Mothers of Invention- a perspective

by Mary Lenehan | 15 Feb 2023

Product and Book Reviews

Read this post if you’re interested in ...

One of the leading products defining the current Wellness trend in toys

An inspiring story from it’s fabulous founder : ) 

And it’s impact on me as a designer and a mom.


At the bottom is a link to a great interview posted on Valentine's Day with Hugimals World founder Marina Khidekel and Billy Langsworthy of Mojo Nation - laying out the origin story of Hugimals from Marina’s experience and vision. I know the story pretty well, and this is a great iteration of it.


I’m posting my spin up here tho, for what it may be worth to an audience that is as I am - at the deep end of the toy industry pool. 

As a parent of 2 (now grown) kids on the spectrum, I knew from the moment Marina & I were connected that this concept had one of the best “reasons for being” I’d ever seen - and I couldn’t wait to dig in! 


To be honest - this is a concept I would have loved to have invented myself, as I was learning about the therapeutic use of weight years ago when it was first emerging in practical theory and my boys were small.

At that time, gentle pressure methods for calming were only beginning to be commomly understood thanks to the ingenious work of Temple Grandin and were finally starting to grow in acceptance in agricultural and medical realms. 


Back then, (as far as I knew) weighted blankets were not yet available in market other than in hospitals and nursing homes. And the general knowledge around Autism Spectrum Disorders (including Aspergers) while evolving rapidly, was still fairly academic and niche.

As a hopeless polymath with an affinity for developmental psychology and anything to do with supporting my kid’s needs - I kept this information in sight but had little opportunity to access or solve with it as I would have liked.


So in meeting with Marina then, years later - I *saw* the scope of her concept - and was inspired immediately.

In fact, her emotive messaging in our meetings led naturally and directly to the lovely reference point of river stones as an elegant guide for uniting this adorable family of characters with a barely visible but eminently purpose-driven 'reason for being'. #ikigai 


On that note: have you ever looked deeply at those seemingly dull grey rocks? Most kids do. That’s why they can’t resist ‘collecting’ at the beach, pond or park.

No matter where you find them, river rocks carry a surprising array of brilliant colors that harmonize with each other in and around the prominent grays and browns.

They’re ordinary looking from a distance but complex and differentiated up close.

And I found them not just a soothing spa-like reference but a wonderful metaphor for my own kid’s cognitive profiles, Hugimals’ intent and purpose - AND a great style for blending in seamlessly with any environment or decor.


For all these reasons and more - I’ve been beyond pleased to see every step these babies have taken with Marina. 

Not just because I got to help bring them to life - and not just because I’m a parent who struggled along with her kid’s sensory/emotional issues. 


I’m delighted because it was with ALL these things working in concert, that I got the opportunity to put the knowledge I sometimes wished I didn’t have to use by contributing it to the creation of a ‘friend’ (which is what we called all plush in our house) built to assist in the need for self-soothing - while giving a therapeutic hug in return.

I wish I could have given a Hugimal friend to my guys when they were small - but won’t miss the opportunity to send them one now.

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Tait & Lily, Inventors of Betcha Can't!