Handsocks Founder Casey Bunn with her family (left to right): Casey Bunn, Charlie Bunn (son), Colin Bunn (husband), and Jillian Bunn (daughter). (Photo by Kristine Pringle photography)
Attempting to fend off the frigid mountain air while on a family ski trip, Casey Bunn covered her 9-month-old daughter's hands with ski socks. Thus the idea of her grant-winning product, Handsocks, was born.
Bunn, of Glen Allen, says the ski socks stayed on her baby's hands all day, unlike mittens, which, as many parents know so well, fall off often and get lost easily.
"When I got back to Richmond, I thought, I’m sure parents everywhere could use this!” says Bunn. She set to work designing Handsocks, which extend up a child's arms and are a soft, fuzzy texture. And "they stay on without Velcro or straps," reads the Handsocks website.
Infants wearing Handsocks. (Photo by Kristine Pringle Photography)
Bunn soon realized Handsocks could be used for more than just warmth. The sturdy, comfortable socks also provide protection against kids scratching themselves.
"Parents of children with eczema started telling me [Handsocks] prevented their little ones from scratching the medicine off their arms and faces," says Bunn.
With the additional medical uses in mind, Bunn applied for the Parentpreneur Grant Program in October, awarded by The First Years, a household-name company that's been making infant and toddler products for more than 60 years. The grant, specifically designed for parents who are also entrepreneurs, was awarded to several recipients including Bunn, who won $7,000.
Soon after, Bunn connected with local medical professionals like Dr. Rebecca Bailey, who practices in Fredericksburg. With Bailey's assistance, Bunn set up a focus group of doctors to explore the usefulness of Handsocks to pediatric patients. The group established that Handsocks could be used in the treatment of hemophiliac children, whose condition makes it very important not to scratch or tear the skin. Other uses, like keeping poison ivy treatments on kids' arms and hands, could also benefit children and their families.
In conjunction with Pediatrics Partners of Virginia CEO Mark M. Deutsch, Bunn says other focus groups for pediatricians and pediatric dermatologists are planned for later this month.
With the grant money, Bunn is developing a targeted mail campaign, which will send information about Handsocks to area pediatricians, dermatologists and hospitals, along with product samples.
Bunn hopes Handsocks will help as many children as possible. "What started as a warmth product has evolved into a medical solution for many kids," she says.