Meet, Christy Meek, Mom Inventor of the StairMaid
Christy Meek was tired of battling her vacuum cleaner when trying to clean the stairs in her home. This inspired her to invent a universal attachment that fits exiting vacuum cleaners (connects to the standard 1 1/4" vacuum wand) to take away the frustration for others. It is my pleasure to share her inspiring and resource rich story with you. Hear about her struggles and successes bringing her innovative product idea to market.
Mom Invented: What or Who inspired you to start your business?
Christy: I invented StairMaid out of pure frustration. Nothing out there was designed to clean stairs or any 90 degree angle at one time.
Mom Invented: Tell us about your family. How do you juggle it all?
Christy: I am extremely blessed with 2 healthy and beautiful kids Carter 7 and Faith 3. Finding a balance between work and kids is hard, but at the end of the day I wouldn't change a thing! We're MOMS and we can multitask like no others! I set very specific goals for myself, I tackled one thing at a time.
Mom Invented: What challenges or hiccups have you experienced along the way?
Christy: The biggest challenge thus far is branding my StairMaid. Most retailers want branded items to sell. The patent process is long, stressful and expensive.
Mom Invented: What has been your biggest success so far?
Christy: I have two so far. QVC picked up my product and now the As Seen on TV brand is testing StairMaid.
Mom Invented: Please tell us how you approached QVC and what that process/experience has been like.
Christy: I determined what stores and distributors would be the best fit for my StairMaid. QVC makes it quite simple to submit your product they have direct link on their site. They have a program called Sprouts, where products are placed online and viewers vote for the winner. StairMaid was featured on the Sprouts program in May. QVC.com has links on their site to submit your idea for the Sprouts program. If they like your idea, you get featured online with 3-4 other products for a week and viewers vote. The winner and runner up get their products on QVC.com
Mom Invented: Please Tell Us How "As Seen on TV" is different from QVC. How did you get your product in front of them?
Christy: I know that in order for my StairMaid to succeed it needs TV. Therefore, in my research, I Google searched "As Seen on TV" brand information. I came across Idea Village, once on their homepage you can submit your idea. I am told that they receive 1000-1500 products a month and only choose a couple to proceed with. StairMaid was selected and now Idea Village is moving forward with my product. Both of these retailers are huge and can brand items overnight.
Mom Invented: How did you find a manufacturer? What process did you go through to find one? How did you find one that you trust?
Christy: Google was my friend throughout this process. My first step was to design and produce a working prototype. I found three local prototype companies and met with two of them. I selected the company that had the best vision for my product. Engineers helped me with the design and at last my prototype was in my hand! From there I needed to name it and start the branding process, StairMaid just came to me. I loved the play on words, and my slogan was born "cleaning your stairs.... maid easy."
Now because my product is made of poly-carbonate I needed an injection mold. I wanted StairMaid to be made in the US but unfortunately that was not an option. I had to take this part overseas to China -- the cost comparison wasn't even close. I found US companies that had factories in China with US sales reps. I spent months calling and getting pricing. During this process, I received an email from a sales rep at KenMold. She was given my information from another company who knew they couldn't help me. I did my homework on KenMold and found they had other large accounts and a sales rep in Atlanta to assist me. Injection molds are not cheap, but for my product this was a necessity. I can produce an unlimited amount of units using this mold. This was the lengthiest step of my process; months of CAD (computer aided design) drawings back and forth from the factory and my engineer. While this was going on I designed my own logo and set up my website. I included my logo on my mold, I also trademarked my logo and name through Legal Zoom.
Mom Invented: Please share any resources that truly helped you.
Christy: I reached out to the Vacuum Dealers Trade Association and they were able to provide me with names of other small companies that attended the tradeshow last year.
Mom Invented: How did you fund your business?
Christy: I looked into using angel investors, but couldn't find a good fit. I used money from my savings account to fund my entire company from patents, trademarks and the injection mold. This is scary. I believe in my products success and will not stop until 100% of that money is back in my savings account. I know starting up a company is not cheap, but I am investing in myself. I hope my story inspires other moms, who may be on the fence, to go for it! Of course make educated decisions but never second guess yourself.
Mom Invented: Where can people purchase this item now?
Mom Invented: What has surprised you the most about launching your product(s) or running a business?
Christy: That I DID it, my goal throughout this entire process has been to get StairMaid to retail. I can't wait to walk into a major retailer and see StairMaid on the shelf and tell my kids that mommy did that!!
Thank you, Christy, for sharing your story with us.
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