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Million-Dollar Idea: Reading Glasses That Really Double As A Headband

[ 0 ] Jun. 19, 2013 | SBO Editor

“I had 17 pairs of readers,” said entrepreneur Kelly Coty, “but I could never find a pair when I needed them. And the ones I could find, were all stretched out or broken, because they’re not actually designed to be worn on your head! The hairband had been on my head all day and never fell off once. And that was my “Aha” moment! I thought someone needs to figure out how to put a pair of readers into a hairband!

It was 2008 and, as the recession hit, home sales were beginning to plummet. Realtors were less likely to suggest that a homeowner invest money into staging a property that could end up sitting unsold. And Kelly, who was 44 at the time, was thinking that she really didn’t want to be making her living by moving around furniture when she turned 50.

“I started Googling to see if there was a patent on my idea. I searched for six hours. And then I paid an attorney to search. And that’s when I decided I was going to figure out how to make them myself. But I had absolutely no idea how readers even worked. Was it the plastic or the shape that magnified things? So I did a lot of research and when I read that there’s a muscle in our eyes that begins to loosen around 40 — the muscle that effects focus — that’s when I realized how big the market could be for these.”

So, Kelly went to work right at her kitchen table. She took her daughter’s hairband and flattened it, traced it onto a piece of paper and then cut it out — creating a stencil of what the hairband would look like flat. She took that to a local supply store, picked up ten pieces of plastic and went straight back to her kitchen where she put them in the oven to melt, until they were pliable.

“I had a few seconds,” Kelly explained, “before they hardened again, so out of ten tries, I got one good example of the way I thought my hairband readers should look. I took pictures and started sending them out to people who I thought could help.”

Kelly called dozens of manufacturers and was told time and time again, how expensive it would be to create a mold and that her hairband readers would never pass the drop ball test — a trial used to be sure that glasses won’t shatter in front of someone’s eyes. But persistence paid off. There was one manufacturer who understood her vision and, after several attempts, sent her a hinge-free design almost exactly like the one she had envisioned. The company is called Lookie Lous.

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Category: Features