Inventing a Product and Bringing it to Market
Interview with Michele Y. Barnett, Founder of HerStylzShop.com
Necessity is the mother of invention! Michele Barnett invented her hair caps after having to wrap her hair with huge towels. She invented a product and runs her business, HerStylzShop.com.
Michele Barnett founded HerStylzShop.com in 2008 in Atlanta Georgia.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
At HerStylzShop.com, I design and manufacture hair caps for sleeping, spa and cancer victims.
How did you come up with your business idea?
I was tired of going to the spa wrapping a huge towel around my head and I knew there had to be a better way. This same frustration existed with sleep caps. Caps currently on the market either use elastic bands which causes hair breakage over time or requires knots and ties which it totally uncomfortable to sleep with. So, my design was born out of necessity!
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I'm a licensed attorney working for the State of Georgia's human services agency creating programs and policies.
Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you?
Absolutely! I wrote a complete plan and even entered it in a business plan contest. I was a regional runner up. I used SBA's SCORE volunteers and the Georgia Business Development Center. GBDC was very instrumental in getting me free and low cost current market research and analysis which is generally very expensive to obtain.
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
Yes, I operate my business from home. It's very cost effective especially since I outsource my product production including manufacturing and packaging. There were no challenges for me. The benefit however was my ability to keep my overhead very low. I can take care of the administration and operations from my home office with no overhead.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
Using the internet and existing business relationships has been very effective in growing my business. The internet help get the work out with minimal cash outlay. My business relationships help me locate workers and manufacturers at great prices! You never know who people know or how they can help until you share with them your situation.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I wish I would have approached the invention more for the intellectual property side and less from the products side. I'm now more interested in selling the invention to a larger company with international distribution then creating a product manufacturing company.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Have a business plan, do your homework: know your market, have the necessary capital set aside; and above all, be willing to work hard….VERY hard!!!!
Yes, that is one thing all entrepreneurs say! I think the hard work is well worth it. Thanks, Michele!
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