It took a personal scare five years ago to prompt Sarah Neal to start her new business.
The 42-year-old Nanaimo resident was visiting a busy Calgary shopping mall in 2003 when she looked around and couldn’t see her three-year-old son.
Although the boy had simply wandered off and was found a short time later, the incident made Neal realize the importance of children wearing identification bracelets to help them out in such an emergency.
So in July 2005 she started a home-based company with husband Gary Neal, selling colourful personal identification bracelets that kids don’t mind wearing.
Today, Vital ID – which saw sales revenues of $130,000 last year (up from $20,000 in 2006) – is selling the bracelets throughout the world.
And although it began as a niche market for children, Vital ID has grown to include medical and pet identification bracelets, with Sport ID options that strap onto running shoes and helmets.
“It was one of the worst 15 minutes of my life,” recalled Neal in an interview about the time her son went missing. “I felt sick. He was too young to communicate. Then I started looking at ideas, something he could show someone. I looked on the Internet and there was only one product at the time.
And I thought I could do better. So, I pulled out the sewing machine and started developing them [and] selling them to children’s websites.”