Worried that her purse would be stolen if left in the grocery cart, but not wanting to carry her heavy purse on her arm, Sally Robinson came up with a simple solution: She designed a way to attached her purse to the shopping cart.
In 2010, she shared her creation with her daughter, Dana Robinson, a marketing professional.
“She showed me a piece of fabric she made to hold the weight of a purse to a shopping cart so she wouldn’t have to worry about her purse being stolen. I knew that was a great idea,” said Dana Robinson, who lives in Louisville. “We decided to make it a key fob as well, so it wasn’t another gimmick to carry around. We called it a PurseKeyper, a 3-in-1 key fob, wristlet and purse holder.”
The mother-daughter business venture began in March 2011 and took off quickly.
“We secured a design patent, trademark and copyright. We pitched it to Dillard’s and were in 100 locations within six weeks,” Dana Robinson said. “We quickly secured a manufacturer, and after attending gift shows that summer, we were also in 400 gift stores across the country.”
Today, the product is called the KEYPER. It’s a fashion key ring bracelet that keeps keys handy, made of fabric that can hold up to 20 pounds. Its patented clip design allows it to be attached to a chair, railing, shopping cart, stroller, luggage or anything else, Dana Robinson said.
The products are manufactured in Lebanon, Va., and sold primarily online at mykeyper.com and other sales sites, including eBay, qvc.com and Amazon. In 2020, KEYPER’s gross revenue was over $350,000, Dana Robinson said.
“Our Christmas season sales were probably up 175% over last year,” she said.
Dana Robinson shared more about her company, also called KEYPER, for this edition’s Small Business Snapshot.
TLR: What products does your company provide?
DR: The KEYPER provides fashion, function and security in helping women keep up with their keys and secure a heavy bag when necessary. Our accessory IT BAG comes in two sizes, allowing versatility in turning the KEYPER into a wristlet to hold essentials such as a phone, credit cards, and now a mask. The larger bag was designed to hold an EpiPen and inhaler as well. We also offer a clear IT BAG that meets security requirements for concerts and ballgames.
TLR: How many employees do you have?
DR: Technically none. To date, we have used small independent contractors for our social media, website management, digital marketing, fulfillment and PR.
TLR: How did you get interested/started in your field?
DR: I have a bachelor’s in marketing from the UK. Sales is my passion. My career path started as Gov. Brereton Jones’ liaison in constituent services and the tourism cabinet. I ventured to LA to become actor Woody Harrelson’s personal assistant, and then moved to New York as a special events manager at Macy’s for five years, launching new products. This all came together when launching a company and product myself, learning the importance of networking, relationships and marketing.
TLR: What has been your biggest challenge as a company and how did you overcome it?
DR: We started in the brick-and-mortar retail outlets and struggled for years with the point of sale and how to communicate all of the benefits of our product. We could get “on the shelf, but not off the shelf.” As the e-commerce world was growing, we pivoted with our new brand of KEYPER, and have focused on online distribution channels. Online advertising lets us focus our message in more targeted and effective ways. We are reaching customers today through digital marketing efforts we had never dreamed of before. We continue to grow every year, with almost 200% growth from last year.