Topekan’s ‘stress relief dough’ selling by the thousands online
Topeka (ap) — Jennifer Malcolm’s popular Etsy business evolved out of her desire to break a bad habit, and because of a back injury.
A couple of years ago, she was down with an injured back and bored. Looking for things to do, she delved into her early education background to make some dough — think of it as Play-Doh for adults — because she was biting her fingernails. Anxiety has always been a challenge for her, she said.
“I would find that when I had the dough, I wouldn’t mess with my fingernails as much,” Malcolm said.
She played with a dough recipe over a five- to six-month time period, adapting and tweaking it. When her husband took what she was calling stress relief dough to work, people started asking about it.
“I experimented a lot with the recipe for four or five months before I got something that was what I felt (was) really perfect,” she said. “It’s a nice, squishy dough. This feels really good in your hands.”
The dough is softer and more pliable than Play-Doh, Malcolm told the Topeka Capital-Journal.
“You can look through the (Etsy) feedback,” she said. “People really do find it very relaxing. You can pull it out for just a few minutes, release a little bit of energy and then move on. A little like a stress ball, a little more fun.”
She opened an Etsy store, DoughForIt, online in October 2016 but really began selling and working on the business in earnest in January the next year.
The sales just kept growing, Malcolm said.
“It’s far exceeded my expectations,” she said.
The business has developed, and she has added new scents, colors and the ability to stamp different words or even company logos into the dough.
“One of the things I learned many years ago was about using essential oils,” Malcolm said, adding that those scents can be helpful for anxiety, too.
As a lover of positive thinking, as evidenced by her business name, Malcolm said she likes stamping words on the dough.
“That motivational piece was from the very beginning what I wanted,” she said. “I wanted affirmations, I wanted motivations. Things to remind you to stop and relax and pause. It’s really fun.”
Malcolm will customize the words, a process that is easy because everything is handmade in small batches.
But the business most recently has been growing by adding corporate customers. In fact, she and her husband, Jim Malcolm, worked nonstop to get out an order for 6,000 tins of dough for a business customer, a national Christian-based subscription gift box.
“I can use their logos. They can use it for promotional materials,” she said. “Luckily, my husband is free labor. He definitely is a big help for big orders.”
Last year, she was busy with Christmas orders around Black Friday, but the busy time period started this year in October. She is so busy with Etsy orders that she can’t even consider selling her products in local stores. Like many small businesses, she sits on the cusp of needing to hire help but not being quite ready financially to hire.
DoughForIt can be found on Etsy.com or on Malcolm’s website at doughforit.shop.