We never know what the ripples of loss will produce in our lives, but it was two consecutive and significant losses in Lisa Kamer’s life that eventually led her down the path of entrepreneurship. In the wake of the deaths of two beloved dogs, Lisa adopted Leo, a feisty Corgi who gave her- and his toys- a run for their money. From toys that he chewed through to those that simply couldn’t hold his attention, nothing on the market was meeting Leo’s needs. One day on a whim, Lisa took some old rags that were lying around, twisted them into a simple braid, and watched Leo go crazy for his new toy. In that moment, Lisa, who had also recently endured the abrupt ending of a 20+ year executive-level career, decided that she would begin mass producing her braided dog toys and see where this new venture might lead her.
Lisa realized right away that creating her braided toys had therapeutic value, and when neighborhood children joined her one summer afternoon in her project, Lisa began to conceive of a unique idea for bringing her product to market. One child in particular, who was partially blind and yet able to participate fully and joyfully in creating the toys, sparked the inspiration for Lisa to approach the nearby Perkins School for the Blind with a proposal. Since forging that initial partnership with the Perkins School, schools throughout the country have been purchasing Knots of Fun dog toy kits and using the products their students proudly create to sell at fundraising events. The success of these events has prompted more and more schools and organizations to get involved. Publicity from her partnership with the Perkins School quickly led to an inquiry from a nearby pet store interested in selling the toys. This became the catalyst for the expansion of Knots of Fun into the retail sector, where business has flourished ever since.
Lisa’s unwavering dedication to producing quality toys included a commitment to sourcing all of her materials and labor domestically. What Lisa wasn’t aware of at the start was the ability she would have in her Massachusetts location to produce a hyper-local product, where every material- down to the tag- is made in state. Lisa is proud to work exclusively with a nearby 3rd generation mill that has specialized in braiding since the 1930s. Knots of Fun toys are constructed from the highest quality American-made fabric, and are colorful, durable and machine washable. The toys can be used for water play (they float!) and can also be frozen and used as a teething toy for puppies. When asked what her dream for Knots of Fun is, Lisa speaks excitedly of wanting her products to be the equivalent of “the silly putty of dog toys”- something classic and versatile that never goes out of style. At the end of the day, Lisa’s greatest hope is that her toys will foster strong relationships between pet owners and their dogs. Her simple admonition for those who purchase Knots of Fun toys? “Play with your dog. If they know the toy means they’ll get your time and attention, it will fast become their favorite toy.”
For more information about the fundraising side of Lisa’s business, or to bring Knots of Fun kits to your child’s school, click here to visit her Happy Hands, Happy Dogs website.