Mother-Daughter Business Ideas: The Full Story Behind Bug Bite Thing

start a business with your mom - pin image

Have you ever considered starting a business with your mom?

Usually, people advise never to start a business with family or friends if you can avoid it. Even though it starts out well-intentioned, it can complicate your relationship in a bad way.

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But South Florida mom Kelley Higney wasn’t having any of that.

Kelley started a business with her mom and in the spirit of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share with you details on the dynamic mother/daughter duo behind Bug Bite Thing, and Kelley Higney’s advice on what it is really like to run a business with your mother.

This is their story and how their joint business got started.

Funny enough, it starts with Kelley’s own daughter!

And if you are feeling inspired to start your own business right from your home, here’s a list of low investment business ideas for women to choose from.


Kelley and her mother Ellen

After many failed attempts to relieve her daughters’ suffering from mosquito bites, Kelley researched how other countries combat bites. 

She discovered a unique product that uses suction to effectively remove insect saliva/venom from under the skin to eliminate itching, stinging and swelling by removing the irritant.

Amazed by the effectiveness of the product, she knew she needed to make it accessible to other families and offer them the same relief.

Together, Kelley Higney and her mother, Ellen McAlister were inspired to start Bug Bite Thing, a chemical-free, kid-friendly, and reusable insect bite suction tool. A product which has gone on to become an Amazon’s best seller for insect bite relief. No. 1 actually.

In 2019,  Kelley and Ellen appeared on ‘Shark Tank’ and received offers from all of the Sharks, and accepted an offer from Lori Greiner.

Here’s a video of the scary investors fighting over Bug Bite Thing.

All Five Sharks Are Interested In Bug Bite Thing - Shark Tank

Since appearing on Shark Tank in October 2019, Bug Bite Thing has:

  • Moved from operating out of our garage to a 5500 sq ft. facility 
  • Increased staff from 2 to 16 

In this Q&A session with mompreneur Kelley Higney, we’ll learn how things really have been for the mother/daughter duo and their business.

Hi Kelly! Your story is so inspiring, can you tell us how long have you worked with your mother?

My entire life!

I grew up answering phones for my mom’s business as soon as I could talk. 

When my mom’s international clients were in town, they would stay at our house. We would go to Las Vegas for tradeshows once a month as early as I can remember.  As an adult, I worked with my mom for over fifteen years on the family business A.C. Kerman, before starting Bug Bite Thing. 

Ah! So it’s nothing new for you. What is the best part of running a business together?

The inherent trust factor and never having to question the other person’s motives. 

Trust, wow I wasn’t expecting that! That is to say that this has brought you closer. So how do you maintain a successful working relationship?

My mother and I have a call every morning and we take the time to listen to one another’s ideas. 

We each bring a different perspective on how to accomplish things. 

Taking the time to communicate our ideas to one another often leads to a healthy compromise. 

We maintain a relationship where we both feel respected and heard.  

Also, laughter; my mom and I crack each other up and when she needs an extra boost, she comes over to see her granddaughters. They send her into laughing fits constantly. 

How do you support one another?

We know each other very well. We can sense when the other person is stressed. 

For example, my mom is always telling me to ‘breathe.’ Her ability to recognize when I am stressed even before I recognize it, helps her to determine how to approach conversations with me.   

Can you tell us please, what has been the most rewarding part of working together?

Going on ‘Shark Tank’ and receiving an investment from Lori Greiner has opened up tremendous business opportunities for us. 

Seeing each other engage in conversations with top business executives, have them ask us tough questions and respect our opinions, makes us very proud of one another.

This is an interesting relationship truly, I would be proud too. Share please what have you learned from your mother so far?

Everything I know! 

I am a third-generation female entrepreneur. It is mom’s advice and knowledge, which she also received from her mother, that has gotten me to where I am today.  

Your mother, she sounds like a very wise woman. What is the best business advice she’s given you?

Be open to new possibilities and always be gracious.

My mom always taught me that a “no” is just a “no for now,” and it could be a “yes” in a month.  

She always taught me to find the angle to make a situation a win-win-win. I am always looking for ways to make an opportunity advantageous for all parties. 

And finally, always remain on good terms with anyone you encounter in business. Never forget to send a thank you note to people who reach out to you, even if the answer is “no.” 

Much as your mom is wise, it takes two to tango and you’ve been an incredible business partner too from what I can see. What is the best advice you would give to someone thinking about going into business with their mother?

Thank you Lily!

Know one another’s strengths and weaknesses and be willing to admit your own. This is important when deciding who is better to oversee certain aspects of the business. 

And create boundaries from the beginning. Only discuss work during work hours and personal matters after hours. 

Thank you for your time Kelly.

And that’s it.

If you are feeling inspired and want to start a business of your own alone, or with your mom, here’s a list of low investment business ideas perfect for women who want their time and freedom back.

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