Monday, November 9, 2009

Inventor Showcase: Ficklets


We are so excited to have the amazing Ros Guerrero and her invention called Ficklets, Eyewear Charm Huggers, available on Womentorz. Her product has been featured in Parents and Celebrity Parents Magazines to name a few. I wish her product was available when I was a child wearing glasses. Her invention is bringing self esteem to kids across the nation. No more four eyes name calling! Now kids will wish they were all wearing glasses! Here's an interview to give you even more insight into this amazing invention and inventor:

Q: Tell us a bit about your business and the inspiration behind it.
I call it my “couch potato” idea because I was literally sitting on my couch watching TV when my daughter walked in the kitchen behind the breakfast counter and the only part of her I could see were her eyes and her eyeglasses and thought, “wow, time to add some color and life to your old, boring eyeglasses”. This I believe was my “a-ha” moment.

I created a product called Ficklets, interchangeable eye wear charm huggers. I came up with the idea couple years ago for my daughter, Gem, as a way to jazz up her old eyeglass frames to give them a fresh, fashionable and unique look. After producing a working charm, Gem wore the eyewear charms to school. Her teacher wrote a note home that day describing how much attention Gem received about her glasses and how everyone thought they were so cool. This is when I thought, hmm… I really think I should run with this. I later came up with the name Ficklets, derived from the word “fickle”, unpredictable change or changeable, which appropriately described how much fun we had changing out her charms to coordinate with her outfits or occasion.

In addition to Gem being the direct inspiration behind Ficklets, she is also the main reason for my entrepreneurial drive to build a successful business. Gem is mentally handicapped and understanding her limited opportunities, it’s one of my missions to build a successful business that would create the opportunities for her as well as a business that will provide a quality life long after I’m gone.

It’s exciting and fulfilling to build a business that allows me to be creative and productive with a purpose and I’m grateful to Gem for inspiring me to grow as a mom, woman and an entrepreneur.

Q: How long did it take for you to go from idea to business launch and reality?
The initial concept was born in early 2006, developed a working prototype latter part of that year. Filed our provisional patent application and launched our website in April 2007. Our Patent was granted in September 2009.

Q: What were your business start-up costs and how long did it take for you to become profitable?
Our initial start-up was minimal and gradually invested more as we continued to ramp up marketing and PR efforts and attended our first tradeshow. We’re still in the building stage, thus continue to reinvest back into the business.

Q: How did you finance your business (personal contributions, loans from friends & family, loans from bank, credit cards, outside investors?).
Our initial start-up cost was from personal savings.

Q: What are a few of your marketing and PR strategies for getting the word out about Ficklets?
Initially attended a vision trade show, but with a limited marketing budget, I focus my main marketing and PR efforts working with bloggers, pitching directly to the media, obtained a “low-cost” public relations company to expand PR efforts for a short period, and most recently listed with a new and pioneering company called Womentorz.com, an e-commerce site that essentially allows inventors to set up an online store and provides an ongoing PR and marketing campaign at an affordable membership fee. For start-ups and unknown inventors with limited capital, Womentorz.com is a godsend providing a venue for distribution and marketing, two main issues new entrepreneurs struggle with. The extra bonus of Womentorz.com is being a part of a community that offers support, leadership and camaraderie from both the founders and fellow women inventors. The founders are inventors themselves, so they truly understand the struggles and challenges entrepreneurs face. Inventors will discover Womentorz.com is like no other, a business with heart and a champion for your success.

Q: What has been a major challenge for you and how did you overcome it?
I think the ongoing challenge is gaining exposure and building brand awareness especially on a limited budget. Most of my efforts at this point in the business are focused on PR and marketing and because we’re working with a restrictive budget, it’s crucial to find creative ways to get the word out. Womentorz.com makes it possible for inventors to distribute and market their ideas at an affordable cost. They provide a state of the art e-commerce site along with ongoing PR/marketing campaign—both projects that typically fall short for most start-ups. Womentorz.com provides both services eliminating the challenge and struggle, thus freeing up inventors and entrepreneurs to focus their efforts on creating and bringing their ideas to life.

Q: Is there a resource that proved to be invaluable that you would like to share with other Mom Entrepreneurs?
I have a few resources that I stay plugged into:
1. Womentorz.com – State of the art e-commerce site for inventors to distribute and market their ideas at a low membership fee.
2. The Mogul Mom blog/Heather Allard – Resource site and business coach for mom entrepreneurs.
3. HARO – Connects media leads with sources. Great site for the DIY PR entrepreneur.
3. Buzz Cooperative – Connects influential bloggers and entrepreneurs.

Although, The Big Idea show is currently off the air, it still deserves a mention. I was a huge, loyal and avid fan of The Big Idea hosted by Donny Deutsch and faithfully watched the show every evening. TBI was not only entertaining, but Donny was a big inspiration and champion for entrepreneurs. He has the charisma to instill the belief that you truly have what it takes to make your dreams come true. More than that, he is a knowledgeable businessman, honest, humble and down to earth kind of guy, so it was easy to relate to him on both a business and personal level. My favorite part of TBI, were the guest entrepreneurs and listening to their stories. I found their stories to be inspiring, enlightening and educational. One of the specific things I learned from most of the guests is that making mistakes is all a part of business and despite the blunders and stumbles you make along the way, success is still possible. Unfortunately, because of the current economic climate and how the show’s theme may not fit in today’s business environment, TBI is temporarily on hiatus. I hope to see TBI back in action real soon… with the current dismal economic tone, TBI would provide entrepreneurs the much needed inspiration, knowledge and guidance with a twist of entertainment value for added fun.

Q: How have you managed to juggle the roles of business owner, mom, wife, etc?
This was years in the making. Since learning about my daughter’s mental disability at the age of three years, I have been on a mission to build a life of normalcy for Gem. Understanding from the beginning that Gem’s opportunities would be limited based on society’s standards, it was up to me to create the opportunities for her. This is when I believe my entrepreneurial spirit was born. To create the opportunities I wanted for Gem, I knew I needed to own my own business. With this seed planted, over the span of eight years I periodically discussed with my husband, Roy, about starting a business someday when Gem was older and he was living at home full-time from working abroad. I would discuss thoroughly our roles and what it was going to require from both of us, both personally and professionally. I believed it was vital that my husband understood completely the purpose behind my desire to start a business in order to make it work, which was clear and what we both wanted ultimately – to create opportunities for Gem and build a business that would provide a quality life for her long after we’re gone.

While Roy worked abroad, I dabbled in various ventures in my search for a business to build – real estate, co-owned a window treatment design and nail salon business. It was by accident that I stumbled across the Ficklets idea and since then my business passion has soared like never before… this is when I knew, this was “IT”. And who knew Gem would be the direct inspiration behind the concept as she is the very reason for my desire to get into business in the first place.

With Roy at home full-time, I am able to devote more time and energy to building and growing our business. We work as a team and understand well our roles in both business and in our home life. In the business, my husband Roy handles the administrative and technology aspects and in our home, Roy handles a majority of the home care responsibilities and most importantly, shares equal responsibilities in attending to Gem’s daily needs. His role is highly crucial in keeping both entities moving forward and has been instrumental to the growth of our business as well as my personal growth as a mom, wife and entrepreneur. I’m grateful to my husband for supporting my entrepreneurial passion and allowing himself to open his mind and dream along side me.

Q: What advice do you have for new Mompreneurs?
DREAM… and then take ACTION! Never stop growing and evolving as an individual, be a student of life with an open mind and can-do attitude, be a perpetual inspirational seeker, and always, always be grateful for the blessings in your life.

Praise and Blessings to your success!
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