A flood of new customers from a flash-sale website saved children's clothing company Jelly the Pug from going under.

In 2011, four years after it was founded, the company's clothes were in only a few boutiques and online sales were minimal, says Chief Operating Officer Adnan K. Mehmood.

It was running low on cash. And with the clock ticking on a payment due to a supplier--Mehmood's father--Jelly the Pug needed a way to sell more clothing, fast.

"I told my dad that if I didn't pay him back by my birthday that year, March 25th, I would move back to Pakistan, he can pull the plug on Jelly the Pug and he can marry me to whomever he wants," says Mehmood.

Then Mehmood's perseverance at a children's clothing trade show won Jelly the Pug a lifeline. He emailed a brochure and an invitation to visit Jelly the Pug's booth to all the registered buyers at the event. Zulily, a website that offers products for a limited time at discounted prices, was interested. It ordered 7,000 dresses.

Jelly the Pug LLC debuted on Zulily on March 7, 2011, and sold out in 72 hours. Coupled with a $10,000 purchase order from flash-sale website Kid Steals, also a connection from the trade show, that allowed Jelly the Pug to make a payment to Mehmood's father and keep the business afloat.

Mehmood says that Zulily has been 80 percent of Jelly the Pug's business. The company sells its products on Zulily once a month--sometimes as many as 25,000 items.

Jelly the Pug, which is in San Francisco, has grown from four employees in its early days to more than 300 workers. Revenue has climbed from $110,000 in 2011 to an estimated $4.5 million for 2014.

--Associated Press