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Category: Maker Spotlight

  • Meet the Maker: Milissa Nelson of Spot Stuff

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    We're catching up with Milissa Nelson, the Maker behind a natural oil & grease stain remover  we recently launched on The Grommet. Milissa's Spot Stuff is eco-friendly, Made in the USA, and gets rid of stubborn, tough-to-clean stains—even ones that have set. Hear more about the inspiration behind this product and Milissa's journey as an entrepreneur.

    Meet the Maker of Spot Stuff

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    I was always fascinated with travel, I loved everything about it. I grew up in a family business and always wanted to own my own someday, so when I finally had the chance, I combined the two. I had worked for years as an IT consultant for the aviation industry, and as a million-miler when it comes to travel, I always had a limited wardrobe and tight schedule when spills hit. I was fed up with the bad results I had from the wet instant spot removal products on the market, I thought there had to be a better answer, so I started my research over a decade ago to create something better! I wanted a DRY product to remove fat, oil, and grease stains, which were my most common stain type.

    What personality traits have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    I'm a daily list maker of the tasks for each day, with constant update to of course to ensure things don't get missed. I try to plan out in advance as much as possible, laying out timelines of where we need to be with everything.  I think one of my most important traits is I don't put things off if I can help it. My moto has always been "Do it now." Also, I love being an early riser  (it's a huge benefit) because I find I can get so much more done in the early mornings before everyone is even out of bed. My mother started our family business which grew so fast my father had to leave his job and come in too. They never had a sales team after their first couple of accounts, everyone came to them. They had clients like Radisson, Burger King, and Perkins to name a few. I was always inspired by my parents and their drive, they never gave up and always found a way to get things done and done right! They never sacrificed quality or service. Those traits I am blessed to have grown up with and use every day.

    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    Read a lot about successful businesses and what the common traits are for the owners, the business setup, and the marketing. Learn as much as you can. Most importantly, read about business law and anything to do with your business or product setup and protection, so you don't have to learn the hard way it will be very important later in life. Don't be quite so trusting, go with your gut, but check it out and document anything important in writing, so people can't take advantage of you. Find mentors early in areas of business that you are interested in and learn, learn, learn! Decide what you love and find something to do with that and work will be fun instead of work! Ask lots of questions. You don't know what you don't know, until you ask! Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Jane Lee of Poke-a-Dot

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    We recently caught up with Jane Lee, Founder of Poke-a-Dot, an adjustable cosmetics organizer. Jane created this travel makeup organizer after getting fed up with digging around in her makeup bag. A frequent traveler, she’d had it with taking her makeup on the go and fishing through a jumble of cosmetics—and messes like leaky bottles and broken powders. So, she created a better system. Hear more about Jane's adventures as an entrepreneur.

    Meet the Maker of Poke-a-Dot cosmetic organizer, Jane Lee. Jane shares insight on what it's like to start a business and gives advice to entrepreneurs just starting out.

    Poke-a-Dot: Adjustable Cosmetic Organizer
    Starting at $44.95 Buy Now

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    I wanted to be either Barbra Streisand or Linda Ronstadt. I LOVED to sing. I was an opera major at Indiana University and was part of several musicals. I do remember wanting to open a hotel when I was young (like 9) because I loved to organize the names of the people who were my guests! (I guess that is where my organizational journey began!)

    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    Don't sweat the small stuff. Believe in yourself and your God-given talents!

    Left: Jane with Lisa O'Dell, board member who has helped Jane along her journey Right: Jane at her first tradeshow

     

    What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
    Believe, believe, believe! If you have faith in what you are doing, have done your due diligence, and it has proven that what you are "making" can be successful, don't listen to the naysayers. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Michael and Wells of Rogue Industries

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Michael Lyons and Wells Lyons are co-owners of Rogue Industries–a leather goods business up in Maine. This father and son team began crafting leather men's front pocket wallets after Michael couldn’t find the right one for himself. We recently caught up with Wes and he shared more about what's it's been like running this family-owned business and gave advice for other Makers just starting out.

    Meet the Makers behind Rogue Industries. In this Meet the Maker edition, The Grommet catches up with the founders of Rogue Industries, a leather goods business based in Maine. 

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    I wanted to be a paleontologist. I've always loved dinosaurs, rocks, and the outdoors. Today I've got a stegosaurus tattoo that's a replica of the first scientific drawing of a stegosaurus that was done by paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh. I like his illustration because it's all wrong (the number of plates are way off, and the tail spike placement is incorrect) but Marsh went for it–he didn't let the idea of perfection stop him from acting. In business terms, you could say he understood minimum viable product and the importance of getting to market!

    So I didn't become a paleontologist–business and law became greater interests. But I still love exploring the outdoors, especially habitats where it feels like a triceratops could be just around the corner.

    Meet the Makers behind Rogue Industries. In this Meet the Maker edition, The Grommet catches up with the founders of Rogue Industries, a leather goods business based in Maine.

    What three words would you use to describe entrepreneurship?
    Persistence, luck, and resilience. I find the harder I work, the luckier I am. But that doesn't mean there won't be enormous challenges that knock you down from time to time. You've just got to make sure you get back up and keep moving in the direction you want to be going in.

    Meet the Makers behind Rogue Industries. In this Meet the Maker edition, The Grommet catches up with the founders of Rogue Industries, a leather goods business based in Maine.

    What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other Makers?
    Start small but be relentless. Track your progress each day, identifying the top three or five items that must get done. Check in regularly to make sure those actions sync to your larger goals.

    What other things do you love to make?
    I really enjoy cooking for friends and family. Being from Maine, knowing how to make a good chowder is pretty much required. Years ago I took JFK's fish chowder recipe and made a few adjustments to it at Christmas. I was trying to impress this woman I was seeing, and I'd say it worked, as now we're married.

    Enjoying cooking is definitely something I've gotten from my dad–Michael's lobster stew is legendary. My brother, Jesse, is the real chef in the family though. He's also The Grommet's neighbor (you can see his house from your office!). Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Lee Mallahan III of Tadpole

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    We recently caught up with Lee Mallahan III, the inventor of Tadpole tape cutter. He's sharing some advice he's learned along his entrepreneurial journey and giving us a glimpse at his next invention.

    Meet the Maker of Tadpole Tape Cutter

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    I grew up on an island so I spent tons of time as a little boy building cities in the sand! I wanted to be an architect.

    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    Don't wait for the perfect time, just make sure things are right and go for your dreams. We are only here for a little while!

    Meet the Maker of Tadpole Tape Cutter

    What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
    If it is to be, it is up to me!  Meaning when you decide to jump all in on a project, from inception to making your first sale, you should be 100% the driving force to see it through at every level.

    What has surprised you most about starting a business? Or this biggest challenge?

    Big retail may want and like your product, BUT most are making decisions today for what will be on their shelves 8 months from now.  I say: See It, Buy It, and Sell It today!! They move a little slower.

    What has been the most rewarding part of starting a business?
    Creating jobs in America and in our community.  Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Bonnie Tyler of The Negg

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today we're catching up with Bonnie Tyler, the Maker behind The Negg. Bonnie invented a hard-boiled egg peeler after a frustrating experience peeling eggs. After some prototyping and research at her local library, she cracked a solution and her product was born. Hear more from Bonnie on what it's been like starting a business and what advice she has to share with other Makers just starting out.

    Meet the Maker Bonnie Taylor of The Negg. She shares what it's like starting a business and advice for other Makers just starting out.

    What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other Makers?
    To give one is impossible. There are many many pieces of advice. Things we've learned–take your pick. :)

    1.You can't go into this half-heartedly. Any invention needs your full attention. To think you can take it on as a part-time job would be a mistake. Only if you want to make a partially successful project.

    2. Other makers are out there who are eager to help you through the process. Talk to them.

    3. It's a big leap to actually follow through with an idea. Get your prototype, apply for a patent, and then show your invention to your family and friends and watch their reactions. We had that “aha” moment with The Negg. That feedback was invaluable and helped us take the leap.

    What other things do you love to make?
    An eagle on a par 5. Yes, I am a frustrated golfer. Talk about creating! Every time you hit an errant shot you have to create a plan for recovery. Golf is creation on steroids.

    Meet the Maker Bonnie Taylor of The Negg. She shares what it's like starting a business and advice for other Makers just starting out.

    What has surprised you most about starting a business?
    Manufacturing and selling product has so many pieces. It requires so much more than just the product. Instruction sheets, boxes, shipping boxes, customer service, and on and on. At times the learning curve is a vertical line. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Julia Bitton of Dr. Fedorenko True Organic

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today we're catching up with Julia Bitton of Dr. Fedorenko True Organic to learn a bit more about her organic skin care company. There are actually two doctors at work in this family company. Dr. Julia Fedorenko Bitton and her mom, Dr. Larissa Fedorenko, first created the Bug Stick to fight mosquitos and ticks at home in New York. They’ve since paired their backgrounds in dermatology and holistic medicine to helps bodies in other ways—and always naturally.

    Meet the Maker Dr. Fedorenko True Organic

    What would be the name of your biography?
    Hustle + Heart will set you apart!

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    I wanted to become veterinarian when I grew up, but soon after, I have discovered that I was allergic to pretty much every animal on earth; so when I actually grew up, I became a naturopath, and later I was able to reverse almost all of my allergies.

    Meet the Maker Dr. Fedorenko True Organic

    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    Success is in the tiny steps. The steady progress. The calm focus. The disciplined persistence. We’re brought up to admire the guy who cuts the red ribbon, but not the one who lays the bricks. Our society is overly eager to celebrate overnight success, but not to encourage daily commitment. Resist instant gratification and build your brand for a long haul–even if it means recognizing and celebrating progress on your own. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Barry Freeder of CouchCoaster

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today we're catching up with Barry Freeder, the inventor of CouchCoaster–an adaptable drink holder that drapes over the arm of your favorite place to sit. Its weighted sides keep your glass balanced and secure. 

    CouchCoaster

    First UK consumer show (March 2016)

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    Growing up I spent much of my time on creative pursuits like drawing, painting and ‘inventing’, although the latter was generally confined to building marble contraptions from whatever my mum was about to throw out. Looking back, these were early signs of a passion for design, however, I was also obsessed with playing soccer, and like many teenagers wanted to one day imitate my heroes on the soccer pitch!

    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    Follow your passion and not a career path. You’ll spend most of your life working so understand what motivates you most of all in life. Start by identify your talents and try and turn them into a rewarding job or entrepreneurial venture. Have confidence in yourself and your ideas, but don’t get lost in the emotions or romance of building anything from scratch unless you can objectively say it has a solid foundation. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Sigmar and Tom of Lovetuner

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Makers Sigmar Berg and Tom Rohner created Lovetuner. It holds a  single-note flute that plays 528 Hz–a tone believed to have  positive effects on our minds and bodies. With Sigmar’s talent as a designer and Tom’s skills as a spiritual lightworker, they created this Made in the USA necklace to hold some calming influence close at hand. We recently caught up with them to hear a bit more about their entrepreneurial journeys. 

    Meet the Maker Lovetuner

    Best business advice that you ever received?
    Be stubborn in following through with your ideas.

    What inspires you? Why do you love to design, create, and make?
    I love the idea to make this world a healthier, happier, and more peaceful place. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker Podcast: Maggi Blue of Magpie Creative

    commenter_magpieIf Maggi Blue had one piece of business advice it would be: just do the thing. The jeweler, artisan and web and graphic designer took that advice to heart when she started selling her own handcrafted items and when she created her signature jewelry piece, the hammered spinning ring. Made in her Maine studio from sterling silver, copper, and brass, the rings are timeless, versatile and a go-to for any fidgeter.

    On this episode, Maggi talks about how she got into making, how she's handled criticism, the joy of running her business, and much more.

    videostillv1_magpie

     

    Like what you hear? Listen to the rest of the Meet the Maker Podcast series here then rate, review, and subscribe on iTunes.

     

    magpi

    To learn more about Magpie Creative, watch our video here.

  • Meet the Maker: Brothers Artisan Oil

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    The Shea boys from Boston are mixing up small batch body care, like all-natural beard oil, that’s Made in the USA. Brothers Artisan Oil started in the basement soon grew into a production facility, still in Boston. We recently caught back up with then to learn more about this family business and see what it looks like behind the scenes.

    MTM 1
    What advice would you give yourself 5 years ago?
    We'd tell ourselves to get a real production space right away. We started the company without investors or loans, using only our own savings, and didn't want to shell out for rent. That was a big mistake. We got an order for 5000 units within two weeks of starting the company and basically converted our entire house into a production space, which was especially disruptive because we had a newborn baby. All's well that ends well, though!

    What 5 personality traits do think have helped you become successful entrepreneurs?
    Baxter is Hugh Honey, Owen is Vick Vinegar, Marie likes science. It works.

    MTM 2

    What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
    We've learned to trust in ourselves and our company, and make big equipment investments before we're in over our heads. If you doubt yourself and avoid spending big bucks on the tools you need to succeed...you won't succeed.

    MTM 5

    What has surprised you most about starting a business?
    Honestly, the most surprising part of this whole adventure is how big it's gotten without any marketing. We've never paid for publicity, and yet we've been lucky enough to be featured in big publications like Vogue and Men's Health. None of us realized how much notice a company can get from just having a good product. Continue Reading

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