How I'm Skirting the Rules

I Became an Entrepreneur By Solving a Common Problem

Kelly Hediger, founder of the newly-launched KissAway Wipes, is helping people remove pesky lipstick stains from glassware.

headshot of Kiss Away founder Kelly Hediger

Kiss Away founder Kelly Hediger noticed a common problem, so she came up with a solution (literally)—and now it's earning her money.

One night when Kelly Hediger’s son and husband were doing the dishes, she overheard her son say to her husband, “Why is mom’s lipstick always so hard to get off the wine glasses?” She didn’t think much of the comment at the time. But the next morning, a co-worker told her how her boyfriend was getting annoyed at how her lipstick was always getting stuck on his nice wine glasses. Hediger felt like this coincidence was “a God thing” and couldn’t ignore it, so in April 2016, she started conceptualizing a product that launched in November 2016. KissAway Wipes are all-natural, scratch-free, pre-moistened towelettes that remove lipstick stains from any kind of glassware ($8.99 for a resealable package of 24).

While developing liquid solutions with various ingredients in her kitchen, like a chemist, she remembers calling over to her husband and asking, “Honey, you think I’m crazy?” He’d say “No,” and she’d reply, “OK, I’ll ask you in another month!” When testing the solutions, she wanted to be as authentic as possible, so she kept pouring wine into each glass. “Finally, I was like, I can’t be drinking wine all day long! I’ll be at Betty Ford and I won’t have any products.” It was her husband who suggested putting water in each glass. “I thought, water! Yeah, that’s a much better idea,” says Hediger.

Hediger also runs a company called Sales and Marketing Solutions South, Inc., but has learned how to juggle both jobs. Having both of her kids out of the house now helps, but so do these strategies that she’s learned along the way.

I or my company is Skirting the Rules by being a rebel, I guess. Following rules is not an easy thing for me to do. I was focused on launching KissAway Wipes on a budget, and a friend told me that it was going to cost $5,000 to apply for a patent. I said: ‘You know what? No.’ I brought my business manager in and I said, “The two of us are going to figure this out. Let’s do this ourselves.” We went to the trade and patent office website and applied, and then I called up the office to follow up. I asked the woman on the phone if any area of the application was incorrect and she said, “There’s not one thing that’s right in this application.” Ouch! But I asked her if she could guide us and after three hours on the phone, we did what they asked us to do. I proved to myself that I could do it without an attorney. There are a lot of ways to accomplish things. A lot of people will help you—you just have to ask. Take a lot of notes and then take the next step. And if you say or do something wrong, just ask, “What can I do differently?”

 A time when I found the possible (a creative solution) within the impossible (against incredible odds) was when I had to handle manufacturing the wipes, but I didn’t know anything about manufacturing. I did a lot of Googling and I made a bunch of calls. I called a company that makes wipes and asked to speak to the top person there and said, “I’ve got a solution. I can’t give you the ingredients. Can you send me the wipes and then I’ll put my solution on them, and then I’ll send them back to you and you can put them in a package? Is that how it works?” This guy said to me, “No, no, and no.” He literally shut me down, like I was the dumbest person in the world. So I said, “OK, what does No #1 mean? And No #2? And No #3?” So when I called the next person on my list, I had a more productive conversation, because I learned something each time I spoke with someone. I kept going.

An example of how listening to my intuition has helped me was during a time when I was meeting with a client who is a big hunter and has stuffed deer and buffalo heads on the walls of his office. The decor was a little unusual. So I broke the ice by asking, “Do you get lonely in here?” He said, “Yeah, when I start talking to them is when I need to go on a sales call.” Then he tells me that he’s on the fence about working with me because “other firms won’t charge as much as you.” So I turned to him and pointed to my face and said, “This is also expensive.” I thought, this is either going to be funny or not, but I had to take the chance. He died laughing. Humor is a tremendous tool and when used effectively, it works wonders. If you make the person laugh, you disarm them. They are on your side.  

My secret talent is that I have a pretty good gut and I can read people really well. I use that skill when I’m hiring. I have hired two people in my career that had no relevant experience at all. One was an assistant. I hired her because she was friendly and fun. I went home and told my husband, “She’s adorable.” He asked, “Can she type?” I said, “I have no idea.” But she was a great hire.

Another time I was getting my nails done by someone and I immediately liked her: her body language, the way she interacted with me, her tone, her kindness, her genuineness. I knew she’d be great at sales. She ended up working for me for five years.

A woman is most powerful when she doesn’t necessarily see herself as only a woman. That’s one-dimensional. I grew up with all brothers and if you wanted someone in your family to play with, you needed to learn how to throw a football or shoot pool. They weren’t going to play dolls. See yourself as who you are, not your gender. I’m one of the biggest promoters of women and I try to remind them to see themselves for their talents and interests. Just focus on being genuine.

 What I wish I had told my myself when I was starting out is, probably, in retrospect, I should have gone back to take some night classes in certain areas, like in areas of technology. For example, I’m terrible at Excel. But, again, that’s part of my nature—I wing it. I’m more of a ‘jump in and swim’ kind of person than a ‘learn and dot every i’ kind of person. But I don’t spend much time looking back or thinking about that. I just look forward. I think that’s part of a salesperson’s mentality—it’s just kind of the way our DNA is made.

My favorite skirt (a.k.a a life hack or life rule) is to be kind, loving, compassionate, and flexible. I really believe in that. When you care for others, the return is tremendous. I think that’s part of the reason why my teams have been together for so long. I’ve had very few people leave because we are a family here. I had one salesperson leave after 11 years to be a full-time mom and I cried because she was leaving, because I love her so much.