Kelley Higney: Solving Everyday Problems with Innovative Solutions

Play episode

When Kelley Higney moved to Florida, she knew she’d face some challenges: She was a young mother in a new state. She was in a new house in a new town. But there was one problem she didn’t expect: her daughter’s severe reactions to mosquito bites. Higney would watch helplessly as her six-month-old daughter’s limbs would swell just minutes after being bitten. After trying everything she could – every ointment, every gimmick – Higney knew she was going to have to find an answer on her own. She did some research, and found an answer in a strange little tube: a suction tool that could pull the venom and saliva out of the bite, stopping the allergic reaction before it even had the chance to start. 

“I started testing with just this one little sample I had purchased on friends and family,” Higney said. “Everybody was getting similar reactions and that’s when I’m like, okay, maybe I’m onto something. So I was able to get in touch with the factory. I pitched them my idea. I told them that every mom and everybody that was suffering here needed to know about this product because it’s, it was life-changing for me and my family.”

So how did Kelley take a quest to help her daughter and turn it into a powerhouse company with products in 25,000 retailers and 25 different countries? Find out on this week’s episode of The Journey.

Main Takeaways:

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Start Small: Good ideas rarely explode overnight, and good entrepreneurs know the value of a slower start. Most businesses need to grow and evolve slowly, and it’s an entrepreneur’s job to find customers whoever and wherever possible, even if it means pitching and selling at a local market or your child’s school functions.
  • Surround Yourself with People Who Can Help You Grow: Regardless of when or if your business takes off, you need to have a network of people to lean on and learn from. Find people you admire — even within your own family — and tap into them for advice, feedback, or support to take your business to the next level.
  • Protect Your Product: Good ideas and successful products will always be met with copycats. To ensure that those imitators don’t steal your market share, do your homework and take the steps necessary to protect yourself.

Key Quotes:

On the importance of knowing what you’re good at: “I always wanted to be a teacher. I was actually a preschool teacher in my former life. As early as I can remember, I was always playing with dolls and teaching and always wanting to give somebody a piece of information that could be valuable in their life.” 

On the value of feedback: “People were willing to give it a chance. And during that period of time, I gathered so much critical feedback on the words I needed to create the way I teach the concept so people could understand the science behind it. Trying to educate the world on a new concept is not a really easy task.” 

On remembering the value of grassroots networking: “I started out in my local community, so I got a little taste of networking early on. I literally went to chamber events and got a good taste of who else in my community was in business. What I really discovered was having a network of people in your industry who are doing the same types of things you are… is extremely impactful and beneficial.”


Kelley Higney is the founder and CEO of Bug Bite Thing. She grew up in San Diego, California, and worked with her mother, Ellen McAlister, on her family’s international export and distribution business, A.C. Kerman, for 15 years before starting Bug Bite Thing. She’s a member of the Forbes Business Council and Fast Company Executive Board, and has been named “Female Entrepreneur of the Year” by the 2021 Stevie Awards for Women in Business 2021. 

She is passionate about increasing awareness on the thousands of chemicals approved for use in personal care products, and hopes to inspire other momprenerus to seek innovative and chemical-free solutions to common problems.

This season of the Journey is produced by Mission.org and brought to you by UPS. To learn how UPS can help your small business, go to UPS.com/pivot.


Episode 111