Date: June 9, 2010
Media Contact: Wendy Harris Magas
Peeps Eyewear Named a Winner in Governor's Business Plan Contest
Peeps Eyewear, a Madison-based company with strong ties to the Fox Cities, took first place in the business services category in the 2010 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.
Kristin Benson Ellsworth, who dreamed up, founded and developed Peeps Eyewear, designs and markets quality children's optical frames for preschool-age children who GET to wear glasses. Ellsworth was among 12 contest finalists selected from 284 entrants who showcased their business plans to the judges at the 2010 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference held June 8-9 in Milwaukee.
The judges named four category winners, in addition to a grand prize winner. Peeps Eyewear was named the winner of the business services category which had 97 entrants. Her first-place win includes a $10,000 prize.
“I’ve been working to build this company for the past three years and winning in my category feels amazing," Ellsworth said. “I am incredibly grateful to my wonderful team that has supported me throughout this process and to the contest judges for believing in my business plan and vision for Peeps Eyewear.”
Kathi Seifert, who serves on the Peeps Eyewear Advisory Board, said she is thrilled for Ellsworth.
“Kristin started out with an amazing idea and followed through with all the hard work, perseverance and persistence that it takes to launch a business,” said Seifert, retired executive vice president for Kimberly Clark Corp. “We are so proud of Kristin and proud to be on her team.”
Ellsworth, of Madison, came up with her business idea after her youngest daughter, Annie, refused to wear her new prescription glasses at age 3.
“After putting on her favorite costume and looking in the mirror, Annie said ‘princesses don’t wear glasses,’” Ellsworth recalled. “And then Annie threw them on the ground.”
Ellsworth soon realized she wasn’t alone and that there were countless parents across the country who also struggled to get their young children to wear their glasses. Peeps Eyewear is on a mission to change the way kids wear glasses, Ellsworth said.
“Kids are going to love our glasses and are not going to want to take them off,” Ellsworth said.
Peeps Eyewear’s inaugural line of glasses will launch in August.
Ellsworth, who lived in Neenah before moving to Madison last year, is a graduate of The Venture Center E-Seed program at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton. During the entrepreneur training program, Ellsworth completed her business plan. She then used FVTC’s FAB LAB (fabrication laboratory) to design her first sets of optical frames.
“We are so excited for Kristin and she is so deserving of her success,” said Amy Pietsch, director of the FVTC Venture Center. “Kristin is a great example of someone who had an idea, reached out and accessed the resources around her, and has brought a product into the marketplace.”
Ellsworth, who has a bachelor’s degree in business management and a juris doctorate, plans to use the prize money toward product costs and business development.
Ellsworth can be reached at email@example.com