Thursday, September 20, 2012

0 An Interview with a Homemade Millionaire: Marcy McKenna

I often focus on images that inspire me and the projects I work on.  However, it is also important to be inspired by the individuals around us.  As someone who hopes to continue building a brand and career, it is such an honor to be able to interview and chat with those who already have!  And in a big way!

Marcy had the winning invention of Homemade Millionaire, The Style & Go!  Every single gal should have one of these genius organizers!

She created something that says goodbye to tangled cords, cluttered bathroom counters and unsightly hair care appliances haphazardly hung on walls or strewn across valuable bathroom counter space.  It is an aesthetically pleasing cabinet mounted on the bathroom wall to neatly house hair care appliances and products, all while consolidating several cords into one and eliminating the fire hazard so commonly seen when appliances are stored improperly.

Gorgeous right?

Cord and clutter free!  Love it!

I asked Marcy if I could interview her, since I was so impressed with her drive and story.  The darling friend said yes, so here we go!

Was The Style & Go your very first invention?

No, The Style & Go was not my first invention.  In fact, I had probably created ten others before The Style & Go was born.  My first real invention was created in 1998.  Having just moved into a new home and finding myself frustrated with how tedious and time consuming it was to hang multiple pictures on a single wall, I set out to find a "better way".  Within hours, I had developed my first invention, Help-U-Hang, a simple solution that would help me hang pictures even and efficiently.  As I explored the market, I found there to be many products that attempted to solve the same problem.  Consequently, I never commercialized Help-U-Hang, but it definitely gave me the bug for inventing.

How did you come up with the idea for The Style & Go, the winning product idea on the show?

The Style & Go was born out of sheer necessity!  My messy bathroom counter was probably the biggest marital issue between my husband and I.  He was so tired of the messy, tangled cords, the hair dryer tucked into the towel bar and the curling iron left in the sink to cool.  Combine that with the fact that my Mom was living with us and her bathroom doubled as the guest bathroom.  With a pedestal sink and no storage to speak of, she kept her appliances in a "Simple Green" bucket under the sink - the black cords wound up the wall until they plugged in at eye level.  As I began to ask around, I soon came to realize that this is a problem for almost everyone.  I knew there had to be a solution!

Tell me a little bit about the process of getting onto the show.  What were some of the milestones you endured that got you to the point of having the opportunity to present your incredible idea?

In July, 2009, I was up late one night doing an online invention search.  One link led to another and I happen to stumble upon Kelly Ripa's new television venture, Homemade Millionaire - the show that would allow a lucky winner to have their invention manufactured, marketed and sold on HSN.  I knew this was an opportunity of a lifetime.  I had always told myself that if I could ever get it off the ground, HSN was the perfect home for The Style & Go.  At this moment I knew that if I could get on the show and actually win, my product would be hugely successful on HSN.  Unfortunately, I quickly realized that I was too late in learning about the show.  The casting calls across America had been concluded and there were only four hours left until the application process would close.  because I knew this was too big of an opportunity to let pass me by, I tracked down Kelly's production company and I begged for one more day.  I promised them that I would put together a video tape and have it over-nighted in the mail.  Six months later I got the call that would forever change my life.

What are some of the features of the Style & Go that make it a winning invention?

Successful inventions are usually those that solve a problem for a side demographic.  The Style & Go solves a problem that woman all across the globe deal with on a daily basis.  We're all looking for ways to save space, save time and save money.  The Style & Go does all three and it also makes your bathroom a lot safer and a whole lot more organized.  What people are loving is the fact that it gets those bulky appliances and those messy tangled cords off our countertops and out from your overstuffed drawers and cabinets.  It stores them neatly in a wall mounted cabinet and the kicker is that because there's a built in power source you get to use your styling tools from the same place that you store them.  That's a huge time saver in that there's no longer a need to wait for appliances to cool off before putting them away.  Instead, just place them in their specially designed appliance holders, switch off a single button, close the cabinet door and you're off - leaving the bathroom neat and tidy in seconds.  And because The Style & Go powers down your appliances at the source, there's no longer a residual drain on electricity which means energy savings and cost savings on your electric bill.  My favorite part about The Style & Go is all the extra bathroom storage space it gives you.  When I put mine up for the first time, I immediately had two extra drawers in my bathroom.  Hallelujah!

How has your life changed since being on the show?

Though I like to think my life hasn't changed much, the fact is that I'm in the midst of launching an international brand - "Simply Solved by Marcy McKenna", and as a result I'm working full time in addition to being a mom of three young children.  In order to continue to do what I love most {be a mom} I sleep about half as much as I used to.  I'm doing what I love, so it doesn't feel like a sacrifice... and I know this is what it takes to get a company off the ground.

Doors have opened for me that I never thought possible, so I'm taking advantage of everything I can right now.  I'll have time to sleep later!  I'm happy to say that in many ways my life is the same.  My priorities haven't changed - the most important thing to me is and always will be my children and my husband.

As an aspiring business gal, you and your story are incredibly inspiring to me!  What advice do you have for other aspiring business owners and inventors?

I'm contacted all the time by aspiring inventors who have fantastic ideas for products but who have no idea where to begin.  I love hearing from inspired people because in my opinion, there's never been a better time to invent.  There are so many invaluable resources at our fingertips that make inventing easier than ever.  And the really good news is that it doesn't have to be so daunting from a financial perspective.  I recently wrote a blog that includes my inside tips and strategies for going from idea to the store shelf without spending a lot of money.  Would-be inventors have found it to be really helpful.  It is called "Inventing on a Budget... 6 Tips for Getting your Idea off the Ground without Breaking the Bank" and can be viewed online here.

What other types of organizing dilemmas have you solved with a little creativity?  Have you ever made other storage solutions?

I actually have seventeen more products in active development - many of which are focused on organized and storage solutions.  Just a couple weeks ago another of my inventions was selected as the winner of an "As Seen On TV" product search.  It is being developed now and will launch via infomercial very soon.  Without giving away too much, it's organizational product that will give you double the amount of space in your dresser drawers and closet shelves.  It will also make packing suitcases much more efficient - which thankfully willy save you money on those rising airline baggage fees.  

My first product to hit the market was The Cambia Collection - a three-in-one designer quality interchange handbag that allows women to stay on the forefront of fashion at a tiny fraction of the cost. I created it during the taping of Homemade Millionaire because I could only bring one suitcase but needed to pack eight different outfits for the show.  I only had room for one purse in my suitcase and it never quite seemed to match the outfit I was wearing.  With the Cambia Collection, the interchangeable purse flaps stack flat for storage so I was able to pack six different purse looks and they took up the space of only one.  You can learn more here.

One of my favorite new inventions is an organizational beauty related product that I'm developing for HSN.  I'm hoping for a Spring 2013 product launch date... stay tuned.

Do you have any other products in the works that we can look forward to purchasing in the future?

I'm developing an entire line of products under my brand of "Simply Solved by Marcy McKenna".  The products essentially offer simple solutions to everyday problems.  In addition to the seventeen products I'm currently developing, I've also been lucky enough to partner with a couple of other inventors who have created amazing products that also offer simple solutions to everyday problems.  I'm looking forward to bringing them to life on HSN in the near future.  

I read that you are from a family of inventors.  Any signs that your children will follow in your footsteps?

Absolutely!  My ten year old son, Jack, was six when he created the first prototype for The Style & Go - he made it out of Legos!  My six year old daughter, Courtney, is a born inventor.  She is always coming up with inventions to solve her own problems.  Just last week she created an organizational solution for her many hair bands.  It's genius!  Sometimes at the dinner table, I'll offer family invention challenges.  For instance, my middle child was born with Special Needs and at age eight was unable to tie his own shoes.  The family challenge led to an invention that taught him to tie his shoes within thirty minutes.  We've since submitted the idea to a major international toy company who is currently evaluating it for commercialization.

You are so lovely so I have to know, what is the one beauty supply/product {other than the Style & Go of course}, that you just can't live without?

There are so many!  I'm obsessed with beauty products!  I've created a list of my favorite "Beauty Must Haves" that you can see on my website.

So many thanks to Marcy for taking the time to stop by and answer my questions!  You can keep up with her and all she has going on, at her website here.

Any other inventors out there?  Or inventions in the works?  What is one dilemma that you wish a storage solution was created for?

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