By Lisa Shell
About one year ago, Chelsea Frank was working full-time, developing prosthetic braces. Now, the founder of Life and Limb Gel, has returned to Ocean Shores with her young family and transformed a small room in the back of her house to a sewing workshop.
Sitting at the sewing table, Chelsea is surrounded by stacked labeled crates of nylon, gel, velcro and high quality fabrics. Her sewing machine runs tirelessly, guided either by her hands or one of her two employees, Sara and Megan. In this space, Chelsea had the idea to start her own business – Life and Limb Gel – a family owned and operated company that creates and sells a revolutionary state of the art, handcrafted gel pack.
Chelsea used her background in the medical field to create a unique gel pack. The inside material is made from waterproof casing. The material has a four-way stretch so it keeps the material dry on your skin. Throw it in the freezer and it won’t turn into an ice cube. It’s infinitely adjustable and simple to place on your body. Put the pack in the freezer or in the microwave then place inside the case. Then, just wrap it around yourself and go.
Gel packs fit comfortably on your knee, ankle, back, neck, arm or hip and are versatile enough to be used hot or cold. “The gel packs can help to make you whole again, and pain-free,” says Chelsea regarding her focus on helping others feel better. “They are great for a clinical setting.”
When Chelsea left her full-time job, she thought hard about what to do for work upon returning to Grays Harbor. She admits, “I desired to stay at home more with my family. I wasn’t really finding a way to work part time in the orthotics and prosthetic industry.”
Setting up a small shop, just down the hall from the kitchen, Chelsea began designing and sewing gel packs. Anytime she wants to stop and focus on her family, maybe make breakfast or lunch, she does. It gives her great comfort to be able to snuggle her children anytime they need her.
Chelsea is quite surprised by the company’s quick success. She added two employees, who both happen to also be young mothers. The team works either in Chelsea’s home or in their own home, depending on the project.
After sewing her first few projects and selling them online, Chelsea found out about the Taala Fund, designed for Quinault Indian Nation business owners. This fund offers support services designed to assist and help improve credit scores, start a business, and build assets. The Taala Fund awarded her a loan, enabling Chelsea to keep her family first.
The Taala Fund offers classes for growing businesses. Chelsea smiled remembering back and confessed, “I thought business classes were the most boring classes in school, but this is doing something I am passionate about and just the idea of making my own choices is rewarding.”
With no prior experience applying for business loan, she was offered individual counseling that led her to participate in a matched savings account, called Individual Development Accounts, a benefit of the Taala Fund. Life and Limb Gel saved $50 a month for one year. Then her savings was matched times six. This allowed Chelsea to purchase inventory and update equipment.
Looking into 2015, Life and Limb Gel is ready to continue to ramp up production. Last year, Life and Limb Gel’s sales doubled and the goal is to double sales again 2015.
To find Life and Limb Gel Packs locally, visit North Beach Chiropractic, owned by her father. You can also find her products through Life and Limb Gel’s online store. About 90% of Chelsea’s sales originate from Amazon where you can also purchase her gel packs.