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You can come with a lot of great ideas sitting around the camp fire, well they seem great at the time.
One fateful night around the fire with friends and family we decided to take the insulation technology and make it into a great product. Many names came about that night but the one that stuck with us was Toasty Tush.
Once we were home and recovered from our camping trip we began to google and search to see if this name was at all obtainable as a product name in Canada. One of the main places that we knew we should look was the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). Our search didn’t turn up anything that was a similar product and name. So as we moved forward with the product we applied for a registered Canadian trademark. *FYI, this is not something you need to spend the money to hire someone for, lesson learned. We also secured the domain name toastytush.com. Now our original google search did come up with a product called Toastie Tush, a heated toilet seat in the US. We however didn’t pay much attention to it though because our understanding was that it wasn’t a threat to us because it was spelled different, it was located in the US and it was a completely different product. So this is the part in the story where we are taught another lesson. We found out the spelling actually has absolutely nothing to do with it, even if it sounded the same it still might be an issue. So time to bring in the big guns, a Lawyer. He informed us that because we lived in two different countries there was nothing stopping us from using the name. Also a toilet seat and camp chair insulation were sold in two different industries so therefore posing no threat to one another. As well when we did expand into the US we would most likely be granted a trademark in their country as well because it would be hard to confuse the two products.
So now we have reached a dilemma, do we go forward and fight for the name Toasty Tush? Or do we market the product under a different name for the US?
For now we have decided to introduce Kozy Tush to the US to avoid any legal trouble. What do you think, does it matter whether we call the product Toasty Tush or Kozy Tush? It’s the same great product but simply a different name. What are your thoughts?
Our Story in RV West Magazine
For cozy camping in Canada, you need this new product
The Toasty Tush chair cover makes nights around the campfire more fun
Toasty Tush has become a family affair, with Laurie Mullin, husband Scott and daughters Brooke and Ella all pitching in to help out with keeping campers cozy. — Photo courtesy of Laurie Mullin
by GAIL JANSEN-KESSLAR
Published May 2012
In the heartbeat it took for a car to sideswipe her as she loaded groceries into her car, Laurie Mullin’s life was forever changed. Today, nearly two years later, Mullin is starting to believe that perhaps everything does indeed happen for a reason.
Mullin has been an avid camper since she was a child, and remembers one snowy May long weekend as family and friends gathered around the campfire a friend who worked on the pipeline offered them all a piece of insulation to keep them warm as they sat.
“It was awesome,” said Mullin. “They kept us nice and warm and we used those little pieces of cut insulation for about two years.”
The summer following her accident, unable to return to her work as an optician due to the nerve damage she suffered, Mullen and her family did a lot of camping and used their little pieces of insulation to stay warm almost constantly.
“The only problem was,” said Mullin, “every time you’d get up from your chair they’d blow off or fall down, and I thought, “you know, I bet I could make a cover for this that would hold it on to the chair.” That’s when the idea for Toasty Tush was born.
At first friends started asking for their own chair covers, and then friends of friends, until Mullin and her husband Scott realized that they might be on to something. They put up a website to allow people to order the product online, but it would be months before Mullin finally took the business to the next level.
Keeping campers cozy
The near-constant pain from her accident that took its toll on Mullin both physically and mentally. She found herself in a state of limbo, not really knowing what direction she should take the product or even if she should pursue the idea at all. Her husband Scott finallyl gave her the push she needed to pick up the pieces of her business and her life and start again.
“He just looked at me one day and said ‘what are you doing with this business?’ and when I told him I didn’t really think it would amount to much he just straight out told me ‘I don’t believe that, I believe that you can make something of this. You just need to get up and do it.’ ”
And so she did. Mullin pursued a patent and trademark that are now officially recognized. She described the Toasty Tush as an insulated camp chair cover lined with aluminum insulation that adiates your body’s own natural heat back at you. Designed to fit most recreation chairs, the product offers complete coverage from the back of a user’s shoulders all the way down to the backs of their thighs. It fits snugly over the back of a chair to eliminate the need for straps or ties. It can be easily rolled up and secured with the attached elastics to make it easy to store or take along, and comes in a variety of different covers and patterns. The Toasty Tush is made from a combination of cotton and polyeste and is machine washable.
Mullin’s next step in her business plan is to align herself with a major retailer and look for a manufacturer that could meet the ever-rising demand in higher volume. But don’t look for Mullin to be completely hands-off when the time comes to turn over production.
“I want to be the one that hand-makes the customized ones,” said Mullin. “So orders that come in through our website that are looking for a particular pattern or fabric will be ones I make myself.”
Try it and you’ll buy it
To date, the biggest obstacle in Mullin’s way has been simply “getting people’s butts into them.”
“Once you try it, you’ll buy it,” said Mullin with confidence. “I just need to figure out a way to get people to try them out in the first place so they can realize how much more comfortable they could be sitting around the fire.”
Keep an eye out for Mullin and her family at a campground near you, for as they head out with their family and friends to make their normal rounds of camping this summer they’ll also be giving a few lucky campers the chance to try the Toasty Tush.
“This summer as we camp we’re just going to walk around, meet some people and say here, try these for a night, and let us know if you like them. We’re betting it will be a fight to get them back.”
Nearly two years have passed from that fateful day which changed her future irrevocably, but Mullin has decided to start looking forward not back.
“I have always believed that things happen for a reason. Sometimes it just takes a while to figure out why. With a leap of faith and a lot of hard work I believe we can make this dream a reality.”
Starting up a new business has been quite the experience so far. Initially it was a fun hobby that brought in a little extra money. Once we decided to take the plunge and try and turn our hobby into a business the money started going out much faster than it comes in. Thankfully I have a very supportive Husband who has even sold his beloved Harley to get this business off the ground.
I really like to know how to do things myself, not only to save money but there is such a sense of pride knowing that we did this. First off I decided that I could definitely learn how to make my own website and initially I was very pleased with the end result. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to pay someone thousands of dollars to create their page for them. Well I have now learned why…html amd all that code talk is downright jibberish!…it is so time consuming!…depending on these do it yourself sites can really limit your creativity. However I was determined to follow through with my “can do it” attitude and try and revamp our website. So lately I’ve read a lot on what is important to have on your site to try and turn those visitors into buyers. The more I learned the more I realized that our original site might be pretty to look at but it lacked some of the fundamentals needed for an ecommerce site.
So this past month we have been designing a new website for Toasty Tush and it finally went live May 1st. . We would love to know your thoughts on how it is to navigate, good or bad please leave your opinions.
Toasty Tush by Vista Fabrications
Toasty Tush auditions for Dragons Den
Since the beginning of Toasty Tush, it has always been a running joke that we should take this idea to Dragons Den. Well we turned that joke into a reality last month. The hit CBC show held auditions in Calgary last month at the University. So we packed up the kids and headed to the big city. The experience was one we won’t soon forget. Witnessing first hand all that goes into a TV show was very interesting. There were about 50 other inventors there with us (approx 2000 across the country), the ones we spoke with were all such amazing people. Since this was only the audition process the actual Dragons were not there, however the host Diane Buckner was and we were able to see her in action. When our number was called we set up our props and pitched our business to a producer of the show. She asked all the tough questions just like the Dragons would have. I believe we did a great job getting across what a terrific product Toasty Tush is. She even wanted one for herself! So now it is out of our hands, all we can do is cross our fingers and wait for the phone to ring. With any luck you will see us on television in the fall when the new season airs!
I am missing from the picture, in hindsight we really should have had someone take a picture of all of us together.