Diving Deeper into Easy Daysies: an interview with Elaine Tan Comeau
Elaine Tan Comeau will be the feature speaker at the upcoming June 13th Woman of Insight Dinner at the Best Western Plus Chateau Granville in Vancouver, BC.
What made you decide to start Easy Daysies Ltd?
The goal and purpose of Easy Daysies is to make and provide products that help children and families have easier days, that is how it got its name, Easy Daysies! As a school teacher, I created visual schedules out of parent requests when they asked me to make something for them to use at home that would help their child get out the door faster in the morning. I had made visual routines to help not only my class feel safe and be at ease in event transitions, but I knew that it was a vital tool in helping my students with learning challenges and special needs. I had first made the visual routines out of laminated paper and velcro or magnets glued to the back. I had so many families request these visual routines over my years of teaching that this was the only way I could make them and give them away for free.
After making the visual schedules for parent demand for so many years, I decided that there must be a market here for such a product. I Google searched and discovered that there was no other daily visual routine out there that was a product. I talked to my husband and decided that I would make this into a product. I did extra tutoring and made crafts to sell and saved up the first $1400 I knew it would cost to make my first batch of product. I launched my first product 2 days after our third child was born. The product sold out in one month and I had funds to make the next batch. Soon, word of mouth and the blessed internet shared the positive effects of Easy Daysies, and social media and print media found out about Easy Daysies too, making Easy Daysies now readily available in locations across North America.
When you started your business, what is the one thing you now know that you wish you’d known then?
One thing I wish I knew back when I started is the importance of seeking and hiring professionals to do the jobs they do best rather than me trying to do it all. Instead of spreading myself so thinly and doing all the jobs poorly, I could have hired people who are experts at what they do so that I could focus on what I am good at for the business.
How has failure made a positive difference in your business (or life)?
To some, failure can mean a dead end, but to me failure is a stepping stone. Failure means that I have gone outside my “safe zone” to grow my business. I must learn from that failure and make it into a stepping stone to move to higher and brighter stages in my business. Anything you can learn from is a gift.
What would you say is your greatest achievement to date?
My children always get excited when they see Easy Daysies products in stores across North America, but I would have to say what makes my heart full are the e-mails that I receive from families that write to share with me how Easy Daysies has affected their lives. My heart is overwhelmed reading the message from a mom with three children under seven who all have autism, who shares her appreciation that because of Easy Daysies she no longer has to talk talk talk all day long anymore since her children can now see what is happening next. My heart is full when a foster mom writes to share that once there was so much anxiety in her home but because of Easy Daysies, her foster children feel safe and calm just because they can see and predict their day. Or the mom writing to share that her non-verbal, highly autistic daughter uses Easy Daysies as her words, and that Easy Daysies has improved the quality of life for her daughter. My heart is humbled and overwhelmed. Over the years many families have also shared that they use Easy Daysies not just for their children, but for adults with brain injury and memory loss due to early Alzhiemer’s or Dementia. I am honoured to share that we will be launching a product for adults with early memory loss called “My Day” coming out this June!
Where did you go for advice on how to grow your business?
To anyone I was brave enough to ask. I was not good at asking for help because I did not want to bother anyone. I am still working on this one!
What was the wisest business advice anyone ever gave you?
One piece of advice that I cling to, now having gone through my own experiences and I can verify its validity, is from Jim Treliving. He says, when it comes to business, go with your gut. Trust your gut feeling on whether you should do business with someone or not. I have learned that your heart is not meant to make business decisions, but your gut will instinctively tell you whether you should stay or get out.
How do you manage raising children and running a business successfully?
To me, balancing is about the choices we make, and the choices we make stem from our priorities. My children and my family are my priorities and I am aware that I could have grown my business much faster if I did not make my schedule based on being present for my children. Success, to me, is measured by my children’s happiness. As difficult as it has been, if I can choose between attending a business meeting or attending my child’s school concert, I would have to choose my child’s concert. Being a former school teacher, I know that for a child, the most important thing to them in a concert is not performing, but rather, being able to find the face of a mom or dad so that they can wave to them. That is worth more than any memory of mommy missing the concert so she could meet with a national retailer.
What book(s) are you currently reading? What do you love about them?
Purple Cow by Seth Godin, How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell, and Thea Stilton and the Journey to Atlantis (reading with my 8-year-old).
Who do you follow faithfully on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? Why?
On Instagram (because it is quick), I follow some of my favourite people who inspire me (like Arlene Dickinson, Brianna Wettlaufer, and Jody Vance) and some of my retailers, to show support and love!
What’s your favorite business quote?
I have three!
“Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.”
“It is not about ideas, it is about making ideas happen.”
“We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.”
Elaine Tan Comeau is the Founder and CEO of Easy Daysies, a magnetic scheduling system that helps children learn good habits, routines, responsibility, and self-discipline. She has been named Canadian Mompreneur of the Year (2014) and received the Chamber of Commerce Award for Excellence in Business. Elaine is passionate about supporting women in business, and puts this passion into action through speaking engagements, podcasts and writing.
Join us June 13th at the Woman of Insight Dinner at the Best Western Plus Chateau Granville and hear more from Elaine!