Special firm has ties to Barrington, Lake Zurich
Name: Shining Abilities
Phone: 1-(800) 875-6194
Updated: September 10, 2012 12:56PM
Autistic children learn through play and yet Andrea Lemke and her family believed the growing number of diagnosed autistic children in the country are under served by interactive games that spur development.
So Lemke, her brother Dan Schwab, her sister Kristin Blomquist and brother-in-law Per Blomquist decided to start-up a dot.com to help kids with autism and other developmental disorders through play.
Although a year in the works, their website went live in April with educational cards, games and books.
“I saw two needs, first, parents didn’t know what to buy their kids,” Lemke said. “So we offer a free service for them to tell us about their child and we can recommend the product for their child, both from a developmental point of view and a fun point of view.”
The other need, she said, was that too many catalogs and Internet sites were too “compartmentalized,” offering either speech therapy items or sensory items.
“We wanted to create one company that covers all the developmental domains, to save them time and money,” she said. “We want to be a one stop shop.”
Growing up in Barrington and Lake Zurich, the tight-knit family decided draw on Andrea Lemke’s more than 15 years as a developmental consultant for autistic children. She develops the toys and is the liaison with the industry.
Their goal is to start their base with Andrea Lemke’s clients but someday they want to be national.
“We’re open to being in brick and mortar stores but we are limited as to funding,” said Per Blomquist, who said the start-up venture is also family funded. “But our intention is to grow this to a national presence.”
Each member of the family comes with their own talents.
Kristin Blomquist started a dot.com a few years ago, a maternity clothing and jewelry business. It made money but she has since closed it down. Still, with her dot.com experience and her MBA from Loyola University, she’s the chief executive officer.
Dan Schwab has the technical know-how for the shipping and logistics.
Per Blomquist, who works in the insurance industry, oversees publicity and Website operations.
Their stated goal for the Web site is to make it a central shopping site for parents, caregivers or organizations seeking to provide toys for children with autism or developmental disorders.
Their products include “Pretend and Play Doctor,” “Shining Abilities Sensory Bag,” “Shining Abilities Play Bag,” “I See Things At Home Visual Book,” “I See Things That Go Visual Book,” “I See Things At The Grocery Visual Book,” “Breakfast, Lunch And Dinner Foods,” Puzzle Cards and Interactive Books such as “What Color Is It?”
Elyse Hochberg is a fan. Her daughter, Carly, 9, has been seeing Andrea Lemke for years. She says the toys and books are great. The advice, she says, comes with the products.
“Carley wouldn’t be where she is without Andrea,” Hochberg said. “She is fantastic.”