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Tag Archives: Makers

  • 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 Taylor 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 were catching up with Bonnie Taylor, 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 halfheartedly. 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 “ah ha” 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

  • The Future of Made in the USA

    This week we’re celebrating Makers with products Made in the USA. At The Grommet, we see American manufacturing through the lens of the final product. So we recently attended a conference held by the Urban Manufacturing Alliance to see the progress being made in American manufacturing on the ground floor. Here are the issues we dug into.

    Access to Capital.  2.7% of female founders receive VC funding and it’s even less for minority business owners. The group advocated for alternative methods of financing like crowd funding and impact loans that have more generous results and are very effective in lifting small businesses off the ground.

    Physical Space. To combat this issue, cities and facilities are meeting in the middle. San Francisco has begun rolling out modular manufacturing spaces and across the country, micro-factories are popping up for companies looking at producing smaller batches of products before full-scale production.

    Education. Creating a product has never been easier, but many Makers enter the manufacturing world with limited knowledge. Manufacturers are being trained to help Makers understand this new realm regardless of their background. For the next generation, schools are focusing on technology and entrepreneurship programs. Two examples of that happening in Boston: BUILD and Fab Labs 4 America.

    Inclusivity. Entrepreneurship and the American Dream are evolving on a cultural level so policymakers and business leaders must make inclusivity a priority. Minority business owners seek representatives that look like them at the decision-making table. The more hurdles they face, the less likely they are to succeed and make an impact on their community. Beyond economic, it’s a trust-building issue. As the business world grows more diverse, that trust becomes more vital.

    There is plenty more he can and will dig into. If you have any stories or resources, we'd love to hear about them.

    And now, here are some of the American-made products from our site that are helping to make more American-made products possible.

    VideoStillV1_Jamstik

    1. Mobile guitar lessons

    Made in South Dakota, Jamstik+ lets you learn how to play the guitar at your own speed. The guitar neck complete with strings and frets plays through your iPhone, iPad, or Mac with free downloadable lessons.
    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: 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

  • Meet the Maker: Adam Liszewski of Stokes

    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 Adam Liszewski, the teenage entrepreneur behind Stokes. Stokes are all-natural fire starters that Adam has grown from his original DIY Christmas gifts into a cottage industry—and beyond—in just a few years. Adam’s invention lights fires while helping his local community and the environment . . . and he’s only a teenager. Read on to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey.

    stokes

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    I am still growing. :)  I just always want to be trying new things, challenging myself, learning, creating things that improve on what’s out there. Like Stokes. Lot of firestarters out there but Stokes (as simple an idea as it is), burns longer and starts easier than what’s out there and also much more environmentally friendly.

    What was the biggest hurdle for you when turning your idea into a business?
    The biggest hurdle in the beginning was getting people to just try my product. Now, I have to say, that my biggest hurdle is time. Time to do everything that needs to be done. I have more help now so that’s great. I have been very lucky to have great partners in Charles River and with distributors and great relationships with stores I sell Stokes to and great fan base who love them. It make things easier and more fun.

    Stokes 2

    Stokes All-Natural Firestarters $9.95

    .
    What advice would you give other young entrepreneurs?
    Reach out to anyone and everyone to get advice, guidance, and support. But also always listen to yourself. There will always be people who can’t see your idea working when you can. There is always the guy in the room who is negative. Don’t let that negative person stop you–keep going. Be fair in pricing, fair to your employees, and have fun.

    What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    1. I don’t over react to negative news.
    2. I think I take my time to respond in meetings.
    3. I have a lot of energy. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Sydney Hewitt of Coast & Cotton

    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 Sydney Hewitt, the Designer of hometown custom towel company, Coast & Cotton. After graduating from Auburn University with a degree in industrial design, Sydney and her husband, Will, were a military family and moved regularly, giving Sydney the idea for designs that celebrate states. Creating these nostalgia-channeling tea towels turned into a full-time job, and Coast & Cotton was born.
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    cc

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    I knew from an early age that I wanted to do something in the arts. My dad, a graphic designer, and my grandmother, a watercolor artist, both played a large role in my love of drawing, painting, and creating. As a child, I could sit for hours creating patterns with gel pens and markers all over my notebooks and sketch pads. My parents always encouraged my love of the arts and enrolled me in calligraphy, sketching, and painting classes during my early years. So when it came time to pick a major in college, a design degree felt like a natural fit.

    ...
     How do you get around creative roadblocks?
    Creative roadblocks are definitely part of the process when you work in the design field. My husband and business partner, Will, is my sounding board for all new designs and patterns. When designing a new pattern, I come up with an initial drawing and color scheme, then Will comes in and helps with the layout and spacing. It is crucial to have someone with an eye for space and symmetry to tweak a design and get it just right.
    coast and cotton
     ...
    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    Be ok with staying at home, supporting your husband with his career, focusing on your babies, and slowly working on your idea until the time is right. Then jump on it as fast as you can! Don’t rush the process, and don’t be discouraged if it’s not in “your timeline”. The Lord's plan is greater than your own.
    ...
    Best business advice that you ever received?
    Know when you have a good thing. Work hard to constantly improve it, but don’t over improve until it’s not your idea anymore. Look to the trends, but don’t become a trend. Keep your ideas fresh and innovative while still remaining true to your aesthetic.
    ...
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    coast & cotton
    ...

    Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Jennifer Nevins of Savor

    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 Jennifer, one of the mom-inventors behind Savor. Jennifer, together, with Karla, created a thoughtfully designed keepsake system that is and meant to be seen. Hear more about how these Makers  got their start and what they've as entrepreneurs. 

    Meet the Makers of Savor

    How do you get around creative blocks?
    Research. Research. Research. After we hash out together what we think are the best ideas we can muster, we convene focus groups of relevant audiences. We try to have folks we don't really know in these groups so we can solicit honest advice. We are also constantly engaging with our consumers to see what they like and what they don't like.

    Best creative advice that you ever received?
    Make sure that you're not so attached to a creative idea that you forget your consumer's needs. We value aesthetics greatly, but we also need to make sure our product solves a problem.

    What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    Courage (to fail, to ask, to put ourselves out there), attention to detail, and sticktoitiveness (it's actually a word–we checked).

    maker Quote Savor

    What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
    Making a business succeed is about much more than having a good idea or a good product. We've had to wrangle with shipping, warehouses, freight, factories, accounting, web design, Google analytics, trade shows, gift wrap, you name it. Most of it is not glamorous, but any break in the chain can keep your business from succeeding. To be successful, you need to feel like none of it is beneath you and all of it is worth doing (even the parts you hate). When we are freaking out having spent two hours on the phone with UPS, we try to think that the fun is in the problem-solving and the reward is that we have truly touched our customers with a product they respond to.

    Maker Photos

    "We work wherever we are. Karla still holds another job and has two kids and I, Jenny, have a household of three kids, so we have to be flexible about when and where we can meet together. Sometimes it's very early weekend mornings or late weekday nights."

    What has surprised you most about starting a business?
    We are constantly amazed at the time people take to tell you how much they love your product or to give helpful feedback. We aren't people who fill out reviews or surveys, so we are surprised and delighted that on a daily basis our customers want to talk to us and share our products with their friends. By far, talking with the end-users of our product is the best part of our job. Continue Reading

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  • As featured in:

  • Today Show
  • Real Simple
  • The New York Times
  • Fortune
  • Inc Magazine