PunkinFutz: Designed to Empower

by Helena Industries

  • Posted on November 3, 2016

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In the spring of 2016 we received a phone call from a woman named Lisa Radcliffe. Lisa lives in Brooklyn, New York, which is over 2,500 miles from Helena. Lisa is the founder of a new company, PunkinFutz, and she was seeking a partner to help her produce her company’s products.

The company creates products for children of all abilities and needs, making the everyday more personal, purposeful, and colorful for kids and their parents.

As a parent of a college student with a disability who would need a supportive work environment, Lisa wanted the products to be made in adaptive and integrated work environment. She wanted,
“PunkinFutz to be part of the solution for all our children’s futures.” punkinpie

We answered the call, and a partnership was born. Our Benchmark Manufacturing team spent countless hours on the phone with Lisa and her designer, Kenna, designing, modifying, and finalizing their first accessory product, the PunkinPie.

Serendipitously, Kenna, now a NYC resident, was born and raised right here in Helena and is a proud Capital High School graduate.

The PunkinPie is a small triangle shaped, colorful, and functional bag designed to be placed on the spokes of a wheelchair, so children can easily access their belongings whether medication, a cellphone, or a snack. The products are fun, and importantly, they solve a problem.

They help children in wheelchairs increase their independence.

PunkinFutz embraces concepts of universal design, which means while the PunkinPies are ideal for wheelchairs; they can also be used and enjoyed by all children on bikes, scooters, strollers, and more.

PunkinFutz officially launched their company in September 2016 at the Abilities Expo in Boston, and soon after launched their E-Commerce site.

This public-private partnership has been monumental for Helena Industries.

jj-1For decades, our Benchmark team has sewn and constructed backpacks for the United States Forest Service’s wild land firefighters. It’s been a rewarding long-term project, and the team continues to produce hundreds of bags annually. The partnership with PunkinFutz has allowed for additional innovation. Team members have been involved with the process from the start to finish, working together to try new things, advising the company, and taking pride in the finished product.

Members of the Benchmark team know that people with disabilities will be using and enjoying the product.

Knowing this has been both invigorating and empowering.

Beyond providing meaningful work for members of our team, we know this opportunity will open doors of opportunity to work with other companies that are committed to making products that increase the quality of life for people with disabilities in our community, across the country and around the world.

We recognize the importance of diversifying our revenue streams by working with companies like PunkinFutz. More importantly, because of this work, we’re able to meet our commitment.

We’re committed to providing opportunities that provide people with meaningful employment today and skills that prepare people for employment in the community and in industry’s of the future.

According to PunkinFutz,

At every point we have tried to stay true to our mission: producing beautiful products for our children today, while contributing to a better tomorrow. We source ethically produced and responsible raw materials. We seek out integrated, adaptive, and supportive production facilities. And we intend to build a sustainable model that can produce quality goods at reasonable prices in a priceless way.

Although we are just one piece of the pie (pun intended) for the company, we take pride in our work and know PunkinFutz considers us to be part of their family, too.

We look forward to continuing our work with PunkinFutz! We encourage you to learn about their remarkably fun and useful merchandise this holiday season to find a great gift for someone in your life!



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Helena Industries