There is no idea that is too small or too weird that it can't make you some cold hard cash. In fact, it seems like the most basic and simplest of ideas have made people millions of dollars. It almost makes you want to smack yourself in the head and say, "I could of thought of that!"
Coming up with the right idea, no matter how small, seems to happen to us in our moments of need. Almost all of these women who made millions off of their products first had an essential need that had to be fulfilled. At first, they made something with what was on hand. They used it, tested it out, and, if it worked, they made plans to mass produce it.
Other women took a hard look at what they were already doing. If they were doing it, other women were probably doing it, too. So they needed to find a way to make the product easy, convenient, and even fun.
This list of twelve women who came up with ideas that made them rich will show you, and hopefully inspire you, that no idea is too silly. The wheel really can be remade, as can any other product currently on the market. The trick is to find your own, unique angel that fills a current need or trend.
12 Red Sole Stickers
Tara Haughton shows us that we can never be too young to come up with an incredibly simple but profitable idea. When she was preparing to attend a wedding, she bought a new pair of shoes and tried to peel the sticker off the bottom. It left behind a red residue and, while she was at the wedding, a relative asked if she was wearing a pair of Louboutins. It must have been a light bulb moment because Haughten went on to create red stickers that could be applied to the bottom of heeled shoes. She now sells her stickers to people in 23 countries and has named her company Rosso Solini.
11 Two Men and a Truck
If you are a mom with two sons, what do you do? Mary Ellen Sheets had two sons who went around doing odd jobs hauling trash and yard brush during their high school years. After they went off to college, mom’s telephone kept ringing. That gave her an idea. Sheets hired two men and bought a truck. Soon her company, Two Men and a Truck, took off. One of her sons has since taken over her job as the CEO, but Sheets remains on the board of directors. The company is franchised and is located in 34 states. In 2011, the company brought in $220 million in sales.
We love to spend money on our pets. They are our best friends and they deserve all the love and care we can give them. That is why I am not surprised that a protective goggles for dogs idea could bring its creator millions in retail sales. Roni Di Lullo was outside playing with her border collie one day and noticed that her dog was squinting in the sun as it tried to catch a Frisbee. This gave Di Lullo an idea and she hit the drawing board. She designed a pair of goggles just for her dog and then began spending a few hours here and there marketing the specs online. Her company, Doggles, now has its doggy goggles available in many retail stores, including PetSmart, PetCo, and the goggles are available on Amazon.com.
9 Fruity Water
Taking a stroll through the water aisle and the organics section of the grocery store will reveal more types of flavored water than you can shake a stick at, but you would be surprised at the money making potential in the market. Kara Goldin, like many of us, found plain water boring. She was trying to give up diet soda, but needed a flavorful alternative. She began making her own fruit waters and both her husband and children enjoyed her creations. She knew she had an idea worth taking to the market. After making an initial investment of $50,000 into her new company, Hint, her sales have reached into the millions.
Sara Blakely needed something that would help tuck in her middle so one night she cut off the leg parts of a pair of pantyhose and wore the waist part to keep her middle firm. This simple fix turned into a multimillion dollar idea. Blakely took her $5,000 in savings and began designing what we now call Spanx. Better than a girdle, Spanx are made to flatten the appearance of some of our toughest weight loss areas, from our bellies to our thighs. What’s more, many celebrities have admitted to wearing Spanx, making the product fashionable instead of something to be ashamed of.
7 Allergy Bracelets
Like most moms who have a child with an allergy or even multiple allergies, Iris Shamus worried that someone would give her son something with nuts in it. Knowing that a severe nut allergy, as with any other severe allergies, can be potentially deadly, she came up with the idea of allergy bracelets and necklaces for kids to wear. She and her husband came up with different characters for each of the eight major food allergies and created little stories for them. Soon, she received her shipment of the AllerMates bracelets and dog tags and she began to send out samples to different retail stores. In two weeks, Walgreens was interested in her products. From there, her allergy alerting products have expanded to include lunch bags, medicine bags, and stickers.
6 Liquid Paper
Many years ago, as women would sit at the typewriter, enduring one of the few occupations available to them, they would fumble with typing mistakes. Since this was before the invention of the personal computer, these hardworking secretaries would be faced with a choice: risk leaving in the typo or finding something to cover up the mistake. Enter Bette Nesmith Graham. As an executive secretary back in the 1950s, she used a small paintbrush and white tempera paint to cover up her typing mistakes. She knew her idea could make her money among the other secretaries and in 1956 she sold her first bottle of typo cover-up, called Mistake Out. Graham eventually patented her product and renamed it Liquid Paper. By 1979 she was selling roughly 25 million bottles of the stuff a year. She sold her Liquid Paper company for $47.5 million. Sadly, she passed away six months after selling her company.
5 Pillow Pets
Remember sleeping on your stuffed animals when you were a kid? Well, that may have been good enough for us older folks, but kids now expect a Pillow Pet because, hey, it is both a pillow and a stuffed animal. Jennifer Telfer came up with the idea for Pillow Pets after watching her sons bunch up their stuffed animals to make pillows out of them. Talk about a creative mom. She took the idea further and created a stuffed animal that could be folded into a pillow and the idea made her over $100 million. Kids got it good these days.
Imagine having people pay for beauty samples that are sent out monthly to subscribers. That is what Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp dreamed up back in 2010 when they started their company, Birchbox, back in 2010. Having met at Harvard Business School, these two women created a monthly gift subscription service with the goal to introduce women to samples of new beauty products. The business went so well that they added a subscription service for men called Birchbox Man. While you might not think that there is money in sending out beauty samples, in 2014 they had over 800,000 subscribers and were bringing in about $96 million in yearly sales. Not a bad idea for sending out samples of products.
3 Mabel’s Labels
If you have a young child, you know how easy it is for kids and their parents to get things mixed up. From drinking cups to jackets, it is easy to get things switched, mixed up, and lost. Julie Cole and three other Canadian moms took this problem seriously and created Mabel’s Labels. They created permanent labels that can be applied to kids’ stuff. What makes this labels better than labelled tape is that their labels are durable, dishwasher safe, and microwave safe. They have since expanded their label line to include metal label tags and ID wristbands. Parents’ love the idea of no longer getting cups and even hats mixed up and, in 2009, the company brought in $4 million in revenue.
2 The Body Shop
For the most part, women would either go to the grocery store, drug store, or to a department store to buy her bath products, so the idea of a store totally dedicated to bath and soaps was fairly uncommon until Anita Roddick opened her first shop in England in 1976 called The Body Shop. She needed to create an income to care for herself and her two daughters while her husband was traveling the world. Her idea took off and and in six months she opened her second shop. She franchised her idea and stores began opening up all over the world. In 2006, Roddick sold her company for $1.4 billion to L’Oreal.
Kids love making their own stuff and it is an absolute surprise that the Build-A-Bear Workshop didn’t come around until 1997. The founder, Maxine Clark, was out shopping for a toy with a 10-year-old. The child was disappointed with the selection of stuffed toys and asked why she couldn’t make her own toy. It must have been a lightbulb moment for Clark because in 1997 she opened the first Build-A-Bear Workshop in St. Louis, Missouri. There are now more than 400 stores around the world with over 100 million bears made by big and little people.