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A FOOT FULL OF VITAL INFO

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by Hillary Needleman

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As is typical of new parents, city mom Sari Sunshine began worrying about her daughterÕs safety practically before Samantha left the womb. She says, "When I had Samantha, I started thinking, a bit prematurely É she was only eight months É ÔWow. SheÕs eventually going to go to school and what if she gets separated; what if she canÕt locate me?'" Sari remembered her mother fitting her with a safety pin to which her address, phone number, and other important information was attached. But realizing this method is unsafe today, Sari began thinking of alternatives. She concluded that while most of the current methods of keeping track of small children, such as putting a parentÕs business card in the childÕs backpack or writing the information on the inside of the childÕs jacket, are fairly safe, they are also fallible; the information is easily lost or misplaced along with the article. She decided that "the best place for information, where the child would always have it on them, but nobody else other than the child or medical and police personnel can gain access to the information, is on the bottom of their socks." This Safety Socks was born.

Sari is marketing her product primarily for children between the ages of three and six. It is during these years that children, even if their parents have gone over their personal information again and again, are likely to forget it entirely or forget the specifics, she points out. For example, ask a five-year-old where she lives and the response is often general, like "Lexington and 79th Street" or "A few blocks from Central Park". This memory loss is often exacerbated in crisis situations, if the child becomes injured or lost. But Safety Socks are also available in larger sizes for older children where learning disabilities or other issues may impair a childÕs memory or ability to relay information.

Sari had spent 13 years in the apparel industry, and so chose to solely market her product on the Internet. Because each pair of socks is tailor-made to the specifications of the consumer, an actual retail store would only serve as an ordering site - a task much more easily and expediently accomplished via the Internet. Sari spent six months researching everything from Web Design to virtual terminals (needed for on-line credit card payments). At the end of these six months, after also making final decisions about product design (such as using skid-resistant ink) and packaging design, Sari Sunshine was ready to launch her company. While the Web Site went up in July 2000, the shopping cart program, which allows consumers to actually purchase items, was not functional until the beginning of September.

Now, on SariÕs user-friendly, easily navigable site, shoppers can purchase Safety Socks in a variety of colors and styles for both girls (sizes 3-9 1/2) and boys (sizes 5-11). Any information chosen, from address to medical conditions, can be imprinted on one or both socks in a pair. Prices range from $8.25 (for printing on one sock) to $12.50 (for printing different information on each sock in a pair).

Based on the simple, common-sensical nature of Safety Socks, Sari, always open to feedback, has received mostly positive comments. However, a few critics have still warned of the dangers in having any personal information on a child. Sari responds to this in two ways. First, she points to the relative inaccessibility of the information when placed on the bottom of a sock. Second, she says, "If some sick person happens to take my child, I, personally, would rather they have my information and try to contact me and ask for money than have my child freeze up and the person say, ÔWell this kid is no good to me. IÕm just going to get rid of them.'."

One of her long-term goals, planned through a letter-writing campaign, is to educate police and hospitals nationwide about Safety Socks so they know to look for them when children forget or are unable to communicate their personal information.

It was motherhood which propelled SariÕs creativity and drive. Hopefully, as she continues on her journey as mother to Samantha, now two, and stepmother to Jake, 10, and Alex, seven, Sari will continue to be inspired toward great things!

For more information on Safety Socks, visit www.safetysocks.com.


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