Suamico 'Elderpreneur' starts new business at 85

Posted at 1:21 PM, Mar 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-19 14:21:06-04
 SUAMICO, Wis. (AP) -- To many, Alice Baryenbruch is known as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
   The 85-year-old native of Manitowoc County has four children, 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandkids.
   She recently inherited a new title: "elderpreneur," a unique name bestowed by her daughter, Barb Luhring.
   After decades of being a housewife, Baryenbruch (pronounced Bear-in-brook) is part of the business world. She and Luhring created  Sniffles Pals facial tissue, which is being sold throughout Wisconsin and online.
   Featuring an animal theme in a three-dimensional design on the outside of the box, the locally produced novelty is catching on with its target audience -- those with young kids.
   "They love them," Baryenbruch said of the product's draw to the children and others in her extended family.
   A runny nose is never fun for anyone. Baryenbruch was reminded a few years ago of her many years of trying to get her children to take the initiative to properly wipe their noses when she went in for a medical checkup and saw kids in the waiting room.
   "I see all of these other fancy boxes (for tissue)... and I thought it would be kind of nice if they had something," said Baryenbruch, who lives in Suamico. "I thought, of course, the animals," as a lure for the kids.
   After a little more than two years, her idea for the colorful tissue boxes came to fruition last fall.
   Luhring, 58, a Sister Bay resident with experience in printing and web design, created the artwork for the three wraparound designs on the square boxes. Customers can choose between a fox, an owl or a frog.
   The tissues are manufactured by Precision Paper Converters in Kaukauna, a contract manufacturer that specializes in facial tissue and dry wipes. Jeff Anderson, Baryenbruch's son-in-law, is the president of the company.
   The pre-designed flat boxes are made in Sheboybgan by Sheboygan Paper Box Co.
   "Everything is Wisconsin made. It's not just American made," Luhring said. "It could use another flag on there, the state flag, but there's no room."
   Baryenbruch's and Luhring's names are on the bottom of the box, along with the stamps of a small American flag and the Precision Paper Converters logo.
   "It's kind of unbelievable. My name is on there!" said Baryenbruch, who gets a kick out of seeing the Sniffles Pals boxes on the shelf every time she goes shopping at her nearby Festival Foods store.
   Festival Foods has been selling the product at its 21 Wisconsin locations since December.
   Sniffles Pals also is available at two spots in Door County: Main Street Market in Egg Harbor and Birchwood Lodge in Sister Bay. The tissues also are available online at
   A 75-count box costs about $1.30.
   Anderson said sales of the first several hundred cases of Sniffle Pals are encouraging.
   "We're pretty early in the process, but sales are off to a good start," Anderson said.
   The Sniffle Pals website includes a blog, downloadable coloring pages in English and Spanish and examples of how customers are reusing their empty boxes.
   "The kids kind of don't want to get rid of them right away," Luhring said. "It's kind of a fun thing to have on hand, to give to kids."
   Kids as well as adults are prone to do a double-take when they see another unique aspect of the product. The box opens on the back side.
   "It was Jeff's idea to make the tissues come out of the rear end (of the character)," Baryenbruch said with a straight face.
   Since the boxes for the fox and the owl have ears that stand on top, the tissue opening was moved to the odd spot to balance the weight of the box, Luhring said.
   More Sniffles Pals characters are being hatched by the creative mother-daughter duo.
   "We want to do another batch of 'em," Luhring said.