Texas mom builds sensory play kits in kitchen after daughter’s diagnosis, sees 330% growth: ‘Sky is the limit’

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A Houston, Texas, mom of four has successfully developed a sensory play empire in only six years, after hunting for toys to help soothe her daughter’s speech disorder and anxiety.

Julie Friedman, 34, launched Young Wild & Friedman accidentally, she said, after brainstorming ways to engage her daughter in play.

When Friedman’s daughter Evie was 2, Friedman noticed Evie was not conversational or able to form words.

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As a young mom at the time, Friedman did not know what to expect, so she admitted Evie (who is now 10) into speech therapy.

Young Wild and Friedman promo shoot

Julie Friedman has built a sensory play empire without any prior business experience called Young Wild & Friedman. (Young Wild & Friedman / Fox News)

“She [the speech therapist] told me I really want you to start incorporating sensory play into her daily routine,” Friedman shared of Evie, who in 2016 was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech – a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult for a child to speak, according to Apraxia kids – a program of The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association.

Apraxia kids says improving sensory processing may help improve praxis (or critical thinking).

“[It can] also bring about language development and produces a lot of opportunities for kids to use different words and social interactions,” Friedman told Fox News Digital.

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Friedman did not know what “sensory play” was or what that looked like at the time.

Young Wild and Friedman original promo shoot

Friedman started her small business in her 1,900 square-foot home before relocating to over three warehouses. (Young Wild & Friedman / Fox News)

“Sensory play [back in 2015] was not a trending word. It was totally under the radar,” Friedman noted.

Friedman describes sensory play as “any type of play for a child that involves multiple of their senses.”

“It helps with cognitive development. It’s proven to create brain connections that can help kids complete more complex learning tasks…It poses a lot of opportunities for kids to use different words and social interactions. It just has so many incredible benefits for kids of all ages.”

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Friedman found Play-Doh to be the popular choice of sensory play, but she wasn’t a fan of the product’s scent, she said.

Young Wild and Friedman promo shoot

Young Wild & Friedman became an official LLC business in 2018. (Young Wild & Friedman / Fox News)

She decided to start making her own modeling clay at home using ingredients she found online before ultimately creating a recipe with essential oils to make it smell attractive.

Friedman started giving Evie the homemade clay, but it did not hold her daughter’s attention as well as she had hoped. Friedman then decided to add a twist.

“I put it all together in a box themed for a baking kit…and I added cupcake liners and cookie cutters and candles and all sorts of stuff for her to decorate,” Friedman recalled.

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“And she [Evie] was obsessed with it.”

Young Wild and Friedman warehouse

Young Wild & Friedman is run out of a 20,000 square-foot warehouse in Houston, Texas. (Young Wild & Friedman / Fox News)

After starting on Snapchat, Friedman began highlighting her invention to a social media account in hopes to share her concept with parents who needed sensory play ideas.

She started to make more and more kits for Evie, until her friends started reaching out asking if she could make kits for their kids, too.

Friedman saw her following was growing, so she launched a sale of 60 “Under the Sea” sensory kits — all 60 kits sold in 30 minutes, she stated.

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After that launch, Friedman saw she was pulling in 1,000 new followers per day, so she launched another 100 kits — all 100 kits sold in just one minute.

Young Wild and Friedman sale

Friedman’s first launch consisted of 60 kits selling out in 30 minutes. Her next launch consisted of 100 kits selling in one minute. (Young Wild & Friedman / Fox News)

“For the next six months I did launches like that every other week, and I was selling up to like 300 at a time in one minutes,” Friedman said.

“I was losing my mind. This just blew up in front of my eyes in a matter of weeks and it was extremely exciting and overwhelming,” she added.

At the time, Friedman had a costumer who knew the Kardashians and ordered sensory kits for Kim Kardashian’s children, North and Saint West. Kim Kardashian then posted about Freidman’s kits on her Instagram page, according to Friedman.

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In 2018, Freidman’s cousin helped build a website and that year she ultimated filed the Young Wild & Friedman as an LLC.

North West sensory kit

Friedman built kits for Kim Kardashian’s two children, North and Saint West. (Young Wild & Friedman / Fox News)

“From 2018-2020, we had 330% growth in my business. We are still growing at 40% year after year,” she commented.

Friedman said she’s amazed to think how far her business has come and how her personal journey as a parent played a tremendous part.

“It’s been really sweet to see the thing I thought was going to be the hardest obstacle in my life turn into one of the coolest, sweetest blessings ever,” Friedman shared.

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“I do find so much joy in this business and I never would have had it if it weren’t for her [my daughter] and what we had to overcome with her.”

Young Wild and Friedman kitchen mixer

As the orders started increasing, Friedman started making her sensory kits in a 40-quart mixer. (Young Wild & Friedman / Fox News)

As her business took off, Friedman graduated to a large, 40-quart mixer to use for clay-making. The device stands in the middle of her own kitchen. 

She had assembly lines going throughout her house to help organize her different orders and supplies, she said.

After going through a rental house, and three other warehouses in the span of 27 months, Friedman moved her business into a 20,000 square-foot warehouse and now, she is looking to double her space once again.

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Freidman said she sells on average 25,000-30,000 kits a month including subscriptions, with most purchases reaching the east and west coasts.

Young Wild and Friedman promo shoot

Friedman started her company in hopes of finding a sensory play kit for her daughter, she has now created kits for her daughter and hundreds of thousands of other kids. (Young Wild & Friedman / Fox News)

Friedman is the creative mind behind the different theme Young Wild & Friedman builds. 

“I’m a very creative person…I feel like I’m a total kid at heart. I am still such a child, so I think it’s kind of easy for my brain to go there.”

While modeling clay is the main product, Young Wild & Friedman also offers sensory bins and kits featuring various curriculums.

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Julie Friedman and family

“Knowing that I could make something that could help Evie…has been a really cool thing to get to do as a mom,” Friedman told Fox News Digital. (Young Wild & Friedman / Fox News)

She says her main demographic is ages 3 to 7, but slime has become popular with those from 8 to 12.

After looking at the market and trends, Young Wild & Friedman started testing slime so that her “customer doesn’t phase out.”

There are under 40 people on her team with nearly 95% of the staff being women. 

Young Wild and Friedman split

The female founded business consists of under 40 people on staff, 95% being women. (Young Wild & Friedman / Fox News)

If Friedman could go back and tell herself anything, she would say, “The sky is the limit. Believe in yourself.”

“As a mom you will do anything for your child and if it’s not out there, you’re going to make it,” Friedman added.

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