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Happy Dough Lucky - A Success Story

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Whole Foods Market loves Happy Dough Lucky and so does Parkway. 
We’ve had the opportunity to work alongside Heidi Drake, creator and owner of Happy Dough Lucky, as her vision grew from a concept to a Whole Foods Market stock item. Today, she shares her business journey with us and tells us how she managed to grow her idea into a successful business - flexible enough to allow her to stay at home with her children. A dream that she shares with many women out there today.

Happy Dough Lucky evolved out of a problem that Heidi first identified when her children started attending birthday party after birthday party.      “They would go to a birthday party and come home with a lot of “junk”, says Heidi for lack of a better word.  She continues, “These items would often break and clutter the house and were gifts they rarely played with…. It became very frustrating after a while.”  At the same time, when Heidi’s kids had their own birthday parties they would end up with too many presents that took up too much space in her small Arlington, Virginia home.

“I’ve always wanted to start my own 'creative' business.  I also wanted to be able to have a business that was flexible and allowed me to be at home with my children”.

/ Heidi Drake, Mom of three and Owner of Happy Dough Lucky

Heidi started brainstorming. With a background in teaching, and experience working with kids, she knew what captivated younger children’s attention –namely, creativity.  What if I could create a useful product that provides better quality gifts for children and at the same time promotes creativity?  It all started running through Heidi’s head: Gifts that were expendable (biodegradable) and did not take up a lot of space?  

These questions grew into a vision, and soon became her mission. Knowing she would need some help, Heidi solicited her mom and one of her very creative friends to join her venture. At first they had several product ideas but somehow “play dough” stuck!  So why Play Dough? “Well, take a look at every preschool classroom across America. Play Dough is one of the most popular learning tools used. It promotes open-ended play, fine motor development, creativity, and sensory exploration!  And let’s face it – most children just love to play with it! We of course put our own slant on Play Dough by adding themed toys to the jars.  For example “Dino Dough” included miniature dinosaurs.  Space dough included spaceships – you get the idea!  Kids love this novel concept!  They love hiding the toys in the dough or creating imaginary scenes around the toys.”

Soon after, Heidi’s friend went off and started her own venture, but Heidi went on to build Happy Dough Lucky into a small business.          “I got a lucky break when I got an interview with a Whole Foods Market buyer.  They immediately took to the product and I started to pilot Happy Dough Lucky in one store, then three, and now all 46 stores in the Mid-Atlantic Region”.

Why Parkway?

The right packaging has always been one of my greatest challenges. I had first started out using plastic deli containers but they were too flimsy and would often break.  Another problem was that no one was willing to sell to me unless I was going to order massive amounts of containers at a price I could not afford, especially just starting out.  I discovered Parkway just by chance on a web search and was so excited to find that I could order smaller quantities, a variety of sizes, and that it was easy to navigate their website and contact them for customer service.  I was even more impressed when I received my first shipment – the jars were so sturdy, easily reusable/recyclable.                                                     I cannot not tell you how many compliments I gotten on how great these jars are – I recently had someone from Australia asking me how she could get these jars…”

Heidi’s Tips: How to make it in the Arts & Crafts Industry

“Half the battle is just taking that initial risk and putting your ideas out there.  You don’t know until you try and you just have to do it or else it will never happen.  I kind of compare it to having my first child. There are so many joys and thrills but at the same time it can be scary and there are so many things you just don’t know.  You have to learn as you go along

I often take 2 steps forward and one step back.  What I find amazing is how much stronger I’ve become and how much I have learned since I started Happy Dough Lucky.  The same is true with my journey as a mother.” 

Pitfalls to Avoid when Launching a Product

We all know that it can be quite stressful to launch a new product. You have to be all prepared; have all your material and all your numbers ready for Launch. We know that many of you might be in the same position Heidi once was in, so we asked her to share her input on the topic…

1.  Make sure to price your product correctly Take into account all expenses it takes to make your product and anticipate future expenses as you begin to expand your business. 

2.  As you grow you really need to become more streamlined.  At first I provided too many different product styles which meant spending my money on more inventory and labor.  I also offered too many custom designs which took up a lot of my time.  Less is truly more.

3.  Don’t waste your money or time on fancy stuff that isn’t user-friendly – like a beautiful website that you don’t know how to update.  When I was first starting out I thought I needed a really fancy website so I hired someone to create a WordPress site and spent way too much money in the process.  It was pretty but I couldn’t easily edit it so I rarely used it or updated it. In the end I went with a more user friendly web builder site and created a website myself. 

What do you tell yourself During Your Darkest Hours?

  • It’s going to be OK
  • Keep pushing forward and find a solution that works, don’t give up and ask others for help.
  • When all else fails I phoned a friend for advice or comfort.

 To learn more about Happy Dough Lucky, visit

If you're a Parkway customer and would like to share your success story, please contact Linda Thell at If you are not a customer, but would like to be, please email

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