Amy Davis, a Weston mother of three with a background in education, was attending Sacred Heart University for her MBA and hoping to work in the non-profit sector when one car trip changed her life.
“I had this assignment from a marketing class to design a product, so I was thinking about it all the time. I was in the car with the kids, probably going to school, when someone needed a tissue. I was coming down the driveway and just about hit my neighbor’s fence reaching for the tissue box,” Davis said. “Then my dogs managed to trample the box, covered it with mud and water — as I got it out of the backseat, my eyes went to the cup holder and then to the tissue box — I thought, “There’s no reason it can’t be there!””
The refillable Kiss-U tissue tube is shaped to fit perfectly into a car cupholder, keeping tissues in easy reach. As Davis put her assignment together, friends, family, and classmates encouraged her to really pursue this idea — outside of the classroom.
“I’m talking to my professors, and I’m like “Okay, what do I do next?” Davis said. “The professors were great, but most of them worked for big companies, they really didn’t know about entrepreneurship.”
In December 2008, Davis was ready to take her business to the next level, she sought out Women’s Business Development Council in Stamford to orchestrate her next steps.
“She just had a spark, a determination, and a sense of passion,” Fran Pastore, President & CEO of Women’s Business Development Council, said.
That sense of passion paid off and just three years later, Davis' Kiss-U tissue tubes can be found in many local drugstores and in .
Working with Susan Cozzi, WBDC’s business counselor, Davis developed a professional financial projection and updated her business plan. With the help of WBDC, Davis secured a line of credit from Chase to bring manufacturing of her product from China to the US.
“I’m making a product consumed by Americans, it should be made here,” Davis said. “I think it’s really important for the environment to keep your production close to your consumers. Now there are certain things that you can’t do that — you can’t make Wisconsin cheese in Bulgaria — but these are paper goods, you can make them anywhere.”
“It’s costing her more, but just think of all the jobs she’s creating,” Pastore said.
Today, Davis is giving back and supporting Women’s Business Development Council with donations that could allow future entrepreneurs to gain resources to fulfill their goals too. As for Davis, she’s still expanding — looking for a world with a tissue tube in every car and passing along her own story to inspire anyone with an idea and a little determination.
“Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done,” Davis said. “Many people told me to just forget it, that I wasn’t ready. It’s like having kids, are you ever really ready to have kids? If you’d have asked me five years ago what I’d be doing today…it would have had nothing to do with tissues, I can tell you that much!”