Creative Child

Seeing the Mug Half Full

How the Parental Support for One Child’s Dyslexia Helped Launch a Best-Selling Product and Successful Business
by Deborah Song


Being involved in a full-fledged business has been a natural fit for 11 year-old Max Ash, who prior to founding his company, MAX’IS Creations, was a veteran of lemonade stands and yard work. The logistics of mass commerce may have been introduced to Max Ash by his parents, but he displayed entrepreneurial interests early on, a trait independent of his older brother Sam Ash.

And it is this natural curiosity about making money that continues to fuel the 10-year-old kidpreneur to invest a few hours a week into his business, even if that means doing things he doesn’t always enjoy like inputting data into Google Docs. Max Ash is able to see the bigger picture.

“I love basketball shoes,” he’s admitted.

The more unnatural fit came for Max Ash’s parents, Jennifer and Ronald Ash, who have had no prior background in business. She is a corporate psychologist and her husband is a hospital administrator.

“Sometimes you got to follow your kids,” Jennifer Ash said.

They didn’t go in blindly though and were careful about their approach to business. After being named one of the finalists for an invention contest sponsored by The Grommet and (a contest that wasn’t for kids), Max Ash, with the help of his parents, also ran a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo and raised over $6000.

One of the first third-party retailers Max Ash partnered with accrued over 2,900 Facebook likes, the most in the company’s history. And once The Mug With a HoopTM launched with another retailer to great acclaim, they realized the product would sell and dove in.

Max Mug 

For Jennifer and Ronald Ash, however, the real impetus for starting a business on top of their already demanding careers were the pain points their son encountered as a young child. There were times, like when Max Ash was unable to participate in his first kindergarten show and tell, which often left Jennifer Ash wondering, “Would he go to a good college? Would he have a good career? Would this learning disability negatively impact his life?”

The Mug With a HoopTM turned out to be a beautiful example of how Max Ash’s dyslexia could give him an edge, according to his parents. And perhaps more motivating than turning a profit, the mug continues to be their way of showing the world what children with learning disabilities can accomplish. They have partnered with, an offshoot of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, which the mug features on its packaging. And Max Ash donates 5 percent of his profits to charities that support learning disabilities.

MAX’IS Creations, Inc. is now a family-run business. It keeps the family on their toes with Max Ash as the Chief Creator, his brother Sam Ash as the Chief Product Tester, and his parents doing much of the back-end work. But the business has also provided amazing learning opportunities for Max Ash. The former child who had trouble at his first show tell, was a keynote speaker at a Youth CITIES entrepreneurship event and even received a standing ovation.

The mug is now sold at retailers like Nordstrom, Uncommongoods, The Grommet and even the Basketball Hall of Fame gift shop. And Max Ash has since added other sport mugs including The Mug With a GloveTM, The Mug With a GoalpostTM, The Soccer Mug With a GoalTM and The Hockey Mug With a NetTM.

Whether Max Ash was able to conjure up his inventions because of his dyslexia or despite of it is a matter of perspective. He has a gift, simply put, as many children with learning disabilities do. But the gift for Max Ash is really twofold. Because when it comes to children who have challenges (and all kids have challenges to a certain extent), how the child turns out largely depends on how the challenge is perceived by the parent, whether it’s a burden or a gift. In this case, Max Ash’s parents perceived his dyslexia as a gift.

When I asked Max Ash how he’s benefited from his dyslexia, he referred me to banner on his school building: “Children with dyslexia see the world differently. Isn’t the world lucky they do?"

Related Article: Positive Parenting Tweens

Photos courtesy of MAX’IS Creations, Inc.

Deborah Song is the founder of, a cruelty-free company committed to creating travel accessories that help travelers journey with ease, efficiency and elegance. She loves to travel the globe in pursuit of good food, wider life perspectives and great adventure stories with her kids. Deborah is a Canadian-born, mompreneur and Los Angeles-based writer, who obtained her master’s in journalism from New York University. You can find her travel stories at

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