If there is one struggle every parent understands, it’s that of trying to get your kid to use the potty. Montclair mom Nina Nsilo-Swai was particularly frustrated. She had tried everything to get her son, who has autism, to use the toilet. But by the age of four, he was still in diapers.
One day, as she was expressing her exasperation to a friend in Sweden, the friend mentioned a product they sold in her country. It was a sticker parents could place in the bottom of the potty and on which a picture would appear when a child did his or her business directly on it. The friend sent some to Nsilo-Swai, and once she began using them, her son was trained in two weeks.
When her second son came along (her boys are now 12 and 8) and his potty training began, she got more stickers from her friend. The boy was trained in a week. And that led Nsilo-Swai to wonder, Why isn’t this miraculous product available in America?
Several years ago, while still living in New York City, Nsilo-Swai enrolled her older son in a school for kids with autism in Verona, and her preschooler at Park Street Academy in Montclair. That gave her nearly a whole day to kill until the family returned to the city. She spent that time thinking up ideas for a new business.
“I have a master’s degree and I had nothing to do. I thought why not start a company?” she said. “I spent hours doing research, trying to figure out what to do. The potty training sticker kept staying with me.”
A year and a half ago, she launched her company, rahababy, and the company’s first product is the pee-kaboo reusable potty training sticker. The stickers are made in the midwest, but Nsilo-Swai is now based full-time in Montclair and her graphic designer, Dana Foti Sharp, whom she met through fellow Montclairion Alma Schneider, is based in Glen Ridge.
The stickers are here, too. Currently you can get them at Hudson St. Organic and at Kidville. Earlier this month, Nsilo-Swai attended the NY NOW retail show (along with fellow Montclair mompreneur Nichole Radzely), where she was able to get in front of many more retailers.
“A lot of people are interested, because potty training is such a universal milestone,” she said. “The sticker works for boys, girls, and kids with special needs.”