Transforming a Childhood Tradition
Entrepreneurs Ed and daughter Luciana Hanley were inspired by a familiar childhood tradition – building play forts out of furniture. Years ago, with three daughters and a mess of furniture forts, Ed decided to innovate. “I hit the local fabric store and decided to sew fabric together to make an easy-to-assemble blow up fort for the girls. It worked and they loved it!” Ed explained. Now, years later, the father-daughter team have transformed the homemade fort into an innovative toy – the Air Fort.
In October 2015, Ed and Luciana were invited to present the Air Fort at the ABC Kids Expo Show in Las Vegas. “Each year they select about 20 new inventions to showcase,” Luciana shared. “It was there that we met some very key people who have been instrumental in helping make Air Fort a reality.”
Names: Ed and Luciana Hanley
Community: Rancho Santa Fe
Family: Dad – Ed; Mom – Rainey; Daughters – Luciana (24), Ariana (22), Rosalina (27)
Hobbies: “One of our favorite things to do together is watch The Bachelor and eat popcorn on Monday nights. You wouldn’t think an older dad would like that show, but he openly admits that it’s one of his favorites!” – Luciana
Favorite Places in Rancho Santa Fe: Thyme in the Ranch, Secret Car Club, The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, and the RSF Golf Club for lunch overlooking the 18th green
With a solid direction and the right connections, they put their strengths to work. Luciana explained, “My dad has a great engineering mind and always takes the tasks that deal with numbers and engineering of the Air Fort, while I took the more creative tasks such as marketing and social media.” The collaboration has been one of their favorite aspects of Air Fort. “Early on we had a couple rough spots, but now that we have been working together for almost a year and a half, we get each other and know when to stop if tension arises,” Ed acknowledged.
In the face of entrepreneurial challenges, Ed and Luciana have turned to family and friends. “We have found that other people love to help you out,” Luciana shared. As for her one piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: “Go for it! Life is way too short to let a great idea go. Or even worse, having someone else come up with the same idea and then bring it to market.”
One of the long-term goals is to give Air Forts to kids suffering from cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. “What was most inspiring about the Air Fort idea was that it created a private space, sort of cut off from the outside world where kids, or even adults, could get away and play, read, or even have a sleepover,” Ed said. “When you are in an Air Fort with kids you can instantly notice they really get into their own little world. They get excited and focus on their world of play.”