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Daily Inspiration: Meet Melissa Hyslop

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Hyslop.

Melissa, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
My first-born son went from being a sweet & cuddly baby to a cranky drool monster almost overnight.

Why? You guessed it. Teething had taken over leaving him with painful gums and even chapped hands because he kept using them to self-soothe his gums. I had a teething product idea though to help him & other teething babies. Something that would change the teething landscape globally.

My vision was a product that would protect the baby’s hands from getting chapped, prevent constant dropping/losing teething toys plus aid the baby in accessing independent pain relief. It also had to be made of food-grade silicone and offer sensory benefits like a stimulating visual pattern and crinkly sounds.

It was a teething mitten… it was, the Munch Mitt. Although it took three years of R&D to launch in the industry, it was a massive success. The wait and patience were worth the time as the Munch Mitt was sold in over 50 countries within the first 18 months of its release.

Its success of it has allowed me to create even more fun, functional baby products. These include the Buddy Bib, the Chew Cube, the Munch-It Blanket, Teether Tether, Teether Teether Teether as well as many other innovative teething products.

Despite the success of my business, Malarkey Kids Inc, in March 2020, I was diagnosed with Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). It started when I began experiencing extreme neuropathy pain; my right ear lobe was numb; I had bruises around my eyes, I was tired and I was scared.

I waited two weeks before I went to emergency since COVID-19 (coronavirus) reared its ugly head at the same time. I had heard that hospitals were refusing to accept patients unless they were dying. Indeed, that was the case as I was rejected by the first hospital.

However, a day after, I went to another hospital that admitted me and knew, within an hour, that I had a blood cancer of some sort. I was not going home for a bit. Little did we know that I would not go home for a year. That my new life would be trying to survive ALL.

I was 40; a wife and mommy to three boys eight, five, and one. The doctors told me about the long road ahead, which was much longer than anticipated, because I ended up having numerous infections, including one that almost killed me – twice.

Never in a million years did I think my family would be discussing my last rights when we should have been teaching my youngest to walk, my middle child to read and my oldest to ride a bike. Thankfully the doctors were able to control my infections and cancer with over 52 pills daily. In addition, I had to have a stem cell transplant as the blood in my body was poisoning me. No one in my family was a match.

Luckily, I had a match in Europe. I had a second birthday – a rebirthday. That is what doctors say about stem cell recipients. Their rebirthday is the day their donor’s precious cells are given to bring immune systems back to life after several grueling rounds of high-dose chemotherapy.

While all this was happening, Malarkey Kids was being run by the six staff members who remained after covid-layoffs. For 18 months, six women gave up much of their family life to help “our” company survive. These women were resourceful, supportive, and as loyal as employees can be.

Today, we are a full team again, working together to create more innovative products. Most of all, we are healthy and together again.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
A low point is when the Munch Mitt was copied and then copied again and again – even Munch Mitt counterfeits were made. Despite having a patent, companies saw the success the Munch Mitt had in the teething market and wanted in on its profitability.

Sadly, many did not go through the rigorous safety testing the Munch Mitt does and at times it was confusing for some of the fakes. Malarkey Kids countered with an extensive Buyer Beware Campaign. That problem only made me be more determined to create more innovative products.

From the Munch Mitt, the Crib Chomper, and all the products in between, I strive to bridge the gap in much-needed products that are unparalleled in the teething industry.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Before beginning a business in manufacturing baby products, I was the co-owner of one of the first successful, speed dating companies in North America.

After a successful ten-year career in the dating industry, which included meeting my husband and starting a family, I paired my success as an entrepreneur from the dating industry to creating award-winning baby products throughout the world.

Further, I am the president of a non-profit dog rescue called Travellers Animal Rescue. My success provided me with the opportunity to help those who can’t help themselves.

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
Aside from my cancer diagnosis, the team struggled with the loss and temporary closing of a number of stores that sold our products. Big box stores are what kept us in business and for that, we are so grateful.

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