Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 24, 2013

Start-up business outside the box

BY GLENN PUIT
gpuit@record-eagle.com

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Most aspiring entrepreneurs turn to financial institutions for help in starting their business, and incur debt that over the long haul can make or break a small business.

Sue Kellogg pursued a different financial model in starting her Traverse City-based Mello & Co., which develops and produces children’s toys.

“I just never thought about going to a bank,” Kellogg said. “There’s other ways to do things.”

Kellogg created what she called her “pop bottle fund,” in which she spent countless hours approaching area businesses and friends to collect pop bottles and raised more than $1,000 to help fund her trademark fees and CAD services.

She also secured funding from Start Garden, which offers seed money for start-up businesses. She spent her own time and money on product development, which allowed her to avoid hiring staff. The end result was the creation of her company’s pioneer product, Nawgum Teething Toy, now sold in 50 boutiques nationwide.

Kellogg intends to keep the success going with more product development. She’s launched a fundraising campaign at www.rockethub.com that seeks financing from interested parties in exchange for product.

You can go to the website and learn more about her business by searching Mello or Nawgum.

“Demand is increasing and to keep the manufacturing run alive, that’s what this pledging campaign is for,” Kellogg said. “I’m an outside-the-box type of girl.”