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Sarasota Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009 11 years ago

Mom-preneur creates school organizer

by: Loren Mayo Black Tie Editor

Buki Bala knows from experience that the “dog ate my homework” excuse is real. For that matter, so is “the toddler destroyed my project” and “oops, I forgot that assignment was due today.”

The mother of three was overwhelmed with and outnumbered by the number of things her children brought home in their backpacks. Their schoolwork was piling up on the kitchen counter, covering up the refrigerator door and taking over the dining-room table. Keeping track of baseball, soccer, gymnastics and dance schedules, appointments, snack-day responsibilities and field trips wasn’t working with her current system.

“At one point, you finally say, ‘There’s got to be a better way,’” Bala said. “I searched stores and online, but I couldn’t find the organizer I was looking for. I wanted it to hang because there’s not a lot of desk space — lots of moms have that issue.”

Two years ago, Bala bought the materials she anticipated needing, cut everything up and put it together, thinking that if she needed this product, other mothers might need it, too.

The Homework Caddy is an all-in-one, hanging, homework organizer made with durable polyester material specifically sized to hang behind standard bedroom doors or closets and comes in two color schemes — bright or pastel.

“Once I designed it, I asked other parents I knew if they thought it would be a viable product,” Bala said.
“They told me ‘absolutely.’ My kids love it, and their friends push their parents to buy these because they look cute, plus they give them the responsibility to organize their own work, track their own dates and know exactly where the scissors and ruler are located.”

Bala spent $100 on a yearlong patent, which she received in January 2008, and then sent her drawings and prototype to a manufacturer. Now, she’s got 500 homework caddies sitting in her living room. She’s looking for the right connections, the right store.

“In today’s economy, it forces you to get creative,” Bala said. “Now I’ve got a sign wrap on my car, and women are pulling up next to me, rolling down the window and yelling, ‘I have a Homework Caddy and I love it!’”

Bala is already thinking about office and college caddies. The office caddy would be beige with leather edging, binding and stream-lined.

“I just thought this was a good idea and jumped on it,” Bala sad. “I’ll be 35 this year and felt I hadn’t accomplished anything. The worst thing you can do is not pursue an idea.”

To see a photo and layout of The Homework Caddy, please click on the link below.

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