When Dallas Robinson was in high school, he always had chapped lips. Between his favorite sports and the fact that none of the lip balms he tried worked, he had been worried what his prom date would say about his dry lips. That’s when Robinson had the idea that would change kissing forever: Kisstixx.
“I wanted a new lip balm that would change on contact, create a new flavor or a new experience when you kissed,” Robinson said.
As a business major at UVU, Robinson brought this idea back like a memory from his yearbook and shared it with the man who would become the co-founder of one of the most successful small businesses in the country, Mike Buonomo.
“For the next three days, it was all I could talk about. I must have annoyed the crap out of my wife,” Buonomo said.
Buonomo and Robinson decided to create Kisstixx, a lip balm of a new class. The idea behind Kisstixx is that of two separate flavors of lip balm, sold together in complimentary pairs for each of the kissers’ enjoyment. Flavors would include caramel and apple, pina colada and strawberry daiquiri and their latest concoction, fire and ice, a hot cinnamon/cool vanilla combo to create the perfect kiss chemistry.
The problem was they had no money to do it. They received quotes for their new company for figures around $14,000, well above what their wallets could handle. All they had were the eager young students of the marketing department in need of a senior project.
“They built our entire marketing plan, designed our logo and created our packaging,” Robinson said.
To create the actual product, the two visionaries sent out an invitation rather than a plea for help.
“We contacted chemists across the country and let them know they were competing for our product,” Robinson said.
The strategy worked like a charm, and they got a prototype without shelling out tens of thousands of dollars.
“The best part was testing the product with our wives,” Buonomo said.
However, the beginning wasn’t all smooth sailing. Robinson and Buonomo had a lot of experimenting to do in order to learn how to make their business successful. Through trials of different packaging, a kiosk at the mall, and some odd flavors, the two business majors learned firsthand what not to do.
“We tried a cheesecake flavor, that was horrible,” Robinson said. “We wanted a wedding themed one, like blueberries and cheesecake, except the cheesecake smelled like old cheese.” The champagne flavor went south too, not to mention the beer flavor fiasco that they never bothered to put on the market.
In August 2010, two months after they were open for business, Kisstixx sold its first pack of lip balm for five dollars.
“We were so excited. We were going to take our first five dollar bill and frame it,” said Buonomo. “But about three minutes later, a lady came by and bought two and we had to give it away as change.”
Success followed as Kisstixx went from five dollars profit to the object of dozens of retailers across the U.S. and investors from over 40 other nations. The company has won countless awards for their production triumphs, including a recent video contest from the Small Business Administration, in which over a hundred videos from other businesses competed. The company now has a website, kisstixx.com, for customers to browse through all the flavors and order some products.
Kisstixx continues to grow and thrive, from chapped-lip beginnings at Utah Valley University to the new kissing sensation sweeping the nation.
By Kyrie Hulick
Assistant News Editor