Today we’d like to introduce you to LaToya Allison.
Hi LaToya, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I have always loved traveling and after becoming a mom, I planned on raising my family with experiences across the world. Of course, there’s the dream of prancing across the globe with children carefree and easy; then there’s the reality. And it’s difficult! I found myself creating bags of entertainment for my daughter and the other children in our group. I didn’t know it then, but it was the start of ternPaks. Parents on many flights and train rides approached me and asked where I got the different items I put in the backpacks. Structure really does offset the chaos of the early mornings, the long car rides, the ‘are we there yet’ questions. I even started packing extra to share. I figured that my desire to have as much screen-free time for my child while traveling was not unique. I started making the plan to design and secure manufacturing and was soon joined in the ternPaks venture with my good friend, Mariana. We started the company then the pandemic hit. What seemed liked bad luck turned into a perfect opportunity to send and test products across the country to friends and family.
I was born in Guyana, moved to New York in high school and lived in NYC from my first day of college at NYU to six months after my daughter was born. I then moved to Kansas for two years before settling in Austin. Needless to say, I had a great sample of people to send products to. We officially launched in April and secured our first partnership with Maisonette.com, the premier luxury children’s boutique in the world. It felt like a great start! We are now working on adding more options to our line and hope to reach as many families as possible.
My mission is design and produce innovative, high-quality products for 5-10 years old during car, train, or airplane rides. I want families to use our items to disconnect from their electronic devices and reconnect with each other.
Representation is important to me, so as part of the collection, I wrote a story featuring three kids of color on an amazing adventure through Egypt. Not only does it come with an accompanying journal that allows kids to reflect on the trip they are on and why it’s important to be thankful, parents also get a nighttime story they can read and an opportunity to reflect together!
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The struggles have really been growing pains: learning through the mistakes and finding out that there are no shortcuts, especially with shipping! My business partner is a former scientist and I left a career in higher education before being stay at home moms. So we went from that to learning global shipping routes, coordinating transatlantic manufacturing options, working on customs declarations, and pitching to retailers and buyers to carry our products. The upside is learning through the mistakes and getting more adept at spotting the gaps and adapting through each lesson.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
We want to bring joy to the actual journey, encourage families to inspire and wander through travel, and to disconnect to reconnect with each other. We offer thoughtful, pared-down products that excite and entertain your kids during car, train or airplane rides. We have prepped backpacks for short and long trips and have tested dozens of products to select our top picks for your kids. We want kids to be inspired by, and to inspire others through their travel experiences – before, during, and after their adventures.
We think about how every product excites a child’s imagination and encourages them to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Our tagline, Inspire & Wander emphasizes everything we wish to accomplish with this project. These innovative products are aimed at children aged 5 to 10 years old during car, train or airplane rides. Their signature product – the complete ternPaks – are backpacks ready for short and long trips. Magnetic pads and cubes for STEM play, art and doodling materials, reusable dry erase mazes, and a journey journal that includes a bedtime story and space for kids to reflect on their own experiences, all available for individual purchase.
Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
In the beginning, I felt awkward reaching out to my network of friends and associates to ask for help in each of the areas of starting a business: marketing, product research and development, website building, SEO, etc. I learned to be proactive in asking for clarification and asking deeper questions: going beyond the surface in whatever it is I needed. I find that people respect your effort in learning more about whatever it is you need from them. It shows grit, and they are more inclined to help.
- Original curated ternPaks – $165
- Inca trail add-on – $40
- Road to hana add-on – $50
- Watercolor gel crayons – $10
- Magnetic cubes – $20
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.ternpaks.com
- Instagram: @ternpaks
- Facebook: facebook.com/ternpaks