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Tag Archives: Makers

  • A Decade of Discovery: The Grommet Turns 10

    It started, as innovation often does, with frustration. Sitting in the boardrooms of Stride Rite and Keds, Jules and Joanne grew discontent as new, unique products were swept aside in favor of iterations of last year's best sellers. They grew tired of watching small businesses play on an uneven playing field.

    They decided to change it.

    In the time since The Grommet — or rather Daily Grommet — launched in 2008, the landscape of product creation has aptly reinvented itself. Kickstarter became common vernacular, 3D printing is now accessible at libraries around the country. It's never been easier to bring a product to life.

    Years ago we set a goal. By 2020, 10% of all products flowing through the U.S. would originate from small-scale businesses. Consumer purchases represent 65% of the American economy. What we buy is a powerful step in achieving that goal and changing how we discover, share, and ultimately, purchase products.

    It's a tough goal to track. But 3,000+ products, 1,000 Ace Hardware displays, and 15,000 Main St. Retail partners nationwide goes a long way in evening the playing field.

    This is how we got here. We still have a ways to go.

    CLICK TO ZOOM

  • 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. At a conference held by the Urban Manufacturing Alliance, we were able 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 we 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: Rene and Simone Xavier of Sigma Beauty

    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 kicking off 2018 by catching up with Simone Xavier of Sigma Beauty. Simone, along with her husband Rene, with backgrounds in civil engineering and molecular biology, teamed up to identify an urgent need and design a solution. And the result is an innovative way to clean your makeup brushes–a makeup brush cleaning glove. Hear more about what it's like behind the scenes of Sigma Beauty.

    In this Meet the Maker interview, meet the husband and wife team behind Sigma Beauty.

    What has been the most surprising aspect of starting a business?
    The most surprising aspect of starting Sigma Beauty was the way our love for engineering and science has helped our customers solve beauty problems. Being different and developing outside-the-box solutions has been our most valuable asset and helped us build a devoted fan base that’s as hooked on innovation as we are.

    What advice would you have given yourselves 10 years ago?
    Get organized and be ready to grow fast. Stay true to your core values. Remain committed to excellence and innovation, and it will pay off. Quality is a universal language spoken by customers around the globe.

    In this Meet the Maker interview, meet the husband and wife team behind Sigma Beauty.

    Where do you find design inspiration for new products?
    Our product design inspiration is heavily influenced by our customers’ needs and our engineering and scientific backgrounds. We listen to their problems and work hard to provide them with a smart solution. We put ourselves in our customer’s shoes and often find that our own needs are a very good predictor of products that will be useful to them. We pay close attention to industry trends and try to be ahead of the curve, introducing products that will address the trends in a distinct and unexpected way.

    In this Meet the Maker interview, meet the husband and wife team behind Sigma Beauty.

    What is the most challenging aspect of starting a business?
    When a business grows relatively fast, building the perfect team might be considered a challenge–one that is passionate about the brand, and is as committed to its success as we are. We have been very lucky to be able to build a dream team at Sigma. 2019 marks our 10 year anniversary, and there were challenges throughout our growth process, but these challenges were always solved by professionalism and commitment from our great team.

    In this Meet the Maker interview, meet the husband and wife team behind Sigma Beauty.

    What is the best advice you've ever received?
    Invest in quality and success will come. This has been a core value for our company. We do not launch a product unless we believe it is the best it can be for our customers. Our commitment to providing our customer with high quality product is at the center of every decision we make. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Michelle Silberman of ChocAmo

    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 Michelle Silberman from ChocAmo. Back in the 7th grade, Michelle  and her best friend had the idea to combine milk and cookies in one treat—cookie cups. Flash forward to today, and Michelle’s chocolate chip childhood dream is a tasty reality thanks to her college entrepreneurship course. Learn more about her journey below.

    Meet the Maker of ChoAmo

    Tell us more about your design inspiration.
    I've always been a lover of two things–family and incredible food. What started as a project in an Entrepreneurship Class at Drexel University has turned into a delicious obsession of sourcing the best ingredients and brainstorming infinite ways to bring THE perfect Cookie Cup to anyone and everyone who is a fan of the all-time classic snack of cookies and milk. Sound deliciously amazing? It is…worth every sip and every delectable bite!

    Coming from a first-generation household, Michelle’s passion for cooking delicious food that brings family and friends together is pure tradition; it's part of her soul. She found that no matter who was sitting at the table, as long as every dish is made with quality ingredients and love…great food has a magical way of bringing people together.

    For me, creating the trade secret Cookie Cup is more than just food innovation, it is a piece of my family merged with my love for inspiring connections, baked together and served up for sweets-lovers everywhere! 

    How do you get around creative blocks?
    We recently began to implement a weekly Cookie Cup Snack Time Brainstorming session with our ChocAmo Family (the team) every Monday at 3:00 p.m. This allows all members of the team to share their perspective and creative solutions while snacking on delicious treats. It is the perfect remedy for even the slightest trace of Monday blues, and allows everyone to build a creative synergy. 
    ...
    Meet the Maker on The Grommet
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    What three personality  traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
     Adaptability - The ability to think creatively and adapt to what is happening in the business. This also goes hand in hand with problem solving.

    Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Jaeson Plon and Bradd Kern of Sea Bottle

    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 Jaeson Plon, who along with Bradd Kern, created a natural hand wash, Sea Bottle. After Jaeson, a surfer and diver, wanted to inspire us to be kinder to the oceans that sustain us. This feel-good, good-looking soap is beautiful and purposeful enough to become a permanent counter top fixture. Read on to learn more about the inspiration behind Sea Bottle and how Jaeson and Bradd brought it to life.

    Tell us more about your design inspiration.
    We wanted to design something beautiful, of course, but also to inspire our customers to learn more about our passion for the ocean and mission to reduce and raise awareness for ocean plastic pollution. The coordinates on the Bottle point to the heart of the pacific gyre, and it's a great conversation starter.

    How do you get around creative blocks?
    We surf straight through them! Ha. No, it's definitely not always easy. But, surfing is actually a great metaphor. Just relax, and the way forward emerges.

    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    Better to have scars than regrets. Also, wear more sun block!  Continue Reading

  • 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: Gina Locklear of Zkano

    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.


    In this installment we're catching up with Gina Locklear the Maker behind Zkano.  We recently caught up with Gina to learn more about her journey as an entrepreneur, what advice she has for other Makers, and what's next for her business.

    Meet the Maker: Zkano

    What did you want to be when you grew up?

    When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actress. In middle school and high school, I was almost always participating in a community play, it was my favorite thing to do. I played Alice from Alice in Wonderland in my senior play and have even been inspired by that character in some socks designs in the past.

    Can you tell us more about your design inspiration?

    It changes from season to season. Lately, bold is better. Our spring collection incorporates a lot of geometric shapes and patterns. Using unexpected color combinations is always a favorite of mine. I also love incorporating black and white stripes or designs into a sock pattern, a signature design detail for us that we use in some way each season.

    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 Wells and he shared more about what's it's been like running this family-owned business and gave advice to 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 the 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

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