By Diane Mastrull
The Philadelphia Inquirer.
UPPER DUBLIN, Pa.
I introduce you to its first product: Survivin’ the Doghouse, a kit to help spouses survive that inevitable indignity of coupledom, being banished to the couch.
It should come as no surprise that the company, based in this Philadelphia suburb, is owned by two formerly married men inspired, well, by life experience.
Landing Earl McCall in the doghouse was coming home from social engagements smelling of perfume. (He’s a platonic hugger, he insists, and now divorced.) As for Noel Wilkins: “I used to leave the toilet seat up. My wife fell in a couple of times at night.”
Now, these less-than-Prince Charmings want to help others get through those nights when the master bedroom is off-limits.
“I’ve always been one to believe in good relationships,” said McCall, 48. “Survivin’ the Doghouse is not just about poking fun, it’s literally about bringing a good relationship to the surface. Teaching guys how to be more respectful to their women, to bring chivalry back.”
The kit, available for $34.95 at www.Survivinthedoghouse.com and www.KrazyVibes.com, includes 14 items. Among them: knee pads (“When men are on their knees begging for forgiveness, it helps keep your knees intact”); edible wax lips (“That’s to sweeten your kisses if you try to kiss your way out of the doghouse”); and a stress-reliever ball (“To maintain a smiling and grinning composure during those cold-shoulder moments.”)
There’s also a 61-page survival guide that outlines 30 doghouse scenarios McCall and Wilkins compiled. They hired Colorado freelance writer Leora Wambach to provide the female perspective. Rather than including only comedic answers, Wambach, 29 and married less than two years, convinced McCall and Wilkins that the book should also offer “a real way for you to get out of trouble.”
“Everybody miscommunicates all the time,” Wambach said in an interview. “It’s what we do.”
Forgetting an important occasion is among the situations covered in the book. “Get a calendar,” it advises. “You don’t even have to pay for it. There are dozens of free calendars online.”
By day, McCall and Wilkins, 59, work in information technology for Quest Diagnostics, where they got an idea for “a husband’s couch-survival kit” when a colleague announced he was getting married. Internet research turned up nothing similar on the market, McCall said. But Wilkins’ wife, Elizabeth, scoffed at the reference.
“She said, ‘You knucklehead, couch survival means in the doghouse.'” Wilkins said. “I credit her for that.”
Wilkins and McCall incorporated KrazyVibes in 2014, envisioning a parent company that would offer a range of products. The marketing of the company’s first product, Survivin’ the Doghouse, was slowed because of Elizabeth Wilkins’ death from lung cancer in July 2013.
The items in the survival kit come from China, with kits assembled at and shipped from Wilkins’ home/company headquarters.
KrazyVibes is projecting first-year sales of nearly 5,000 kits (200 so far), and 18,000 books (60 to date), on sale for $9.98 (in addition to being included in the kits) at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Total first-year projected revenue is $210,000; $420,000, the second year; and $1.14 million the third, with profit margins of 60 percent to 64 percent.
Wilkins and McCall’s goal is to get the kit in Target and Wal-Mart, as well as gift shops, and eventually offer variations on the original theme. After all, a person can be in the doghouse at work, or with a friend or parent.
A board game is expected by year’s end, followed by an advice magazine.
“We want to own the concept doghouse,” McCall said.
Just not be in it.