Colorado cool stuff: Sleash, Suncups, Topo and the Mutt & the Mustang
Joe Buescher and Mike Saber, co-workers in the telecom industry and dog lovers, teamed to invent a slinger, which can not only fling balls for Fido to fetch but also Frisbees and bumpers.
"We started out like a couple of mad scientists," Buescher says. "The design kept morphing and morphing and morphing until we could sling everything that dogs like."
Made in Colorado, the Sleash includes a slinger with a leash attachment, and other accessories can carry bags, keys and other dog-walking necessities. Buescher and Saber's whistling ball has also gotten "rave reviews," and it shows: The Sleash is now available in seven states and about 40 stores just six months after its spring 2011 launch. Kits and accessories: $5 to $35 retail.
Made by Sleash LLC, Littleton, (855) 475-3274, www.sleash.com . Available at numerous pet stores in Colorado; a dealer locator is on the website.
David Lurie, former general manager of Boulder's St Julien Hotel, and brothers Rick and Neil Levine, a techie and a graphic designer respectively, jumped careers when they launched Seth Ellis Chocolatier in 2008.
After focusing on truffles, the trio fielded a request for peanut butter cups without the peanut butter and used sunflower seed butter instead. The gluten-free, nut-free result has been "a home run," Lurie says. "It became the pivot point of the company, and we've never looked back."
Sun Cups are available in four varieties (milk and dark chocolate as well as mint and caramel) and are made from Rainforest Alliance organic chocolate with compostable packaging. $1.99 for a two-pack retail or a four-cup sampler online.
Made by Seth Ellis Chocolatier LLC, Boulder, www.suncups.com. Also available at Whole Foods, Sunflower Market, Vitamin Cottage and Pharmaca locations in Colorado.
THE MUTT & THE MUSTANG
Judy Archibald's little dog Kody started riding Raven, a 26-year-old mustang with a bad back, in 2007, inspiring Archibald to write a children's book about the pair's inter-species bond that she published earlier this year.
"Raven's officially retired from giving rides to any humans," she says. "They do a daily ride unless there's a blizzard. I'm surprised he lets anyone on his back, but he loves that little dog."
Archibald, a longtime journalist with a focus on wildlife art, sold out her first run of 1,000 books and has since ordered another shipment. "It's been going really well," she says, crediting illustrator Patricia Greenberg (like Archibald, an Estes Park resident) for bringing Kody and Raven to life in pictorial form. "She really captured their personalities." $16.95 retail.
TOPO DESIGNS BAGS
Jedd Rose, Erik Gore and Mark Hansen decided to launch Topo Designs on the way back to the Front Range from a ski trip in 2008.
"We wanted a daily carry bag that wasn't leather with an old ski town feel but could still dress up for the workplace," Hansen says.
The result, the heavy-duty, made-in-Colorado, over-the-shoulder Mountain Bag, took off in Japan, leading to Topo Designs backpacks, which led in turn to more growth.
"In January, we got our first big order and have been trying to keep up ever since," Hansen says. "Our plan is to not just be a bag company - we've got a few designs in the works." $98 to $139 retail.
Made by Topo Designs LLC, Denver, www.topodesigns.com . Also available in numerous stores in Colorado; a retailer locator is on the website.