WOLF + FRIENDS is a new lifestyle platform for design-minded families to make informed buying decisions for their children in a space that is inclusive, empowering and fun. Our site and social channels highlight modern and imaginative decor, toys, furniture, fashion ideas that support a child's physical, sensory, communicative, cognitive, social, and emotional development.
Our goal is to educate families about shopping for children with intention and compassion. We are seeking to remedy a gap in the market for parents of both typically developing children and those with learning differences. Typically developing kids develop and learn in different ways, as do kids with ADHD, ASD, anxiety, SPD, 2e, and speech and language delays. Parents seeking specialized toys, decor, furniture, and clothes for their children are often sent to professional therapy websites. Unfortunately, these sites are often uninspiring, and searching for the right products can be disheartening.
On WOLF + FRIENDS you can find products that are sold on therapy sites alongside items found in mainstream, upscale, and independent retailers from around the world. Each product is vetted by our team of parents, kids, childhood development and special needs experts and can be used as learning tools to support a child's overall development.
Carissa Tozzi, Founder + Chief Creative Officer, is a Brand Consultant, Trend Forecaster and Special Projects Director from New York City with more than 15 years of experience in editorial development, celebrity casting, and public relations, working with media and fashion companies such as Refinery29, Seventeen Magazine, Madewell, J.Crew, YouTube, and MTV. Carissa recently moved from Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Easton, Connecticut with her husband Dino, their five-year-old son Wolf and rescue pup, Pepito. After having Wolf, she became obsessed with researching stylish kids' clothes, decor and toys on Instagram and Pinterest, but found that the brands and shopping sites she loved didn't address how to shop for kids like Wolf, who was typically developing, but needed toys, tools and ideas to support his sensory needs. So she created WOLF + FRIENDS, a shopping and lifestyle destination for families that was inclusive, informative, and fun.
Gena Mann, Partner + Chief Executive Officer, spent 10 years working as a Photo Editor in New York City for Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine, and CosmoGIRL! She left magazines shortly after her second son was born and her first child was diagnosed with autism at 2-years-old. She moved to Connecticut to create a therapeutic program for her son. She spends her days running around with her four kids (two girls followed the boys!), photographing them, and pouring over Instagram and Pinterest for cool kids clothing and design ideas. She and her husband, Billy Mann, are passionate about helping families who have children with special needs lead happy, fulfilling lives.
ADVISORS + FRIENDS
Paul Caine is a results-driven C-Suite executive who has successfully led premier companies such as Tremor Video, Bloomberg Media, WestwoodOne and Time Inc. to maximize profit. Caine is best known for building brands, creating and executing strategy, generating revenue across digital, mobile, broadcast television, print, audio and live events, developing and leading teams of up to 800 people. Expertise includes merger and acquisition, development of digital strategy and products, board work (public, private and non-profit) and entrepreneurship. Caine is widely recognized as an innovative corporate, industry and philanthropic leader, coach and mentor. Caine lives in New Jersey with his wife and three children.
Alescia Ford-Lanza MS OTR/L, ATP is an Occupational Therapist and Assistive Technology Practitioner with 15 years of pediatric experience. She specializes in educationally-relevant interventions with a focus on sensory integration and assistive technology supports to learning. Alescia recently founded Adapt & Learn, LLC. on the mission that children of all abilities can play, learn, adapt, and develop with the right therapeutic and educational supports. Alescia strives to help children along this continuum by fostering a love of learning.
Dr. Gwen Lopez-Cohen is a board certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist in Westport, Connecticut with clinical expertise in anxiety, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders. Prior to her career in medicine, Dr. Lopez-Cohen was an early childhood educator.
Susan Kaplow is a digital editorial executive with more than 17 years experience developing large content organizations and multi-platform programming for media companies including Refinery 29, The Huffington Post, Conde Nast, and Alloy Media and Marketing. Susan currently serves as Chief Content Officer at SheKnows media, the largest digital lifestyle platform for women. Susan lives in Brooklyn with her husband Mark, her two daughters Evan and Claude, and Ori, the world’s best rescue pup.
Courtney T. Gessin, MS, CCC-SLP, has been working with NYC children and families for the last 10 years. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from New York University and her Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Hunter College, The City University of New York. She has worked with children of all ages and is passionate about helping children find and develop their motivation, confidence, intelligence and self-awareness.
Alyse Kelly is an accomplished credit analyst with more than 15 years of experience analyzing the business and financial profiles of companies within the Media & Entertainment industries. Alyse is currently a Director at Valcour Capital Management LLC. Her experience includes making investment decisions pertaining to corporate loan transactions, assessing companies’ business plans and cash flow capabilities, and communicating with investors. Alyse lives in Connecticut with her husband James and her two daughters, who are begging her to get a dog.
Ariana Speyer is an experienced Editorial Director who is currently overseeing the editorial content and brand voice of the new app, dearduck. She has over 20 years of experience in media, including roles as the Editorial Director of the 5-million member shopping site Ideel, a Contributing Editor for Domino Magazine and Sherman’s Travel magazine, and as an Editor-in-Chief of the independent art magazine, index. As a copywriter, she has created brand books, web content, email marketing, and much more for clients that include Waterworks, Keds, and Adidas. Ariana lives in Manhattan with her husband Patrick and 4-year-old daughter Calliope, who is the inspiration for her involvement with WOLF + FRIENDS.