Records relating to Small Beginnings, Inc., a medical supply company that designs, invents, manufactures, and distributes products for premature infants. The records include contacts with distributors, correspondence, product advertisements, patent and trademark files, photographs, a scrapbook, and oral history interviews with Kenneth S. Croteau, Mary S. "Sharon" Rogone, and Philip N. Rogone.
Scope and Contents:
Series 1, Background Information, 1983-2006, is divided into nine subseries and includes articles of incorporation for the business, correspondence, corporate identity branding, and journal articles and magazine and newspaper clippings about Small Beginnings, Inc. The correspondence consists of thank you letters from hospitals and medical centers for visits made by Small Beginnings staff during the holiday season and a September 2001 letter from Kenny Loggins discussing his partnership with Small Beginnings to distribute his CD "More Songs from Pooh Corner." The Entrepreneur packet was created by Kenneth Croteau of Caring Creations, Inc., to assist potential inventors/entrepreneurs in developing ideas into a patented product and bringing it to the marketplace.
Series 2, Oral History Interviews and Logs, 18 January 2007, is divided into two subseries. Subseries 1 contains reference CD-ROM copies for listening and Subseries 2 consists of master CD-ROMs. The interviews were created digitally using a Marantz PMD 660 recorder. The oral history interviews were conducted by National Museum of American History staff members Maggie Dennis and Judy Chelnick. The interviewees include Kenneth S. Croteau, Mary S. "Sharon" Rogone, and Philip N. Rogone, founders of and business partners in Small Beginnings, Inc. Each interview has a time code log. Full text transcripts do not exist.
Series 3, Product Information, 1994-2006, is divided into four subseries.
Subseries 1, Small Beginnings, Inc. Products, 1998-2004, contains documentation on the products made available by Small Beginnings, Inc. The company offers a wide variety of products for neonatal intensive care units and newborn nurseries. This subseries is arranged alphabetically by product name. The bulk of the documentation consists of printed product literature that was disseminated to distributors and/or at conferences. In some instances, such as the Bili-Bonnet, Climate Cover, and Pacee Pacifier—correspondence, testing information, and sketches exist.
Subseries 2, Disclosure Statements, 2000-2003, contains waivers and agreements between Small Beginnings, Inc., and individuals which state that an idea or ideas will not be used or revealed to others.
Subseries 3, Competitors, 1994-2004, includes files on competitors in the neonatal medical supply business. The documentation is primarily product literature and company overviews. The subseries are arranged alphabetically by company name.
Subseries 4, Miscellaneous, 1999, 2001, undated, contains printed paper examples of the fabric Small Beginnings used on its products and a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) booklet designed for parents of preemie infants. The booklet provides a checklist of tasks for parents to be conscious of when caring for their premature infant.
Series 4, Sales Records, 1993-2006
Subseries 1, Catalogs, 2001-2005, contains catalogs in hard copy and on CD-ROM for distributors and other interested parties.
Subseries 2, Price lists, 2000, 2003, undated, includes itemized pricing lists for all Small Beginnings products and special pricing lists designed for hospital admission kits. There is also a pricing list with similar competitor products and the savings gained by using Small Beginnings products.
Subseries 3, Distributor Information, 1993-2006, consists of documentation on distributors around the United States who are distributing or considering distributing Small Beginnings, Inc., products. Arranged alphabetically by the name of the distributor, this subseries consists primarily of contracts—the independent distributor contract—between Small Beginnings, Inc., and the distributor.
The contract details the sales representatives appointment, terms, permitted sales, distributor sales and service obligation, supplier organizations, prices, orders, payment, shipment, trademark protection, no competitive products, proprietary rights protection, warranty, disclaimer, and warrant service, limitations or remedies and liability, termination, taxes, duties, import permits, approvals, and general provisions. In some instances, there is correspondence with a distributor and sales report information detailing the product type, cost and to which hospital it was sold.
The Advanced Medical Systems file also contains vendor sales information. This report details what Small Beginnings product(s) were sold, to whom, when, how many, the price, and any shipping details.
The HealthTrust file documents a "purchasing group." A purchasing group negotiates with suppliers to provide member facilities with high quality supplies, equipment, and other services at competitive prices through national, regional and local supply agreements. Small Beginnings did not enter into a formal agreement with HealthTrust but explored the idea of becoming a prospective vendor.
Subseries 4, Licenses and Agreements, 1998-2005, includes license and compensation agreements with five individuals (Eileen Clayton, Linda Cook, Diane D'Eugenio, Ilija Kainovic, and Kathleen Porter) for a variety of products. The agreements cover the definitions, license grants, royalties and payments; term and termination; best effort; breach and cure; patent, applications, prosecution and ownership; new inventions; infringement; representations by the licensee; force majeure; and other rights and conditions.
There are also letters of agreement for purchase and compensation documents. These agreements between Small Beginnings, Inc., and said party states what the product/idea is, how much it will cost, if the product/idea will be commercially produced and marketed, and if the product/idea can be altered. There is one agreement among the officers of Small Beginnings, Inc., dated 1999 which states that any and all future intellectual property(s) and/or product(s) and/or idea(s) shall be the property of the individual and not Small Beginnings, Inc.
Subseries 5, Finances, 2000-2003, contains sales summary data, expense allocations, invoices, and cost analyses. The sales summary provides an itemized breakdown of Small Beginnings's inventory for the period January 1, 2000 to July 10, 2000. The expense allocation spreadsheet of January 2000 to July 2000 provides a detailed breakdown of salary payments, office equipment, goods sold, and other line items such as printing, attorney's fees, and shipping supplies. Also provided is the total actual expenses, total income, difference, and starting and ending balance information. The invoice reports provide information about the customer, the invoice number, date due (0-30 days, 31-60 days or 61-90 days or over 90 days), amount due, purchase order number and the date paid. The projected cash flow from January 2000 to May 2000 details the amount of cash taken in and cash spent. The cost analyses provide a breakdown by list price, materials, manufacturing, labor costs, and packaging for six products: Bili-Bonnet, Climate Cover, Iso-sphere Covers, Baby-Crates, Security Baby Wrap, and Baby Blotters, Preemie Swaddler, Preemie Gown, Privacy Poncho, Bed Buddie, Posture Pillow, Preemie Nest, Bebeonkers and Pacee Pacifier.
Subseries 6, Neonatal Conference Programs, 1998-2002, consists primarily of conference programs and, in some instances, only the program cover.
Subseries 7, American Hospital Association Guide (partial), 1998, contains a partial print out of hospitals located in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio.
Series 5, Patent and Trademark Files, 1991-2002, contains copies of patent and trademark information relating to Small Beginnings, Inc., products. The trademark file includes documentation with the law firm of Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP and the United States Patent and Trademark office for Small Beginnings, Peeweeonkers, Bebeonkers, Nasalonkers (all infant nasal suction devices), and Doctor Nurse Apparel, (DNA) trademark logos. The patent files contain correspondence, drawings and narrative text for Bebeonkers, Bili-Bonnet, Climate Cover, Pacee Pacifier, Positioning Device, Preemie Nest, and Privacy Poncho.
Series 6, Photographs and Scrapbook, 1987-2007
Subseries 1, Photographs, 2000-2001, are arranged by topic and include color and color photocopies documenting some of Small Beginnings products, a 2001 Christmas party, a 2000 neonatal conference, and office and factory images.
Subseries 2, Digital images, 2007, consists of office, factory and employee images taken by National Museum of American History staff members Judy Chelnick, Maggie Dennis, and Alison Oswald.
Subseries 3, Scrapbook, 1987-2000, consists of nineteen pages featuring photographs of employees, products and the factory, as well as printed product information.
The collection is organized into six series.
Series 1, Background Information, 1983-2006
Subseries 1, Articles of Incorporation, 1997-2005
Subseries 2, Small business certification, 2006
Subseries 3, Women's Business Enterprise Council, 2004-2006
Subseries 4, Corporate Identity, undated
Subseries 5, Correspondence, 2001-2003
Subseries 6, Entrepreneur packet, undated
Subseries 7, Articles (Perinatalogy/Neonatology), 1990-2002
Subseries 8, Magazine and newspaper clippings, 1983-2003
Subseries 9, Miscellaneous, 1988-2001
Series 2, Oral History Interviews and Logs, 18 January 2007
Subseries 1, Reference copies of interviews, 2007
Subseries 2, Original interviews, 2007
Series 3, Product Information, 1994-2004
Subseries 1, Small Beginnings, Inc. Products, 1998-2004
Subseries 2, Disclosure Statements, 1999-2003
Subseries 3, Competitors, 1994-2004
Subseries 4, Miscellaneous, 1999, 2001, undated
Series 4, Financial/Accounting Records, 1967-1971
Subseries 1, Catalogs, 2001-2005
Subseries 2, Price lists, 2000, 2003, undated
Subseries 3, Distributor Information, 1993-2006
Subseries 4, Licenses and Agreements, 1998-2005
Subseries 5, Finances, 2000-2002
Subseries 6, Neonatal Conference Programs, 1998-2002
Subseries 7, American Hospital Association Guide (partial), 1998
Series 5, Patent and Trademark Files, 1991-2002
Series 6, Photographs and Scrapbook, 1987-2007
Subseries 1, Photographs, 2000-2001
Subseries 2, Digital images, 2007
Subseries 3, Scrapbook, 1987-2000
Biographical / Historical:
Small Beginnings, Inc., of Hesperia, California, was founded by Mary S. Rogone and her business partner, Austin J. Webber, II in the late 1990s. It officially incorporated on November 21, 1997, in the State of Nevada. The company specializes in products conceived and developed by healthcare professionals, specifically nurses who work with premature infants. The name "small beginnings" originated from the small amount of money used to start the company and for the tender age of the patients it serves. The company motto is "Clinicians on a Mission" with the entire company dedicated to making better, more innovative products for premature infants.
Mary Sharon Shoffstall was born August 8, 1942 and raised in the San Bernardino Hills of California. She attended Huntington Park High School where she concentrated on math and science and graduated in 1960. She earned degrees as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in 1976 and as a registered nurse (RN) in 1980 from San Bernardino Valley College. Rogone worked a variety of nursing jobs—labor and delivery and surgical—but found her niche in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
In the late 1980s, Rogone was motivated by her work in the neonatal intensive care units at St. Bernardine's Hospital (now St. Bernardine Medical Center) and San Bernardino County Hospital in California to create a better phototherapy mask for premature infants suffering from bilirubin. "Bilirubin is a brownish yellow substance found in bile. It is produced when the liver breaks down old red blood cells. The most obvious symptom of high bilirubin levels is jaundice, a condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes appear yellow. Therefore, some babies who develop jaundice may be treated with special lights (phototherapy) or a blood transfusion to reduce their bilirubin levels."
Rogone's phototherapy mask was fashioned out of a variety of hospital materials and was designed to take the pressure off the ocular socket, transfer it to the cheekbone and reduce the ability of light to penetrate the mask. With no objections from fellow nurses or doctors, Rogone developed the Bili-Bonnet Phototherapy Mask and began using it on infants in the NICU. Encouraged by Austin Webber, a medical sales representative she met at the hospital, Rogone formed a financial partnership with Webber. Both Rogone and Webber contributed $1,500.00 to start the business. Webber provided knowledge about materials, manufacturing processes, and distribution while Rogone supplied the ideas and medical background. Rogone began the patent process for the mask in 1992 and was granted US Patent # 5,613,502 for a "Photo therapy eye mask" in 1997. This invention launched Rogone's inventive career and her company, Small Beginnings, Inc.
In 1995, Sharon married Phil Rogone, a respiratory therapist and physician's assistant she met while working at St. Bernardine's Hospital. Phil soon joined the company as Vice President for Marketing and began attending tradeshows to promote the company's growing line of products. In 1998, Ken Croteau, a respiratory specialist and close friend of Phil and Sharon's, joined the staff of Small Beginnings, Inc., as the business manager. Croteau established the company's website, www.small-beginnings.com, and began to recruit distributors. Croteau, along with Sharon Rogone, Philip Rogone, Winnifred Croteau, and Ted Lopez founded Caring Creations, Inc., a separate corporation on May 1, 2002. Caring Creations, Inc., is a vehicle intended to launch Small Beginnings products into the retail market. By 2000, Sharon Rogone left full-time nursing to focus on the company as Chief Executive Officer.
As the company grew, more products were developed. The company now offers: Bebeonkers (oral suction device), Lil' and Nu' Pacee Pacifiers, Cuddle Buns™ Diapers; Preemie Nest (swaddler and positioning device); Bed Buddy (positioning device); Baby Blotters (absorbent, moisture proof plastic blotters); Abdominal Pillow; Head Pillow; Wedge Pillow; Preemie Gown; Arm immobilier; Baby Crates™ (allows moisture to flow through and away from the baby), Baby Blankee™; Isosphere™ covers (for NICU warmers); Universal Climate Cover II, and the Privacy Poncho.
Not all products are developed and patented by Small Beginnings, Inc. The company inspires and assists budding inventors, especially nurses and other healthcare professionals to realize their dreams. The Pacee Pacifier sold by Small Beginnings (US Patent # 4,909,253) was invented by Linda L. Cook from Infrapreem, Inc., of Connecticut. Cook licensed her invention to Small Beginnings in 1999 so they could commercially develop, produce and market the pacifier as the Lil' and Nu' Pacee Pacifier. In a 1998 letter Cook wrote to Rogone, "It is so good to know there are people like you in the world that are out there to help nurses. Thank you." Other products, such as the Cuddle Buns™ Diapers, are not patented, but the name is trademarked.
Materials at the National Museum of American History
The Division of Medicine and Science holds artifacts related to this collection. See Accession # 2007.0022:
Bili-Bonnet mold with masking tape
Bili-Bonnet mold with foam inserts
Pacifier choking test stand (includes barbell and pacifier)
Pac black foam disk
Diapers from Children's Medical Ventures
Diaper, prototype 1 from Mexico, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Diaper, prototype 2 from Mexico, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Diaper, prototype 3 from Mexico, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Diaper, prototype 4 from Mexico, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Diaper, prototype 5, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Diaper, final version production model
Diaper, ultra preemie production model, 2003
Diaper, Pampers Preemie Swaddler from Procter & Gamble
Oral suction device, Bebeonkers
Pacifier, Original Pacee with product literature, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Pacifier, second generation with packaging, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Pacifier, Competitor's "Soothie" Children's Medical Ventures
Pacifier "Lil' Pacee," Small Beginnings, Inc.
Phototherapy mask, competitors, Children's Medical Ventures
Phototherapy mask, Bili-Bonnet #1, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Phototherapy mask, Bili-Bonnet #2, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Phototherapy mask, Bili-Bonnet #3, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Packaging, new Bili-Bonnet, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Packaging, old Bili-Bonnet, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Phototherapy mask, original preemie Bili-Bonnet, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Posture pillow sets for preemies, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Bed Buddy 36" for ultra preemies, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Preemie nest set, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Bendy Bumpy, Children's Medical Ventures
Bulb syringe "Adult Yankauer," taken from NICU
Suction tube with collecting bottle, Delee taken from NICU (for use after c-section)
Bulb and syringe, taken from NICU
Catheter, size 6 cut, for suction, taken from NICU
Catheter for oral and nasal use (by Ballard)
Pen, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Phototherapy mask, original ultra preemie, cat #OIC 38, Small Beginnings, Inc.
Pacifier, 'Nu' Pacee" in packaging, Small Beginnings, Inc.
The collection was donated by Small Beginnings, Inc., through Mary S. Rogone, Philip N. Rogone, Austin J. Webber II, Kenneth S. Croteau and Winnifred D. Croteau, February 2007.
The collection is open for research use.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.