Kerry Cooke Spleash

Kerry Cooke and her daughter are dog lovers. They’ve both found comfort and solace in dogs through their individual journey’s to deal with trauma, and adore going for long strolls with their pups. But they found carrying around water and a bowl to keep their canines hydrated burdensome. Carlsbad, California-based Cooke, who had always dreamed of being an entrepreneur, suddenly had her lightbulb moment – and thus SPLEASH was born. Her invention is a handle that attaches to a leash and holds 12 ounces of water along with a mini bowl, so any leash is immediately converted into a dog-friendly hydrating station. Today Cooke and her daughter are relishing running this new venture together, and are giving a portion of the proceeds to organizations that support domestic violence survivors.

Cooke’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:

A couple years ago, my daughter and I were walking our dogs, and I realized what a process it was to bring all the gear (leash, water bowl, water). It was cumbersome! I thought, “There has to be a simpler way to do this!” I searched online for a product that would meet our needs, and when I didn’t find one, I decided to create it myself. Spleash is a handle that attaches to any standard leash and holds 12oz of water. Initially, I ran this idea by my daughter and with her support we were able to bring Spleash to life.

For more than 20 years I’ve dreamed of being an entrepreneur, and I’ve had ideas for inventions or services that could be helpful to others, but I never really ran with one of them. Spleash is the realization of a longtime dream, and I’m thrilled that I get to share the entrepreneurial experience with my daughter!

For me, success is defined by the number of lives that you touch and people that you bring joy to. I was blown away at first by the overwhelmingly positive reaction people had to my product when I spoke with them about it. This quickly made me realize that I could make people’s lives easier and happier with my product. Of course, I would also love it if Spleash was able to grow and become more than just a single product but a brand full of my other pet related ideas. 

[Related: How a NYC Business Owner (and Dog Lover) Is Coping]

As a trauma survivor, I have found healing and hope through dogs and other service animals. Creating a product that can help both dogs and dog owners has been a way for me to give back to a community that has given so much to me. In addition, we’ll be donating a portion of the proceeds from Spleash sales to various organizations that work with domestic violence survivors. If I’m able to provide a simple solution and help those in need, that’s success. 

Recently we decided to market Spleash on TikTok. I was hesitant at first because TikTok is a platform I had never used before and I wasn’t sure if it would have the demographic we target. However, I was quickly proven wrong. In the beginning we only got a few hundred views on each video, which was still more than the views we got on any other platform. But then one day we posted a video explaining the main features of Spleash set to Miki Matsubara’s Mayonaka no Door, and within two days we had over three hundred thousand views. We were blown away, and like every other TikTok creator we began seeking the next big success. And boy did we find it. A little over a week after our first big hit we posted a video showing my nephew using Spleash attached to a rope leash to pull a ~3,900lb Toyota Tacoma, proving once and for all that Spleash wouldn’t break under pressure. That video now has 1.5 million views and counting!

As it stands, our foremost issue that we’ve been struggling with since launching our company has been Covid-19. The global pandemic has affected everyone across the board one way or another and in most cases, it means that the expendable income most people had has now been reduced. Which means that the number of people who can make non-essential purchases has dwindled. The pandemic has also affected our manufacturing process, creating delays that meant we couldn’t launch when we wanted to. But now we’ve launched our product and sales are on the up and up, so hopefully soon everything else will follow.

A personal situation that has affected the way I run my business occured about 11 years ago. My ex-husband left our daughter alone at his house and went out with his on again off again fiancé. He murdered her that night and picked our daughter up and brought her back home telling her goodbye and not to believe what people might say about him. He was convicted of 1st-degree murder and is now serving his sentence in Northern California. Our reliance on dogs through this difficult time is hard to quantify. I need them to help me feel safe at home. My daughter also has had a major reliance on dogs and used a support dog in court to wait with her to testify. My daughter was 11 at the time, we would go on walks with our 3 dogs each day and makeup adventures (with key lessons) about our dogs. We called it the adventures of Big- Little- Big (2 big dogs and 1 little one). These adventures helped us process what was happening. I want to use my product to help dogs in their adventures out and about, keep them safe and hydrated. Because I came out of this experience alive, I want to pay respect and keep the memory alive of the woman he killed.

[Related: How to Seriously Make a Difference Through Your Work]

My most important role model is my mother, without question! I was the youngest of five children, which meant that our house was in a state of perpetual commotion. In any other household this would have spelled pandemonium, but not on my mother’s watch! She had the ability to command a gaggle of children like they were an elite squadron! Maybe it was a skill she already had, or perhaps it came from being married to a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corp, either way she was a woman to be respected. I mean, it isn’t easy to rebuild your entire home life every three years when your husband gets reassigned! You know the old ideal about mothers that arose in the fifties? How they were supposed to be smart, thoughtful, funny, kind, stern, a homemaker, and well dressed? Well, my mother was all of those and more, and if she had been born today, she probably would have become the CEO of some fortune 500 company. She was a licensed nurse, a skilled gardener, an amazing chef, a perfect hostess, and most of all, the best mother a girl could ever ask for. She was funny and loving and is missed beyond all measure. Although she never got to see my product or even hear about the idea, I know she would have been so proud of me and I carry that with me every day. 

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