Los Angeles, California-based mompreneur Maya Shalev has always loved problem solving and creating products that accompany each new stage of a baby’s growth and development. Her latest product is Grabease, an ergonomically designed utensil with a choke protection shield, that helps babies learn how to feed themselves.
Shalev’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
I always loved problem solving (possibly due to my previous life as a lawyer and trained mediator) and I loved observing my babies’ development. With each child a new product was born as well, a product I felt was missing in the market and could help babies and parents. I fell in love with the product development world and the entrepreneurial bug and so I founded Elli & Nooli aka Grabease. Since then I have developed, patented and helped other moms develop meaningful products. With the birth of my third child and the patented Grabease line of products I felt the need to combine a social aspect to my works and so I started project Ell i& Nooli which is dedicated to supporting babies in need. Supporting is my passion. Via personal connection, product development and caring for the ones in need in our community.
Grabease utensils are designed to give babies the opportunity to eat independently with a proportional tool for their natural hand grasp and motion with a choke protection shield. Our products are designed with an ergonomic handle – for a more natural hand feeding motion. Choke protection barrier – safe for baby self-feeding to promote confidence during independent eating. They are great utensil starters for children in their baby led weaning stage to toddler eating. They have been highly recommended by occupational therapists for children’s finger strength development. Grabease spoon and fork are boxed in chic packaging complying with all USA regulations – BPA Free, non-toxic plastic, Phthalates free and are made in the USA!
The ergonomic design of the Grabease handle promotes proper and easier hand grasp. The choke protection shield gives parents peace of mind and they feel confident to let their little one explore self feeding without danger and as a consequence they develop their motor skills as well as their independence and confidence. Grabease are highly recommended by occupational therapist and feeding specialists. Babies whom are starting to explore self feeding (as young as 6 month) can start using them.
Success is aiming for something that is important to you and achieving it. It could be overcoming a loss or taking a small idea and turning it into a company with a vision, despite all the challenges. Success is developing the perseverance you need to take you from your goals to actually achievement them.
I love seeing my idea, for a better utensil for babies, being used all over the world. Getting videos from moms and reading about their babies’ success with self feeding excites me each and every time. Being able to incorporate a social concern process in my business from the very beginning is also one of my biggest successes.
I know my strengths and I’m very well aware of my weaknesses. The way I overcame the areas of which I was having difficulties was by asking for help and by hiring qualified people to do what I don’t know how to do best. My father, whom I was very close to, was also part of the business I developed back in 2012. In 2014 he passed away and that was a huge fall back for me. At the time I was pregnant with my 3rd child and I wasn’t able to find the power to keep pushing. I decided to slow down (for the sake of the new life I was forming inside of me and for my sanity) and eventually I discontinued that line of products. With every door that you close a new window can be open and that is what happened when I felt the need for what today is known as Grabease utensils.
My role models are the women around me. Those who are growing while going through the same struggles I go through.