December 23, 2013 at 1:14 AM
LIVINGSTON, NJ – The “loom craze” took the U.S. by storm this past summer. By the end of August, children were bringing their looms to the pool, friends’ houses, camp and on vacation.
Parents were making multiple trips to the store for more rubber bands and holders for the bands. By September, many families, like Livingston’s Strulsons and Scherrs, with six children between them, had more bands and bracelets than they knew what to do with. However, unlike most families—they had a "meticulous" 5-year-old boy named Jake, who came up with a one-of-a-kind way to store, transport and showcase his designs—and thus ‘The Original Loom Boom’ was born.
“There were bracelets all over the basement and every new stitch our children learned produced more patterns, more colors and more creations,” said Katy Strulson. “The bracelets were winding up everywhere, from our couch cushions to our dog's mouth. It was a problem that needed solving.”
Strulson continued, “One day, Jake wanted to bring the bracelets he made over to the Scherr’s house to show Jayden and Brody his newest designs. So, he put some on a paper towel holder he found on his dresser and took them with him.”
“We saw what he did and thought it was genius,” said Scherr. “He had the conceptual idea in that he had a problem and found a solution. It was our ‘aha’ moment and we ran with it. I knew that if I saw what we would later call the ‘Loom Boom’ in the store, I would buy it.”
That night, the women did some research and determined that while there were holders for the bands, there were no holders for the bracelets. So, they sat down together and began sketching ideas.
“We wanted the bracelet holders to be kid-friendly, and top and bottom accessible,” said Scherr.
Later, they added compartments in the base to hold bands, c and s clips, as well as charms.
Next, the women went to Home Depot and bought PVC tubes and other items to begin making an initial prototype. They then met with a few prototype makers who were discouraging—with one saying it would cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars to get things going, and another saying there would be many sleepless nights and a lot of work.
“We went from knowing nothing about plastic and production to knowing a lot about both in a very short amount of time,” said Strulson.
Right before Halloween, the women caught a big break. They had a meeting with some executives at Toys 'R' Us who “loved the idea.” And, after finding out that no one else knew about the invention yet, Toys 'R' Us decided to fast track the production of the Loom Boom to get it onto shelves for Christmas. They also asked for an exclusive through Dec. 31.
“We then met with product manufacturer, Enor, in Northvale and in 45 days, the Loom Boom hit the shelves,” said Scherr. “We were very happy that we would be making our products in the United States.”
“When we met with Enor, they said they were working on items for 2015, and here we were asking for our products to be ready in two months,” said Strulson. “It was a great lesson for our children. They saw how hard we were working, asked us how our meetings at Toys 'R' Us were going, helped us pick the tubes shapes, colors and even came to the factory to see how the products were being made. They saw us persevere.”
“I think what they did is great,” said Strulson’s husband, Ari. “It speaks volumes about listening to our kids and watching them play. The Loom Boom gives children the opportunity to display their creations that they are so proud of. I am super proud of Katy and Lauren for following through.”
Katy and Lauren were incredibly excited after seeing each version of the prototype, and told the kids they couldn’t use them or tell anyone about the products.
“Not only were we excited to get the products into the stores, but we couldn’t wait to get the final Loom Booms ourselves,” said Scherr. “We knew the product would not only help others, but that it would also make our lives easier.”
The Loom Boom features bright-colored tubes that can hold up to 40 bracelets. The tube is detachable from the base so ‘loomers’ can transport and share, as well as have easy access to bracelets at the bottom. The base also contains extra storage for loom bands, charms, clips, and other spare parts.
The two entrepreneurs are already thinking about the next generation of the Loom Boom and feel that the ‘loom craze’ is only going to keep evolving with all of the YouTube videos on new stiches, and new and improved final products like purses, people, headbands, charms, key chains, stockings and more.
“It is modern-day knitting,” said Scherr, who often finds herself relaxing, while making her own bracelets, or finishing her children’s after they have gone to bed.
“We even use real crochet hooks when we run out of the ones that come with the sets,” said Strulson.
“I loved the loom from the first time I saw it,” said Emily who is 8. “I am always learning new stiches, and there are always new color bands coming out.”
“My favorite stich is the fishtail,” said Brody, 7, who is very excited about the new polka dot bands.
“I really like to make barefoot sandals,” said Emily.
“I am proud I created the Loom Boom,” said Jake. “It is cool to see it so colorful and my favorite is the blue and green one. My friends think it is cool too.”
“We are very passionate about our product because we are living the ‘loom craze,’” said Strulson.