Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Cyber Monday and I would like to celebrate my dear friend and fellow Woman Inventor Roberta Wagner!

It all started one evening around the dinner table when Roberta's nine year old daughter, Emily, said she wanted to bring her doll with them to New York for an upcoming day trip where they would make a traditional, special stop at the Amercian Girl Doll store. Roberta knew that once they left that store, she would then be stuck carrying Emily's doll. They looked and found other carriers on the market, however, none were hands-free, and walking through the busy streets of New York City makes holding hands with your children a must.

Roberta had a lightbulb moment and, being the creative person she is (her friends call her "Martha") whipped out her sewing machine and set to work making the first prototype of Carry-Her. On their next trip into the City, Emily used it to carry her doll and the response from people on the street was overwhelming. Twenty prototypes later, with Emily overseeing and assisting in the design process (the kid can sew too!) Carry-Her has been perfected and the word is spreading like wildfire.

Proudly manufactured in the US, Carry-Her Combos are flying out of the order fulfillment center aka Roberta's living room and into the arms of happy moms and girls all over the country!

Do yourself or someone you love a favor and get one today!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

And Now, An Important Word from Leslie Haywood

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Leslie Haywood. It is always so fun to speak with her! In light of all of the excitement over Homemade Millionaire, she reminded me of an article she posted on her blog in September of last year regarding "one of the biggest lies in business..."

I will admit that it is hard not to believe that getting your product on a show like Shark Tank, Pitchmen, American Inventor or Homemade Millionaire is the "Golden Ticket" to all of my entrepreneurial dreams coming true. The realistic me knows that this is not always the case and Leslie's article speaks volumes to this.

Hoping that many of my fellow inventor friends will read and find it useful too!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Homemade Millionaire: One Reject's Take

Processing complete (big sigh). Now that my five year old has been sent on her way to p.m. Kindergarten and I have enjoyed a nice lunch while crying my way through yesterday's Oprah's Ultimate Favorite Things, I think I am finally ready to provide my two cents on the Friday night Premier episode of Homemade Millionaire.

I tweeted myself silly...along with what seemed like about six other people. I even received a very sweet thank you DM from Kelly herself - Love you Kelly! One of the first things I was wondering as I was watching the show was "where is everyone?"

There has been a lot of commenting over on Tracy's ProductX blog, along with what seems like a lot of explaining by the winner, Marcy McKenna (me thinks thou doth protest too much).

This first part of my blog post is kind of like what my old boss and I used to call a "therapy letter". He would write a draft of a letter that would often start out not in the happiest of tones. I would type it up and turn it back over to him and we would hand the letter back and forth to one another with edits until eventually the letter was either never sent, or sent to the round file.

So, without further ado - here's me sounding a bit pitiful.

I flew to Chicago to attend Kelly Ripa's "Woman Inventor" casting call with a working prototype of my specialized cleaning tool in my hands and a prayer in my heart. I gave my best pitch... I know some of you have already heard it, and it seems VERY silly now:

"I'm a REAL Housewife in New Jersey - I haven't been nipped or tucked, and I still clean my own house, which is why I am so excited to tell you about my invention "Grime-Out!" This revolutionary new cleaning tool allows you to simultaneously scrub and rinse those tough to reach areas in the bath..."

See? I even brought my winning personality, which I have been told by many that I do possess, albeit in an often goofballesque fashion. I even write my own material! I also have in my filing cabinet a sealed envelope which I sent to myself certified mail a while back with another idea that's on the shelf for now.

As it turns out, and I shared this with the folks at Milojo as well, I too come from a family of inventors who have invented very significant things (e.g., Steve Jensen, invented Electronic Ballast for flourescent bulbs; John Christian Jensen, invented the P-Static Precipitator 1936, used on all aircraft today - my father and great grandfather respectively).

Frankly, I think I could kick some pitching ass on HSN and I know a lot of other ladies who could too (ahem, Marianne, Tracy, Ro, Ginny), especially when talking about their own product. But, unfortunately, we didn't realize that "ready to sell" meant, ready to host.

I do think (after dishing with friends and getting lots of other opinions) that this show would have been better served had it waited to put Marcy McKenna on at a later date, therefore allowing time for the product she submitted for consideration to be, know it sounds crazy... "ready to sell". There were thousands of women who auditioned for this show who are!

Was Tonya set up to be the black sheep of the first episode? It clearly stated in the application that you needed to have a "working prototype" and to be able to show how it worked. I know this because, since I could not bring a functioning shower with me to Chicago, my husband (not a film maker or producer) shot a demo video in our bathroom which we sent in with an online application. Yes, I applied online AND went to the casting call.

Again - bear with me because I REALLY want to see this show to succeed, but it was tough to watch the curly haired lady giving Tonya and her rollers a hard time due to the fact that THEY are the ones that brought her there! Clearly someone somewhere thought that Tonya and her MagicKurl rollers (not a working prototype) were good enough to make it on the show.

As for Stefany, I think she has a fantastic product that speaks for itself - I don't think the cuff "barely fit" around her hair, I think she was nervous and her fingers were a little shaky. It seemed so unfair that she was out in the first five minutes of the show!

Where was all of the step by step, through the process help we thought we were going to see? I thought, along with many others, that they would at least entertain us with some fun bloopers from the audition tapes.

Okay - now here's me with my big girl panties pulled way up:

This is what I know. This is television. No matter how much I love Kelly Ripa (and I do love her) and trust that her inentions for what she wanted to create here were/are good, there are a slew of other folks out there with their hands in it as well. Whether you want to believe it or not, these shows are about two things: entertainment and making money.

Also, cannot forget to mention what I thought was the quote of the show by Marcy that went something like "I'm not gonna have to invent something am I?" Really?

I went to Chicago and I had an experience that I will never forget and because of it, I have launched a business and am doing what I love to do. I am connected with some of the most incredible, empowering women you could ever ask to be included with and am so proud of all of them!

If you audition for a show like this and stake your life and being on it, you will be disappointed every time. We make our own destiny - I know you already know this!

Biggest lesson I think for many: You don't need to be on a reality television show to be successful. Your target audience is NOT watching this show - your fellow entrepreneurs are.

I will continue to support and look forward to tweeting about the show Friday night - I hope it will gain some momentum and at least put a spotlight on some really fabulous inventors.

My hat is off to ALL of the ladies - Marcy McKenna, Tonya Englebrecht and Stefany DiManno! There is no questioning that you are all winners!

As always, thank you for taking the time to read and share!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Big Day for Women Inventors on TLC's Homemade Millionaire!

The big day has finally arrived! I know there are many thousands of us out there who applied and auditioned for Kelly Ripa's Homemade Millionaire. Since those auditions, almost a year and a half ago, there has been a lot of waiting, hoping, wondering and speculating. How exactly is this show going to turn out? Why wasn't I chosen? Who did get chosen?

Will it be Stefany DiManno and her DiManno Designs Hair Cuff? Marcy McKenna and her Styling Station? Tonya Engelbrecht and her MagicKurl? We will find out tonight!!

I have to be honest and say that I have a couple of favorites here, but am stumped as to who might be the next Homemade Millionaire out of these three!

Stefany's hair cuffs are haute! I can see Marcy's Styling Station being a bestseller and, as a native Southern Californian, it's hard for me not to be rooting for my fellow SoCal girl!! Are they trying to trick us with Tonya's rollers? They make her presentation seem much less fancy than the others - but I'm not fallin' for it - they look VERY cool :).

I am officially rooting for all of you ladies, because I have an inkling into what you have gone through to get your products to this point.

Good luck to all of you - We'll be watching and tweeting all about you!!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

TLC's Homemade Millionaire Rejects - They Razzle, They Dazzle!

On this the day before the BIG day we've all been waiting for, I wanted to spread some more casting call reject love to a few more ladies who ooze fabulousity (I heart Kimora Lee too).

This first gal, while I don't know her well, I can tell you she's like a bottle rocket wrapped in a stick of dynamite (not sure if this is possible, but you get the idea)- Kendra Kroll, Founder of Undercover Solutions, LLC and creator of the PortaPocket is a no BS, real as they come, go getter of a girl. Her product is another one of those "how cool is that" accessories that can be used by just about anyone. I am sure that we were in Chicago together, but I didn't meet her until a while later in Twitterland. She's had a ton of great press over the past couple of years (e.g., NBC's Today Show and Tonight Show with Jay Leno!) and you can now find PortaPocket on Chicago area CVS shelves! Kick Ass Kendra's not gonna let anything stand in her way!

This next lady is a wearer of many hats and a class act in every way. Cindy Mpasiakos, Founder of Pieces of Me by Cindy has created a product that I canont believe wasn't chosen for this show. I can absolutely visualize this as a viable addition to the HSN jewelry offerings. It is so unique, thoughtful and versatile! From sports fundraisers to family and friends, these beautiful puzzle piece charms are a perfect fit! (pun intended!) I think Cindy's story speaks for itself, so I've taken the liberty of sharing it.

"I am a stay at home mom with three children and a husband. I have my own decorating business called Serene Surroundings that I do from home. I came up with this idea when my son Joshua was looking through my jewelry box and found a rock. He said, "Can I keep this in my pocket so I can always have a piece of you with me." Later on that night, my daughter, Gabrielle was holding a picture of me under her pillow for the same reason. I thought it was so touching that they wanted to always have a part of me with them. I then started drawing pictures of ways that they and other kids could have a part of their loved ones and came up with "Pieces of Me by Cindy" puzzle charms."

I am so glad to know Cindy and can't wait to see where Pieces of Me is going...I've got a sneaking suspicion there are some BIG things in the pipeline. I know she lives not far from me and think we need to work on a Reject Reunion of sorts with the east coast ladies!

And there are many, many more:

Here's to the Rejects!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

TLC's Homemade Millionaire Rejects Rock!

While I realize it had to be tough for Milojo (Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos' Production Co.) to choose the Women Inventors for the premier season of TLC's Homemade Millionaire, the ones left out in the cold aren't letting it slow them down!

I would now like to use my little corner of cyberspace to recognize the true fabulousness of some of the ladies and their products who I have come to know over the past year and a half.

First has to be Amy Sapirstein, Founder of Active Urban Mom LLC and her Mommy Mitten The night before I was heading for Chicago and desperately trying to figure out what to wear to the Chicago auditions (not to mention what to expect), I stumbled upon her blog where she posted about her experience at the NYC casting, along with a cute picture of herself holding the, at the time coveted, "Green Card". She might not have been chosen for the show, but Mommy Mitten is selling like hotcakes and is now available online at Babies 'R' Us and Toys 'R' Us! Thanks Amy, for saving me from a fashion disaster! Very glad to know her and call her a friend! One of these days we will meet up with some of the other ladies and have a very SATC afternoon!

Next up, Roberta Wagner, Founder of Carry-Her Inc. and Carry-Her, the one-of-a-kind doll carrier for Amercian Girl and all other 18" dolls. As the mother of two young girls who like to travel with their dolls, I can tell you first-hand this fabulous little backpack is a winner in every way! Do this: Get one (get two!), let your daughters wear them on your next outing and watch how many girls and their moms look, point, whisper and often ask "Where did you get that?" Sales of Carry-Her are startin' to blow up in a big way and she, like all of the other Women Inventors here, has worked her booty to the bone to make it happen. The bonus for me is that Roberta has become a dear friend who I adore and have learned a lot from personally through this experience. Love you Ro!

This next lady is about as true-blue as they come - always supportive and ready to lend a helping hand. If Ros Guerrero's Ficklets (Ficklets, LLC) are not the next Jibbitz, I don't know what is! I am that crazy lady who will approach complete strangers with kids wearing glasses to tell them about this fantastic product and say "See, Ficklets...they're like jibbitz for your glasses...look here's a picture on my phone." And there hasn't been a person yet who didn't say "Wow, what a cool idea! Those are so cute!" I have no idea what they say when I walk away, but I don't care - it's so easy to share about a product as fantastic as this. Last I heard, Ros was up all night getting a ready for shipment to a Distributor in Singapore! I am proud to call Ros friend as well, and am excited about her continued success!

I hope this gives you some idea - and maybe gives Milojo some ideas for Season 2 - of the incredible products being created and brought to market by Women Inventors! This door may have been closed to them, but I can guarantee they will tell you it's led them to so many other wonderful opportunities!

Keep your eyes peeled for more tomorrow!

And don't forget to Tweet Up with us Friday night! Homemade Millionaire will air this Friday, November 19th @ 10/9 Central on TLC! Check your local listings :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Countdown to Homemade Millionaire!

Let the countdown begin! Clear your calendars and make a date to watch Homemade Millionaire this Friday, November 19th on TLC at 10 p.m. EDT! We'll be all a Twitter and hope you'll join us!

Let's meet a few of the Inventors...

I've said it before and I'll keep on sayin' it - I am one of the happiest casting call rejects ever! Oh the places rejection has taken me! Never in a million years could I have predicted how much one 24 hr. whirlwind of a trip to Chicago to pitch my silly little cleaning tool would impact the course of my life. Because of this experience I have reconnected with old friends and made valuable new ones. I recently launched JenCann Productions and am excited about earning some extra "buck rogers" (as we like to call them around here) for being creative and doing what I love.

I met so many fabulous ladies in Chicago over a year ago and have also become very close with a few fellow rejects from the NYC casting. I can speak for them when I say we are rooting for all of the ladies who were chosen and look forward to showing our support on Friday nights! This is one of my favs! If Debra's Bake Huggers don't make you say "Why didn't I think of that?" I'll eat my hat!

If you or someone you know made it on, please share with us so we can cheer you on!

Kelly Ripa! Sending big love and shouts to you, Mark, the Milojo crew, TLC and HSN for the incredible opportunity you are giving these hardworking, passionate Women Inventors! I am proud to be an inventor who comes from a family of inventors!

Next time you're sitting on an airplane, look towards the outer edge of the wing and notice those two black sort of popsicle stick looking things. Those are called P-Static Precipitators and were invented by my Great Grandfather, John Christian Jensen in 1936.

On your next trip to the big box store look up at all of those flourescent lights (enough to give you a headache right?) and notice how they don't seem to throw off much heat. That's because in the 70's a super cool genius guy named Steve Jensen (aka my dad) invented the electronic ballast for flourescent bulbs to keep them from getting hot. Sheesh, you'd think I'd be some rich heiress considering how many flourescent light bulbs there are in the world, but no... Dad holds the patent and was paid a whopping $100 by the company he worked for at the time, Radiant Technologies in Southern California.

Have a great day and don't stop creating!