“I also wanted to make the process of hand washing easy and fun for the kids,” Tvelil said.
She wanted a kid-friendly hand towel that would stay on the towel rack – Tottels, towels for tots, was born. Tvelil, 40, and her husband financed the product themselves and in June 2014 announced its release. They currently have a patent pending on the design, which comes in three styles and offers adjustable snap buttons to help ensure that the towel is always within reach to children of any size.
Though Tottels is based in Chicago, it is manufactured in Mumbai, India. Tvelil said the production process was a huge learning curve. “Manufacturing has been costly, especially if you count the bad experience we had working with a manufacturer in China, but all of that was a learning experience,” she said. “The patenting process was another added cost. People do not make these kinds of investments if they don’t believe in their product. We really believe ours will make a difference in peoples’ daily lives.”
She has been getting traction, with sales underway on their tottels.com website, on amazon.com and at a local children’s boutique in Chicago. Tvelil added that at this point, “most of our revenue goes back into the business and marketing.”
She has chosen a great time to enter the market. The children’s clothing industry is expected to hit $173.6 billion by 2017, according to companyandmarkets.com. The report explained that the global market for infant and toddler wear is “a perfect case of a market totally unaffected by new trends in the fashion-oriented adult apparel industry. The segment, unfazed by economic dynamics, is set to rush ahead as the fastest growing market at a healthy CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 4.2 percent through to 2017.” Which means as much as it is successful, it is competitive.
“I do think it is tough to break into this industry. There is a lot of competition and also some great moms with fantastic products,” Tvelil said. “You really have to prove there is the need for your product. With a background in surgical nursing, I am still learning the ropes in business and marketing, which makes it more challenging. So far, people are loving our product as it really is an instant solution to the problem of towels not returning to the towel rod. It also promotes hand washing in our little ones and makes it fun. Knowing all of this keeps me motivated.”
Reviews on the product have been positive. TheGiggleGuide.com, an online destination for information related to today’s children’s marketplace, had this to say about the product, “The Tottels towel has instantly solved the problem of wet towels lying in a bundle on the floor gathering germs and mold. The product promotes good hygiene and responsibility by making it easy to keep the towel attached to the rack and off the floor.”
“We are currently working on more designs. We really value our feedback and have had many requests for kitchen designs and colors and designs that appeal to a wider age range. We plan to exhibit at trade shows this year such as the ABC Kids Expo. We also have plans to increase our marketing and social media presence,” Tvelil added.
For more on Tottels, check out the video below: