Inventors Eye | The Rx for Entrepreneurial Success

Inventors Eye | The Rx for Entrepreneurial Success
Inventors Eye
Inventors Eye. The USPTO's bimonthly publication for the independent inventor community. Feb2013 volume four, issue one0

The USPTO's bimonthly publication for the independent inventor community

An image of Geneva Grainger next to images of two of her products, "Belt Loopy" and "Heel Mates".

The Rx for Entrepreneurial Success

Have you ever sat at your desk, performing the tasks of your job as usual, and realized that you wanted to do something more creative-that you wanted to be your own boss, bring your own products to market, and run your own company? Was your next thought something like, "That's ridiculous. I could never do that"?

Meet Geneva Grainger, an attorney and Texas native who realized that sitting behind a desk and practicing personal-injury law was not the future she desired. But instead of putting aside the notion and resigning herself to a life of legalese, she chose to take a chance.

Geneva dipped her toe into the entrepreneurial pool by launching an online business buying and selling "sample" designer bridal gowns. Offering a low-cost wedding dress option for brides-to-be turned out to be a profitable enterprise.

"The experience gave me the confidence to branch out and launch my own products," said Geneva. "I wanted to create something from scratch and see if I could build a brand."

Encouraged by the success of her first independent venture, Geneva turned her focus towards sustainability and natural products.

"I've always been interested in healthy lifestyles, and tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can put in your body due to its high antioxidant levels and weight-loss properties," she said.

Geneva worked with growers in China to develop proprietary tea blends, which led to the creation of her second business, Global Organix. Since launching with two certified organic tea blends, the brand now has 10 blends available nationwide in major nutrition stores. Geneva will soon expand into organic coffees and loose teas.

Geneva's latest venture began when she was, like many independent inventors, trying to solve an annoying everyday problem.

"Every time I wore a belt with clothes that didn't have belt loops-a dress for example-I'd get frustrated because there was no way to hold the excess belt in place," said Geneva.

While researching the issue, she realized that she was not the only one seeking a solution. This inspired Geneva to spend several months test-marketing various prototypes on friends and family members, culminating in the invention of the Belt Loopy, a clever reusable product for holding a belt in place that looks and feels like a belt loop. To protect her idea, Geneva filed an application for a patent on the device, which is still pending.

Geneva then set out to create practical and easy-to-use solutions to other annoying fashion challenges. She came up with the catchy brand name Fashionista Rx® and began marketing her subsequent inventions for the budget-conscious style guru. Among the Fashionista Rx line are a hook-and-loop fastening tape to adjust hemlines, a design-patented silicone heel adhesive (U.S. patent number D674587), and the Faux Paw lint brush and pet-hair remover (U.S. patent number D666835).

In order to speed her path to market, Geneva researched and developed strategies for overseeing all aspects of the operation, including prototype creation, manufacture, shipping, distribution, and marketing of each Fashionista Rx product. It wasn't always easy, but her perseverance paid off.

"I have never had a partner or outside investors, which forced me to become very creative when developing and marketing my products," noted Geneva. "As a result, I have learned to do everything on my own and wear many hats when it comes to business."

By taking charge of her own marketing and public relations, Geneva positioned her products to be featured on NBC's "Today Show" and in such national magazines as Real Simple and Woman's World.

Geneva is a firm believer in individuals having the ability to bring their products to market on their own. In June 2012, she shared her insights with an attentive audience at the United States Patent and Trademark Office's Texas Regional Independent Inventor Conference in Austin.

Geneva plans to develop a jewelry line aimed at a unique market niche. In addition, she's looking to expand her market reach beyond the United States. She is researching international law regarding intellectual property (IP) protection so that she can be sure her IP is safe from the prying hands of imitators. Geneva is also in the process of writing a book about her journey as an entrepreneur.

"I can't imagine what my life would be like if I hadn't taken that first leap of faith," said Geneva. "I literally wake up excited each morning to see what the day has in store. Everyone should be able to feel this way, and I encourage anyone who has a dream for a business to go for it!"

So the next time you have a great idea for the market, don't think "I could never do that"-just remember Geneva Grainger and ask, "Why not?"

Catherine Cain : Office of Trademark Legal Policy