Carissa Tozzi had worked with Gena Mann in the editorial world, but when she was brainstorming for what is now the Wolf+Friends app, she knew Gena was just the person to bring on board. Carissa’s vision was to create a shopping and content destination for inclusive, informative and stylish products for children with special needs. Gena, a former photo editor, was the perfect fit for partnering – not only did she share the enthusiasm for styling, but her son has autism, so she knew first hand how lonely that can be for mothers.
Today the duo’s app is a vital tool – helping moms find a mentor, or become a mentor, connecting both locally and digitally. There is a directory of specialists, whether it’s paediatricians, therapists, psychologists, nutritionalists, camps or schools. And parents can browse content and shop toys and lifestyle items curated with children with special needs in mind, without compromising on style.
When you started out, how convinced were you of the opportunity? Were you afraid?
We initially created this platform for all the moms we knew whose children were experiencing various developmental diagnoses and delays. Motherhood can be isolating, and when you add a special needs child into the mix it becomes even more isolating and overwhelming.
The life-changing challenges of raising a child with special needs often disconnect these moms from friends and family, ‘typical’/mainstream schools, classes, mommy groups, childcare, family activities, hotels, shops and more don’t provide suitable support or options for kids with special needs. Parents require vetted, specialized providers to address the special needs of their children, and special needs children need developmentally appropriate toys, tools, furniture, clothing and more.
We discovered a white space in the market as nobody was addressing these problems in an inspiring way. So we went for it (we were more excited and determined than scared) and decided to design a modern, inspiring, and informative shopping, community and resource app for the moms we know and the 60M+ moms worldwide who are raising children with special needs.