I am enjoying interviewing professionals and mom bosses about their line of work or their side hustles. Today I am sharing an interview with Duffy of Disguise the Surprise.
Tell us about yourself and your new product Disguise The Surprise.
I am a mom of two boys (12 & 15) and have been wrapping and giving gifts for over 40 years. My mother and I had ideas for products when I was younger, but never really did anything about it. I was very involved in my kids’ school and loved every minute of it, but after many years, I decided it was time to do something for myself and find my purpose again. I sat down and made a list of all my product ideas and decided this was the one to bring to life. Disguise The Surprise was designed to help disguise a gift, or package multiple items to create a super fun personalized gift box! Disguise The Surprise is a set of dividers that you assemble around a gift to get a custom fit, holding it in place. It is reusable, so you can use it over and over. Disguise one gift, or fill the extra sections with additional items…roll up money, candy, slime, gift cards, hair ties…endless ideas! We know that kids like to shake boxes. With that in mind, I designed a riser piece that lifts up a thin item like a video game so it does not move all around (or use a big puffy bow). The set also has buffer pieces to fill any empty space right around the item if needed. This totally helps fool your kids when there is no shaking! All mom’s out there need at least one of these sets in their gift wrapping supply tubs.
What inspired you to launch this product?
Every year at the holidays I would get so frustrated. Kids are smart and are aware of certain items and the shape of the box that they come in. If I were to wrap a new cell phone or say a PS4 game and give it to them in the box that it came in, they would know exactly what it was. Boring! I spent way too much time stuffing tissue paper, taping items down…anything. So I decided to do something to fix this problem. I took a need in the market and created a solution.
What makes it perfect for our current pandemic life?
This has been a hard year for everyone. Kids have had to miss so many things due to Covid. No birthday parties, virtual school for many, missing sports and being around friends. Not as many things to smile about these days. When you add the element of surprise to your gift giving, it elevates it to a whole new level. When kids see a shirt box, they think they are getting clothes and are not too excited. When they open a box and see something way cooler, the excitement on their face is priceless. I think that is what we all need at this moment. All moms love to see their kids happy. Sticking a gift in a gift bag is not only boring and non-creative, but it literally takes a kid maybe 1.5 seconds to take the tissue out and see the gift. That makes for a very fast gift opening time frame. I want Christmas morning to last as long as possible. This way it helps to slow the process down a bit. We moms work so hard and creating a special holiday, so let’s enjoy the process!
How does Disguise The Surprise help reduce the mental load of motherhood?
None of us moms have enough time these days. We are squeezing in way too many things, especially with kids at home right now. I don’t have the time to research how to do something unique, or be creative. I want someone to just show me how to do it and make my life easier. Save me time! That is what this does for one aspect of our lives. Seriously, all you need to do is find a good layout for your gift/s with this set and wham, you create a super fun box that your kids will be so excited about. It also allows you to be very personalized if you want to. Have the main gift and then put their favorite candy, gum, football cards, hair ties, make-up for girls….it shows you took the time to think about them and put their favorites in their box.
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Finally, Disguise The Surprise has launched and open for business!!! It’s been a long journey and in some aspects it is just the beginning. I’m very excited to share with you. ? ? Every year at Christmas I would go to wrap my boys gifts (cell phone, video game) and if I wrapped in the box it came in, they would know what it was purely by the shape of the box. That is not ok with me. I got frustrated and finally designed my own product to help other people with this problem. It saves you time and offers a create solution to assist your wrapping needs. Your kids and loved ones will think you are just the coolest thing! ? ? Our mission is to stop people from just giving a gift, but to make it an EXPERIENCE!!!? ? I would love feedback on the website, both good and bad. Please share to help spread the word. This is a great addition for people to have in their gift wrapping supply closets year round, but especially with the holiday season approaching.? #startup #launching #newbusiness #giftbox #newgiftwrap #innovation #entrepreneur #holidaygiftwrapping #giftideas #wrapacellphone
What are some of your favorite things about running your business?
I love the feeling of accomplishment. Knowing you created something from literally nothing feels good. I enjoy meeting people along the journey. It has allowed me to form relationships with local businesses as well as companies across the country. I can’t wait for the day when I have a team of people to help me expand on the product and grow the business. The site literally just launched the beginning of October, so this journey is only beginning.
What are some challenges you ran into when starting your business?
Lots! Literally everything was new. I knew nothing about manufacturing, web design, plastics….BUT, you have to start somewhere. Just picking up the phone and telling your story and your goals leads to people who want to help or at least guide you in the right direction. One big thing that I learned and am beyond thrilled with the results is on my injection mold. I found a manufacturer for my divider parts here in St. Louis. I am financing everything myself, so I am on a budget. I was told that the only way I could get an injection mold made was to have it done in China. But when the quote came back, it was almost double the cost with the tariffs, etc. I put it on hold and took matters into my own hands. Research who makes molds in the US, talk to about 15-20 of them to see if it can be done domestically. And it can! I found a company in Chicago that made my mold for less than what the overseas would have been and had a much shorter lead time and shipping time. So excited! Now I can say that the whole product is Made In the USA! That was a big challenge. An ongoing challenge is that there are just not enough hours in the day to do everything. I have to tell myself to take it day by day.
Any advice you want to give fellow moms?
I love that I can still be at home for my kids. I knew I wanted to get back into the work world, but I really wanted to stay involved in their school work and day to day life. If you want the same thing, but are not sure how, just start asking around. Focus in on what you would like to do. Research your area to see if there are any mentor programs that could help you on your journey. I will tell you that it feels good when your kids see you working on something and following the journey. I have my kids help me with graphic design, assembly, any way they can. It really makes it fun.
Is Disguise The Surprise only for the holidays?
No! Gift giving happens year round. The set allows you to make a super fun and unique themed box that is perfect for baby showers, graduation, valentine’s day, gender reveals, birthdays, anything you can think of. The personalized boxes that you create will literally make you the best gifter ever! When you add the element of surprise, the reactions are priceless. That is why this exists. My mission is to help other moms create these experiences in their own lives. Everyone wants to bring a smile to someone’s face. Don’t just give a gift. Make it an experience.
If you would like to be interviewed for my side hustle series, please visit here to reach out.