Melissa Hyslop is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out Burlington, Ontario. She is a finalist for The 2017 Mompreneur Startup Award, representing her rapidly growing corporation, Malarkey Kids Inc., and her mom-invention, the Munch Mitt!
How did Melissa’s entrepreneurial journey with The Munch Mitt transpire?
“I think that being a mom in itself is a huge challenge and much deserving of a reward for all of us that do it! That being said, creating a company while being a mom is another level of difficult. I feel like my husband, parents and even my babies should get credit – for taking the brunt of stress breakdowns, emotional rants, late nights, cranky mornings, not getting that brand new coat (maybe next year!) and for just straight putting up with me.
Malarkey Kids (originally Munch Baby Inc.) started with a single product, the world’s first teething mitten called The Munch Mitt. The Munch Mitt was inspired by my oldest son who cut his first two teeth at 3.5 months of age. The constant chewing on his hands for teething relief caused dry, cracked skin and cuts from his little razor blade like teeth. I thought there must be something that exists that will protect his hands but also ease his teething pain. Well… there wasn’t. So I set out to make one, and that is how the Munch Mitt was born. With almost 3 years of product research, design, development, planning and immense support from family and friends, I finally did it (when my oldest son was 3 lol!). Today we are a quickly growing company with an actual office and employs 5 amazing local moms. We have launched a 2nd product, and we now sell the Munch Mitt in over 7 countries internationally, over 2,000 independent stores in North America and into major accounts such as Toys R Us.”
Melissa’s Top 5 Tips for Other Women Thinking of Starting a Business:
- Know your strengths and weaknesses and know them well. If you know you are not good in certain areas, get help early, whether that be from friends who have skills in these areas or from hiring – it is important not to try and do everything yourself. This will only hold you back in the long-run.
- Research – become your own scientist. Figure out if the idea you have has been done before (this is not a deal breaker) and what would make your idea different or unique; does it fill a need? Figure out who your competitors in the space are and how they are doing. Delve into the industry you want to get into by attending trade shows and talking to people. Get to know the who’s who and what’s what of that industry. For products – research patents, trademarks and copyrights, what kind there are and how they do and do not protect you.
- Find a mentor – this should be a person specifically who is in or has been in the industry you want to get into. Pay for this if you have to, it is worth its weight in gold.
- Plan – write a business plan, study it and re-visit it. It is okay to revise it or go outside of this plan when needed but in writing the plan it will help you figure out what your ultimate goal is and whether or not this journey is feasible for you.
- Get your financials in order. Do not start something you can’t finish – make sure you have the finances to back you up. Emergencies happen and sometimes it takes longer to grow than planned. Make sure your family life will not be affected drastically by your ambition and pursuit. Evaluate whether the risk is worth the reward, if so, set some money set aside or work to find investors. Investors with knowledge in the industry are far more valuable than finance-only investors.
Connect with Melissa