I dedicated a recent blog to a topic that is increasingly frightening to the inventing community: how are we, the inventing community, going to prevail despite the failing economy? In this blog, I offered some words of inspiration and encouragement. But I want you to hear and understand that our struggling economy isn’t a reason we have to struggle from one of your own peers. In a recent interview, independent inventor Lisa Lloyd and I discussed her new product , how she plans to bring it to market despite the economy, and the ways in which our current state of affairs are actually benefitting her.
Lloyd has designed a line of plush products called “Treasure Chest Pets”. The stuffed animals function as toys, storage devices, and pillows. She’s confident that her product is going to do well, and I believe her because I saw the product at a toy fair and loved it too. This is the first time Lloyd has decided to bring a product to market herself. Why the change?
“In the past, I’ve licensed products. Building a company is exciting and allows me to have so much more control. My hair care products were too individual to create an entire company around – I would need to have designed an entire line to do so, and several existing companies dominate that market. But the plush market is so large, it’s easier to make a small dent and provide for a lifestyle. I plan on continuing to add to the line for years,” added Lloyd.
The product might be wonderful, but is it a wonderful time to bring out any new product?
“Timing plays an important role in any product’s life. But I wouldn’t say that the current economy is going to prevent our product from achieving success. We have been cautious though, and made sure not to get into debt. We have a margin for error – we can wait it out without going broke before,” Lloyd explained.
But really, as far as expansion is concerned, are potential customers open? Are they willing to look at new items? And if so, how does Lloyd position herself to them?
“Large retailers, such as Mervyns and Kmart, are definitely struggling. There are canceled orders and higher rate of returns. But I don’t have that problem. I am selling to independents, to boutique owners and specialty stores. And actually, when large retailers close or struggle, local boutiques pick up business. My customers aren’t feeling the crunch as strongly.”
What advice does Lloyd have for all inventors, in a good or bad economy?
“The biggest mistake I’ve seen former clients make again and again is that if they have money, they spend it. They hire the best designers and stock an entire warehouse full of product before they’ve secured customers to sell it to. That’s a backwards strategy. When you don’t have finances, you’re lean and mean. Taking smaller risks will result in the highest rate of returns. Even if you do have the resources – act as if every dime you’re spending is coming out of your retirement fund. Be wise and prudent in every economy. If our economy today makes you think twice before you spend any money, well, that’s how you should be living anyway.”