When the Kokomo Tribune last spoke to Kathy Tragesser in 2017, she had recently been approved to sell her I Care Stickpins on Walmart’s online store.
Now, she primarily sells the pins via Facebook and at two local flower shops, White Lilies N Paradise and Flowers by Ivan & Rick. She’ll be presenting the stickpins on Fox 59’s Indy Now on Monday.
Tragesser will appear on the show for a four-minute time slot sometime between 10-11 a.m.
“I’m normally a shy person,” Tragesser said. “For me to be able to go on camera … and not really have too much shyness about it, it tells you how passionate I am about this.”
Tragesser explained she came across the opportunity after reaching out to the show’s hosts. One of the hosts wrote back, inviting her to display her product on the show.
With a few days left to prepare, Tragesser said she’s been practicing her pitch. On Easter, she’ll present the pitch to family members, who she said wouldn’t have a problem giving constructive criticism.
The business owner explained she first came up with the idea for the stickpins in 1998. She had heard the majority of homeless people were Vietnam veterans and prayed for a way to help homeless veterans.
A few nights later, she dreamed of a stickpin. The dream wouldn’t leave her mind, and the ideas kept coming to her.
Tragesser decided she would make pins that would represent various causes, starting with veterans. She would also donate a portion of each sale to an organization that helps the cause represented on the pin.
She’s up to 69 causes now, including natural disasters, depression, cancer, animal care and world peace.
Usually, $1 from each $10 pin goes to a local organization, such as the Howard County Vietnam Veterans Association, The Gilead House or the Kokomo Humane Society. When the pins sell somewhere other than Kokomo, Tragesser added, she tries to donate the money to an organization in the town it sold in.
She’s also been able to sell the pins at fundraising events, donating half of her proceeds to the event instead of the usual 10%.
Other than her personal drive to see the business do well, Tragesser attributed a portion of her success to the help of the Hoosier Heartland Indiana Small Business Development Center. The development center, Tragesser explained, helped her develop two business plans, find an Indianapolis-based manufacturer and connect with local institutions like Indiana University Kokomo.
“Every time I’ve needed anything, they’ve been there for me,” Tragesser said.
She added that she hopes her product helps spread positivity.
“I think right now, more than any time, we need positive,” Tragesser said. “There’s so much negativity right now.”
For more information, visit facebook.com/iCareStickpins.