Children tend to have an unbiased and optimistic outlook on the world, and Ahwatukee Foothills resident Larissa Rzemienski has channeled her own daughter’s creative energy to launch an online business.

Alyssa Says sells squishy pencil topper toys and Japanese erasers, and Rzemienski’s daughter, Alyssa, helps her mother choose merchandise that will be a hit with youngsters.

“It helps to have Alyssa around because she is in fourth grade and she can give me a good sense of what will be popular,” Rzemienski said.

The small, rubber squishy animals come in numerous varieties, and children carry them to class and recess in pencil boxes.

“They love the rare and the glow-in-the-dark squishies,” Rzemienski said. “Kids will bring them on the playground and do little skits or show off the squishies they have to each other.”

Rzemienski launched the Alyssa Says Web site when she was searching for Christmas gifts for her daughter last year. She knew squishies were affordable and that her daughter loved them. The idea for the business naturally followed.

“Luckily, the overhead isn’t too high, and honestly it is very popular because the items are so cheap that parents can buy them,” she said. “I’ve seen kids get more excited about squishies than Nintendo.”

With the help of her daughter, Rzemienski searches the Internet and buys the squishies and Japanese erasers at wholesale prices.

“It’s funny because after initially researching squishies I found that most of them are designed in north Scottsdale and then produced in China,” Rzemienski said.

The Alyssa Says Web site also offers interactive games and contests for children. Children can log on to view squishy animal videos or enter squishy photo contests.

Despite starting her business in an economic downturn, Rzemienski has found that she already has a large client base.

“Business has been busy so far, and I just try to keep an eye out for what is trendy and popular,” she said. “Alyssa’s friends and teachers get excited about the squishies, and her friends are always filling out the contact forms on the Web site.”

To view Rzemienski’s current selection of squishies and Japanese erasers, visit www.alyssasays.com

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