In the beginning of 2020, Michael Malkin was living his dream—working for Apple. He managed an Apple store in Newport News, VA, and before COVID, the store was wall-to-wall people on the weekends. Great for business, not great for Michael’s social anxiety. He had coping mechanisms, none of which were appropriate when he was on the job. Sometimes he would beat an imaginary bongo drum on a desk. Other times, he would use a fidget spinner. He found a bit of a solution by wrapping a finger in painter’s tape, but it drew curious stares and left his fingers gooey. He needed something that would calm him down when he was stressed, reduce fidgeting, increase focus, and regulate restless energy—and do it all discreetly. His solution was Calm Strips.
What Are Calm Strips?
Calm Strips are 3.2 inches long and 0.8 inch wide strips made from a durable vinyl polymer that can last for four years or more, even with constant use. They are backed with a high-quality adhesive that allows the strips to be removed easily, and without leaving reside, and to be used repeatedly.
The strips come in two textures: Soft Sand, subtle and grainy, perfect for scratching, and River Rocks, smoother and bumpier, that helps in feeling grounded. Both are water resistant and can be cleaned with a damp cloth and any household cleaner.
The designs on the strips are beautifully colored, serene and soothing, and the strips are packaged in little envelopes that contain an inspirational message.
Using the strips is as simple as applying a strip to any smooth, flat surface: phone, computer, notebook, desk, bed frame, etc. The best part is they never stick to skin or paper.
Building the Calm Strips Business
Michael started the business in his home. He and his wife packed orders on their living room sofa. When they needed help, he called on Luce Fuller. Luce, now Director of Public Relations for Calm Strips, worked in the Apple store as an Apple-certified iOS technician. She left to be a stay-at-home mom to her five children and started her own business on Etsy. She agreed to help with Calm Strips three days a week. She became so excited about the product and it’s possibilities that she soon signed on for full-time work.
At one point, Michael and Luce were working in a dentist’s office, having arranged a “packing party” for all family members and friends willing to help. Now they are headquartered in a corner office (with garage) in beautiful downtown Newport News.
Calm Strips Packages
- Package of five strips, identical in design and texture, available in a variety of patterns and colors.
- Variety Package with 10 strips in two different designs and both textures
- Classroom Pack that contains 30 strips: 6 different designs of 5 packs, 3 in Soft Sand and 3 in River Rocks
- School Pack with 120 strips, 24 packs of 5 strips in a variety of designs and both textures in a convenient carrying case
- Custom Calm Strips for schools, businesses, special events, etc. Minimum quantity: 500 strips. Choose from among the many templates available and add your own colors, logo, slogan, event information. They make a memorable business cards or giveaways.
- Carry Tags go wherever you go. Made of 100% aluminum and sized exactly for the strip that can be applied to one side or both sides. The stainless steel split ring with a lobster clip makes it easy to attach to a key ring, zipper or backpack.
The Calm Strips Team Gives Back
They work with and contribute to organizations that support people with various anxiety issues.
- The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRB) works with people who repeatedly touch, rub, scratch, pick at, or dig into their skin, which can result in scarring or disfigurement. Less drastic behaviors include pulling out the hair, chewing the inside of the cheek and nail biting.
- The Anxiety and Depression Association of America is dedicated to increasing awareness and improving the diagnosis, treatment, and cure of anxiety disorders in children and adults.
- The Sparrow Fund provides services for adopted and foster children and their families.
- Camp Encourage provides youth with autism spectrum disorder meaningful experiences and life skills to become confident members of the community.