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The Highway My-Way Story

We are a normal, active family living at the very top of Minnesota, in the wonderful town of Warroad. Our home is rarely quiet or boring. My husband Stephen and I have five children: four boys, Jay, Jonathan, Jonas, and Justus, with our only daughter, Julia, right in the middle. We have been toy connoisseurs since Jay was born, always on the look-out for fun toys that captured his imagination and fostered his creativity. The idea for Highway My-Way was conceived one day while I was watching Jonas build roadways on the floor using masking tape. He had quite an elaborate city going and I thought it would be really fun if children had road patterns printed on some kind of tape or sticky, removable paper. I started doing research and contacting different tape and paper manufacturers and printers. I ended up meeting with representatives from 3M, the makers of Post-it Note pads and they were excited about making Highway My-Way for me. Designs were completed, packaging researched, and things seemed to be moving right along. Then the whole project came to a screeching halt when our daughter was in a bad accident, just one month before our fifth child was born. So the project notebook and all the files ended up in the back of the closet for about seven years. I thought about it occasionally, but with two sons in college, we never had the money to move Highway My-Way from concept to reality.

In October of 2009, I read about a contest here in Northern Minnesota called the IDEA Competition. The contest is a project of Ingenuity Frontier, a collaboration of several partners intent on growing the economy of Northwest Minnesota by supporting entrepreneurs. Our family decided I should resurrect the Highway My-Way idea and enter the contest for a chance to win $10,000 to be used to advance my idea. The contest involved several steps including training workshops, writing a business plan, and making financial projections. I was advanced to the final rounds and prepared a presentation for a panel of judges and investors at the University of Minnesota in Crookston on May 4, 2010. Julia, then 18 (and fully recovered from her accident) helped with the presentation. Later that day, I watched Julia's track meet at the same venue. Julia ended up high jumping at the State Track Meet and I ended up winning the IDEA Competition!

Over the next months we placed our first order for Highway My-Way and hired an artist and a design firm to come up with packaging that would really capture the essence of Highway My-Way. Then the possible packaging designs and product went to focus groups at Golden Valley Academy, Golden Valley, MN and at Southwest Marketing Advisory Center at Southwest State University in Marshall, MN. By January of 2011, final packaging designs and photography were done. The photo on the back of the package features our 7 year-old son, Justus along with our sweet granddaughter, Sadie - three year-old daughter of Jay and his wife Emily. In early February, Highway My-Way was finally available and ready for sale.

The feedback we have received about Highway My-Way has been fantastic. Grandparents, parents, and children all have their own reasons for loving this new product. The convenience and simplicity of this imagination-enhancing toy is really capturing people's attention.