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Key Idea: Import A Good Idea

What does New Zealand have in common with Southern California?  Beaches and fair-skinned children.  The hat that helps kids in one part of the world turns out to help kids everywhere. More...

Key Question:


Make or sell something you personally have a need for.  We have seen this strategy  work for Laurie here at Flap Happy and for many others like the founders of Wahoo's Fish Taco and Jagged Edge Mountain Gear.

Laurie and her husband are both redheads and they live in Southern California.  When they started having babies, they were worried that their little ones would get sunburned at the beach.  On a trip to New Zealand Laurie bought a wonderful hat with a very large brim and when her child was wearing it on the beach in Santa Monia, all of the Moms wanted to know where she found it.  Thus, Flap Happy was born.

Think about it

In your world travels what have you enjoyed that you can't buy in the U.S.?  In travels around the U.S. have you found something you love that you can't buy in your neighborhood?

Clip from: Flap Happy started by manufacturing hats!

Hattie encourages us all,  "Set Profit-Margin Goals."

Santa Monica: In this episode of the television show we take you inside a California business that is making children's hats for Talbots, Nordstrom, Children's Wear Digest and dozens of others. Now they make hundreds of items for retailers (mostly small children's specialty retailers) all around the world.

Laurie Snyder started Flap Happy because she was afraid her very fair-skinned, freckled-faced baby boy would get seriously burned by the California sun. Laurie created a hat by enlarging the brim of a traditional baseball cap and by adding flaps. Other mothers saw the hat and wanted one for their own child.  That was the beginning of this special business.

Meet Laurie Snyder. Meet her Mom, her Dad, her husband, her sister, her "model" child and her other children, too. This is the team that sacrificed to build the business.

Go to all the Key Ideas and video of this episode...

Flap Happy, Inc.

Laurie Snyder, Founder / CEO

2330 Michigan Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Visit our web site:

Office: 310-453-3527

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1987

Import A Good Idea

HATTIE: Hi. I'm Hattie Bryant. This is the place to be if you want to learn more about starting and growing a business.

We'll take you to Santa Monica, California, to the headquarters of Flap Happy. Laurie Snyder started this business so that babies and children could play safely in the sun.

If you've watched SMALL BUSINESS SCHOOL before, you know we are a how-to program: how to start, how to run and how to grow a business.

It's another "find-a-need-and-fill-it" story, and to make it even better research continues to mount in favor of this product. I grew up in Southern California in the '60s, and no one was telling me not to go out in the sun. Today moms are looking for ways to protect their children from ultraviolet rays.

WALLY SNYDER (Laurie's Husband): Do you like the licorice?

Unidentified Boy: Mm-hmm.

HATTIE: When Cody was a baby, his mother, Laurie Snyder, was concerned he would get too much sun. When she couldn't find the perfect hat, she invented one.

LAURIE SNYDER: I couldn't find anything out in the stores that would actually cover him. The hats were little, teeny-weeny brims. And finally came upon a little hat that was from New Zealand that had flaps and had a fairly big brim, but not as big as what I wanted. When I came back home (from New Zealand), all kinds of people were coming up to me and saying, `What a great hat. Where can I get one of those?' So I thought, `Huh, this might be something interesting.'

I started making phone calls to people that I knew who were in a similar type of business and started asking questions. I wasn't afraid to ask questions. And I also went downtown where I knew sewing went on. I walked into a sewing shop and said, `I have this hat. Can you make it?' And they said, `Well, where's your pattern and who's going to cut it?'

So then I knew I had to call people. I had to find a pattern maker. So, I went to the pattern maker and showed her what I wanted, but then we had to go through fittings -- all this stuff I had no idea about; but by asking the questions, I slowly learned.

And being naive and not knowing got me pretty far. I never pretended I knew what I was talking about, so people gave me a lot of information. I looked up in little parent magazines here in LA other people who seemed to have their own business and called them and said, you know, `I see you have a sewing product. How do I find a sewer? How do I get this done? Where do I buy the fabric?' And people were so helpful. And networking, just finding people in that industry.

HATTIE: All right. So you picked up the phone and called to get the suppliers or the sewing and the...

LAURIE: ... leads to these people. So I called one, and then that person didn't know, but they'd turn me on to somebody else. Within six to eight weeks we actually had a real cut. We had, you know, 50 dozen pieces.

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