It all started with a mom, her three kids, some mushy blueberries and one genius idea.
Like most parents, Melissa Kieling aimed to send her children to school with the freshest and healthiest lunches possible. She grew up in a farming community in Iowa where her mom made everything from scratch and all of their food came from the backyard garden.
By the time Melissa had three school-age kids of her own, eating well away from home wasn’t so simple. She was frustrated with the disappointing options for keeping her kids’ lunches cool and safe at school. She'd have to stick toxic freezable gel packs in their lunchboxes, which inevitably got lost, or use wasteful plastic baggies of ice that always leaked. Even then, her kids complained that the fresh blueberries Melissa packed became too hot and mushy to eat by lunchtime.
One day Melissa thought to herself, “Why hasn't anyone put freezable gel inside the walls of a bag to keep things cool?” She cut apart a set of quilted ice packs and a shower curtain on her dining room table and pinned them together. Then she took it to her dry cleaner and asked her to sew together a prototype. Melissa popped the bag in the freezer overnight and gave it to her kids to test at school. To Melissa's delight, her bag finally kept healthy food cool all day! Her children raved about how fresh their meals tasted; soon Melissa's friends were asking for freezable lunch bags of their own. That’s when she realized that her idea had the potential to change lives everywhere. Families deserved a cooler that actually cooled, and she was just the mom to deliver it.
Melissa patented her idea, teamed up with a friend to start the business and worked with some of the best product manufacturers to bring her idea to life. In 2009 she launched the Personal Cooler, a foldable, freezable lunch bag that could keep food and drinks cool up to 10 hours—no ice packs needed.