Monday, November 19, 2007

Savvy Sisters Create Sassy Signs

Savvy sisters, Nycole Pederson, Julie Tibbles and Tammy Nelson of St Paul, Minnesota heard the cry for help from design challenged yard signs. They put their heads together and gave the neighbors something sassy to talk about with their Sassy Signs and DeZine-A-Sign lines. From house sales to baby births, Sassy Signs will design it for you or let you do it yourself with their kit. When the sisters got great reaction from friends and neighbors for their sassy yard signs, they figured they were onto something. They combined their workplace talents to build their own enterprise. Nycole has a background in operations and IT. Julie is a whiz in business and finance and Tammy worked as director of retail development for Tommy Hilfiger USA. All three are married moms with 11 children between them. Their signs are available at selected Lowe’s stores and through their website.

A Toothbrush Holder You Can Use

Lisa Mears, 46, is a self-described neat nick who got tired of her family’s assortment of toothbrushes scattered on the bathroom sink. There wasn’t an existing sanitary central storage solution on the market to accommodate the range of brush sizes from slender to bulky - you know those superhero handles and battery pack ones. So, the Baltimore resident designed one. “I can’t even draw stick figures,” Lisa laughed amazed at the product she invented. With help from her then fiance, James Morris, and investments from family and friends Lisa raised $40,000 to get started. The resulting Cloverholder Toothbrush caddy, manufactured in Maryland, took 3rd place in the bath accessories category at the National Hardware Show in 2006. The invention also won Lisa recognition in June 2007 as "Woman Inventor of the Year" by the New Products Exposition (NPEX) organization in Pennsylvania.
Folks who have petite bathrooms and no shelf space will appreciate the wall mount version. The Cloverholder is available in colors too! And kids, parents and grandparents can easily customize it as a home project using craft paints in favorite colors and image decals. Here come the Smurfs. The Cloverholder toothbrush holder is growing in its availability and can be found at select retail stores. But Lisa advises, "It is available right now on the web at the Cloverholder website.
On the personal front, realizing what great business partners they were and that, coincidentally they were in love, the couple married one steamy August day 2007. The next month the busy couple headed to Florida where they shot commercials for their product that were scheduled to air in November and December in 100 major cities, 100 times, on Bravo, WE and WGN stations. Ah, the inventor's life.

360 Rotation Electrical Outlet

If you’ve ever tried to plug in the charger cords for your cell phone and your ipod or power up your hair dryer and curling iron in the same outlet at the same time then you've felt Kim Gerard's pain. I know I cheered when she recalled how ticked off she was when she pitched her cellphone charger across the hotel room. The space hog chargers she traveled with for business would not play together in the one available electrical wall outlet. Rather than stay mad too long she decided to fix the problem and just go ahead and invent an outlet that worked with our modern day toys. "I sketched the idea out on a napkin," she said. The "idea" is an electrical outlet with plugs that rotate 360 degrees. Don't you love it? It helped that Kim has a background in civil and environmental engineering. In 2001, she received the patent and put the device through its safety and market paces. Now the 360 electrical outlet is available at a hardware store near you. If it ain't there, ask why not.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sustainable Sense in Kansas City, Missouri

Windows embedded in reflection pool's floor allow sunlight to stream in parking garage below
Inside the garage, halos of sunlight pour through the ceiling windows
Close up of view, looking up through garage's ceiling window

At Kansas City's Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art common sense and environmental responsibility combined to create a reflecting pool that serves as a light source for the museum's underground parking garage. Circular glass windows embedded in the reflection pool floor allow daylight to illuminate the garage through the garage ceiling.