Tarpy Is Keeping It Clean And Easy

Kids are messy. Ask any parent and they will tell you. Whether it is food strewn across the floor while they eat or an art project gone awry, kids love to make messes and the parents are left to clean it up. A new product hopes to help relieve some of that stress.

“Keep it Clean, Keep it Easy,” is the tagline that Tarpy uses to promote their activity and cleanup canvas. The description of this product couldn’t be more dead-on. Tarpy acts, well, as a tarp. It can go under the highchair to catch any food that falls or under your child’s craft project to stop any glue, glitter, or other messy necessities from creating too much trouble. Once they’re done eating or creating, it’s as easy as picking up the Tarpy and putting the mess in the trash. It will protect surfaces that you want to remain unmarked and simplifies the cleanup process. Best of all, it is eco-friendly and made in the USA.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Tonya Yeager a few questions about her product.

Tell us a little about Tarpy.

The Tarpy® Activity & Cleanup Canvas ( 44″ x 52″) is a multi-purpose cleanup “mat” that protects surfaces and makes cleanup easy for those every day messes children make. It can be used at meal time or where ever children eat, arts & crafts, and it can even be used for outdoors to keep things from getting wet and dirty on the ground. There is a multitude of ways to use this “mat” for the expected and not-so expected adventures in daily life. The best part about it is made out of protective nylon coated fabric which is free of vinyl and PVC’s and it is machine washable.
What inspired it?

First, I have been working in the corporate world of sales for the past 10 years, and I am just at the point I want to get off hamster wheel and start using my talents for my long term goal of self sufficiency.

The idea was inspired when having a messy dinner with my 1 year old nephew and seeing how everything ended up on the floor.This set me off into a researching frenzy to see what sort of things were out there. Even though the concept does exist, I was amazed to find many pieces of vinyl with baby prints that were too small / big, and were not that easy to clean. You could use them for one thing, and that was it. There was an obvious opportunity to take a plastic mat that existed and make it into a really good product that has real life applications in more than one way. The way I think is if you are going to do something, do it well.

When was your business launched?

Even though I started the process in June of 2009, I launched my product in May of 2010.

How long did it take you to bring the Tarpy from idea to final product? What was that process like for you?

It took me about a year from concept to officially launching. I also work a full time job. I came into this industry with no knowledge of the process or how to even get started. There is a lot that goes into creating a product and business from scratch. I had to name the product/build a logo, get a trademark, find the right fabric, find the vendors for all of my components, find a sewing contractor, build a website, make packaging, do professional photo shoots for marketing, comply with all of the CPSC regulations, file for patents, make a video and retail displays, attend trade shows, and the list goes on. I had to figure all of this out and I honestly had no idea what I was getting into, but I just kept going and accumulating pieces of knowledge to bring this product into being. It has been an on-going process that has changed and evolved.

What goals do you have to accomplish in the coming years.

I am still in the very early phases of this business.

This year I am focusing on a lot of marketing and PR to get people familiar with my product and brand. My goal is to be in 50 – 80 retail and online stores by the end of 2011 and to also be picked up by catalogs for children’s products. I am starting the development of my next great idea to market under the Tarpy® brand.

Did you ever imagine that you’d create your own product and start a business?

Not initially. I always thought I would own my own business, but I never imagined creating a product.

What are some lessons your business has taught you?

Things always take longer than one might think. Patience and perseverance are critical. I didn’t think this would be easy by any means, I just have found it to be challenging in ways I didn’t anticipate. Just when I thought I had done the trench work, I found out I only had drawn a line in the dirt. In the invention/product creation industry there is a 1% – 2% success rate to make it “Big” and a 10% – 20% success rate to be able to maybe support yourself. I have a completely new respect for entrepreneurs.

Do you have any advice that you’d like to offer fellow entrepreneurs that are just getting started?

I would recommend investing in a good business coach at least in the early phases. It may save you time and money in the long run. I did not go that route, but knowing what I know now, I would have done it early on.

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