Our Story

Founders Lisa and DavidOur decision to create PunkinFutz was extremely personal. When we started PunkinFutz, our daughter, Maddie, was 21 and our son, Buster, was 7 years old.

The day before Maddie’s 2nd birthday, she had her first seizure. It scared me. What I didn’t know at the time was how profoundly my life had just changed. For the next several years, I learned more and more about her, her medical challenges, her developmental differences, her world. I was overwhelmed and frightened. Maddie has a constellation of issues, but no exact diagnosis. She has Ataxia, Crohn’s Disease, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Seizures and Developmental and Learning Differences. For ten years I was a single, working parent with a lot of anxiety.

When I met David, Maddie was nine. Life became much easier with two parents to manage the challenges – doctors’ visits, sick days, emergencies…When Maddie was 13, her brother, Buster, was born. Again, it was not going to be simple. Buster was a micro-preemie, born at 26 weeks. He had heart surgery at 10 days of age. We started the entire process all over again – the fear, the doctors, the unknown.

We learned how little had changed. There was a lot of stress, a lot of guilt, and not much fun. Our decision to start PunkinFutz was made when fitting Buster for orthotics. I could not understand why they had to be so scary and sterile looking. They could have easily been made to look like super hero gear – something every kid would want. When I mentioned this to the orthopedist, he responded, ‘You’re right. Someone should do that.’ And so our journey began.

David and I quickly learned how many things were needed by children like ours – from cool bags for wheel chairs to adaptive rain gear. PunkinFutz is dedicated to designing therapeutic products that should exist, but don’t. Making those products all about choice-making, self-expression and creativity is a fundamental value of our brand. We also insist upon the highest quality materials, that don’t pollute the environment and are safe for workers and consumers alike, because we make products for all our children. Finally, all of our products are made in the United States by adults with disabilities. We are a fully adaptive employer. We understand that all of our children need a promising future – jobs, independence, self-esteem. Providing meaningful employment is central to our mission.

Creating PunkinFutz has changed our lives. It has provided us with a positive way to support this amazing, talented and diverse community. We hope you love our products. Thank you for being part of changing the future for our children and for yours.

Meet the Team

Denise Monktopus Warlyn Shanell Rebekah Robbit Peri DjinnDjinn Lisa Buster David Shenik Zuggey Andrew Crabster Liz

Where did the name PunkinFutz come from?

When I was a child, my dad made up entire imaginary worlds for us full of characters and stories and magic.  It was amazingly fun.  There were invisible creatures that lived on the ceiling and counted peanut butter sandwiches.  There were furry things that would hide in our shoes.  He carried an invisible, traveling flea circus that would perform feats of derring-do.  We watched in awe and clapped.  He built imaginary catapults and waged war when things were quiet or dull, usually during the Sunday sermon.  Using our imaginations, we went anywhere, did anything, believed in everything.  In the summer, he would take us swimming and hiking and camping and canoeing.  After an exhausting, long and dirty day, he would feed us dinner around a campfire and tell us stories– stories that made us giggle and shiver and scream –  in the middle of the woods, in the middle of nowhere.  Then he would give us each magic words to say that would keep us safe in our tents all night.  We fully believed in the power of that magic.  I still have magic words.  My dad called us his PunkinFutz.  It was singular, it was plural.  It meant us Punkins futzing around with our dad.  It was warm and safe and invited magic.

So, PunkinFutz is about imagining, exploring and celebrating the individual magic that children can create and the worlds they will build.  It is about making imagination, self-expression and creativity accessible to all children, mine and yours.