The gift of calm: cool and stylish sensory products

Sensory Sam

After receiving an autism diagnosis for her son, Allanah Bazzard was disappointed at the lack of sensory products available in New Zealand. She launched Sensory Sam to provide parents with a choice of cool, fun and therapeutic sensory products. 

The passion: What inspired you to set up your business? 

My son! Jonas was diagnosed with autism when he was 5 years old.  

We had challenging toddler years filled with extreme meltdowns. The diagnosis made total sense of all that: they weren’t tantrums, it was sensory overload. When I started to seek out products to aid and calm, they were either unavailable in New Zealand or just plain ugly.  

He’s a cool little guy – I wanted products that reflected this and, let’s face it, that I liked to look at also! So Sensory Sam was born. 

The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?  

We just did the Facebook thing at first, asking friends and family to share. There were a lot of nice comments and some purchases…then pretty much nothing.  

I didn’t want to resort to spamming, so we are slowly making connections and getting inroads.  

It is early days, but we are starting to grow some loyal customers…and they are all so nice.  

We are lucky that there is a lot of aroha (love) in the autism community and everyone wants this business to work, so their kids can have some choices with these products. 

The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?  

Without a doubt getting an interview on Seven Sharp. We really weren’t getting that many people to our little shop, then I did the interview with Jonas.  

The story finished and they cut back to Hillary Barry in the studio, wrapped in our weighted blanket, saying how great it was. Suddenly our shop was inundated and we had to stay up until 2 in the morning from packaging so many orders. That was definitely a business moment I won’t forget. 

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