This is an interview with our client - MakeUp Miser®. MakeUp Miser is a cosmetic saving spatula device that saves a makeup user money by getting all the expensive makeup out of the bottle. You can view the MakeUp Miser website here: www.makeupmiser.com Michelle Phillips is the inventor. This is her story....
Speakers: Don Keller/Catalpha Packaging and Michelle Phillips -Inventor of MakeUp Miser
Don: OK - Michelle - please give me a little bit of a background on yourself. You don’t have to go into great detail, but I just want to give somebody else that doesn’t know your background on where you came from and then we’ll get into talking about your product and other things as well. So if you could start there...
Michelle: Okay. My background is that I actually never got a college degree, I went to college for way too long than I should have and never ended up with any degree. Got married, had two children, husband got into his own business. Then I actually became the bookkeeper for his business and it turned out to be a great business. The children grew up and I decided I didn’t want to do the bookkeeping any more because that wasn’t really what I ever set out to do, which was later become an esthetician. I loved make-up, I loved skin care and so I went back to school and I got my license as an esthetician in Pennsylvania, which is not that hard to do in the State of Pennsylvania, compared to Maryland. I think Maryland is like two years, Pennsylvania is very short.
I was in my 40s and I had already been around and around—I wouldn’t have become an esthetician if I hadn’t already have been really interested in make-up, skin care, and anti-aging. Then my goal, I remember, I don’t know who asked me, but I remember somewhere someone said, “What is your goal and what do you want to become?” Maybe it might have been my entrance into the school that I entered and I said, “I want to become the very best esthetician in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where I live.” I don’t know, it was interesting, so I began working in spas and I kind of moved up and moved up a little bit at a time and the one thing that kept coming back to me was all the women that I helped and my customers and my clients would say, “I’m just so frustrated because I have these super expensive bottles of skin care of this and that and the other and I can never finish them because there’s like this little bit at the bottom or on the sides and there’s no way to access the contents of the bottle.” I said, “Yeah, I have that same problem.” This was back even before the recession, so we were still concerned about losing all these precious drops at the sides and the bottom and the shoulders of the bottle.
I kept coming home and telling my husband; I had one lady come to the Este Lauder counter, I was actually the manager at Este Lauder at a department store and she said, “I’m never buying this product again because I love it, but I can’t get it. I pay $125 for this thing and I can never, ever get a big portion of the contents out of it.” She was angry with me because she thought I had some devious plot against her to take her money and not give her her product. I said, “I have the same problem, I’m just like you.”
I came home one night and I said, “I don’t know why somebody doesn’t invent a very tiny little silicone spatula, just like we do for the kitchen, but do it for like super tiny cosmetic bottles.” My husband said, “Well, why don’t you do it? You can do that!” I said, “Really? You think I could?” He goes, “Yeah, and I think the cool name for that would be the MakeUp Miser.” It just hit me and so several weeks, it might have been two months went by and I came back again, I was working at a counter and women were complaining, complaining about this problem, they could never get the contents out of the bottle they had paid so much for. I came back home and he goes, “Well, didn’t we talk about that before?” I said, “Yeah, I thought that was like the wine talking, like now, I don’t think it was.”
I began to talk to people and I had a client and I said, “What do you want to do when you want to invent something? She said, “Well, you have to find an engineer,” and I said, “What kind of an engineer?” She goes, “I don’t know, but you just have to find an engineer.” I remember spending hours on the phone in my local area in the Mid-Atlantic region, trying to find an engineer that was willing to sit down and draw something up. I did actually find someone in my local area. He was a molding company, he was an engineer, he was excited, and he actually was thrilled to help create a new invention. I spent a few hours with him and we went through several prototypes to come up with this perfect little spatula that would be able to go into small cosmetic bottles and have enough flexibility to scrape around the bottle. I went through about four or five prototypes before I found something that I thought would really work. I knew what I wanted and he was just a lovely person and finally got the drawing. I gave him certain examples, but he actually came up with the drawing, because he was the engineer.
As it turned out though, they really didn’t do the molds, they were going to give the molds to Taiwan and someone told me, “Don’t give the molds to Taiwan because it’s such a simple mold, what your product is is so simplistic, Taiwan will take it and sell it in Asia and they will steal your product out from under you.” Then I began to go on the hunt again, I tried to find somebody in my local region that would actually make the molds, because this company engineered or drew the drawings, but they wouldn’t make the molds. So I did, I found someone in Hershey, Pennsylvania, strangely enough. He said, “Yeah, we can do this.”
Don: That’s Great.
Michelle: So I paid a tremendous amount of money just to get the molds made in America because I was told, “Do not get this made in Asia, it will be copied instantly.” I was afraid of that and then I was also told I had to get a patent and I was also told by a lot of people that I had to secure my trademark, so I did all of the above. I secured my trademark, I applied for a patent, but I was given very bad advice and I was told to get not a design patent, like a utility patent.
Michelle: Yeah. I was given good and bad advice and I was such a novice, I was an esthetician that had an idea and the people that listened to my idea and the people I shared my idea with said, “This is phenomenal, Michelle, we all wanted this. If you can answer this problem for us, you’ll be a millionaire.” Well, it kind of went to my head and I thought if I build it, they will come. I also, unfortunately, designed my own packaging the original time. I found a man who went to my church—he’s actually a very rich man who actually has done a lot of logos and packaging for people, but he just didn’t know anything about cosmetics. He did a great logo, he did very poor packaging. It was pretty and it appealed to me as a woman, but I had no clue what I was dealing with in the retail market, so I was very clueless and I was very naïve. I spent a lot of money with him that I shouldn’t have.
I also began to realize that I couldn’t get this into stores as quickly as I wanted to. I thought it was going to just happen overnight and about a year into the thing, I contacted a couple, a married couple that were agents for cosmetics and they said they could do this. I couldn’t afford the big companies because they were over $100,000, but this company was $35,000, so I thought, okay, I could do it with then. It’s just one single product and they’ve given me a great history of their past, all the wonderful things they’ve done, and I didn’t even actually check into them. I believed them, I went and met with them, they seemed very real, they seemed very knowledgeable, and I just went on my intuition, which was a big mistake. They didn’t really know what was going on in the new world since the internet and they had done a lot of things in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but where we were at now, they really didn’t know how to do it, but they convinced me they could do it and actually I was very flattered because they said you have features and benefits to your product. I did, I had features and benefits, so if your product has both of those things, you could say, “Okay, there’s something sellable here.” I was the first person to ever come up with a flexible beauty spatula.
Long story short, they charged me $35,000, never did a thing for me. Other people came up behind me and copied me and got their product into stores and I was very hurt that I didn’t know how to do that, but I also worked a full-time job the entire time and I don’t know, I’m not really sure why it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, but I was always dealing with not quite sure where to go. Then when a recession hit, my husband lost his business, we didn’t have the money to put into the company that we needed to, so we were dealing with no income and how do you push a product without any income? You really have to have income. I think the main thing I would tell somebody that was going to have an invention, it’s you have to have more money to market your invention than even to create your invention.
Michelle: The marketing aspect of getting it out there and to the public is even more important almost because there’s a lot of poor products that are on the market, but they had the money behind them somewhere, someway to get it out onto the shelves. There’s a lot of wonderful products that may have never made it to the shelves because they didn’t have the marketing aspect.
You have to know what the buyer wants and you have to know who to trust and if you have one inkling of a feeling, I did, actually when I met with these people that asked me for $35,000, I actually did have some bad feelings, but I was so flattered by how they were telling me how wonderful my product was, I didn’t listen to those gut feelings that I had. Yeah, I didn’t listen to my heart or my soul or whatever part you want to listen to.
I had also sent my product to Oprah Winfrey, Rachael Ray, everybody in the business that had any kind of an audience to women. I sent them to Martha Stewart, to Ellen DeGeneres, to many of the talk shows.
Don: That’s great. So you were going after the popular names in hopes of them offering their support - is what you were trying to do?
Michelle: Yeah, so I did do that the first year I was manufactured. I guess that was 2009 and then in 2012, Martha Stewart actually mentioned something about my product and how she loved it on the Today show. She’d had since 2009 and I had gotten a thank you from her, but I just filed it away. That mention from her on the Today show caused a Twitter cascade and then she responded to all the people that were asking her about these makeup spatulas that she mentioned on the Today show, which she didn’t actually say the name, and then she said, “Oh, it’s MakeUp Miser.” That actually changed the face of where I was at the time and gave me the money to repackage because like I said, I had initially packaged with a man in town that I went to church with who had done a great logo, but he didn’t really know anything about packaging. When you’re going to do packaging, if you’re in cosmetic packaging, you’ve got to search out cosmetic packaging companies.
I also went to CVS and took pictures of all the packaging at CVS and at Walgreens, I mean, I looked and looked and looked and did a lot of homework that time, because I realized you can’t package the way that you think will work, you have to package the way kind of that the formula works, the current formula.
Don: The way stores want it?
Michelle: Yeah. So whatever the current formula is, you kind of have to pattern yourself as that, wherever you’re trying to get into.
So Martha Stewart’s tweet gave me that ability to repackage and then I did have a man in Germany call me and was very interested in me, he said that the European market was very conservative as far as wanting, you know, very frugal, wanted all of the drops out of their makeup and his wife thought it was great, so he bought in.
It still hasn’t made it, but I have had QVC offer me an opportunity to not necessarily be on the air, but they said, “We’ll put it on our website, but in order to put it on our website, you’ll have to give us $3,000.” That was interesting to me because I have had it on several websites, I have sent it out to a lot of bloggers. I think my best days have been when I found out and I would Google top cosmetic bloggers and I would get a list and I would send this list of top cosmetic bloggers out and say, “I’m Michelle Phillips, I’m an esthetician and I created the Makeup Miser and this is what it does.” They will write me back and they’ll say, “I would love to review your product, send us a sample.” That actually has been more productive for me than anything so far.
The $35,000 I spent with the man who said he was going to put me on the shelves of stores didn’t do a thing for me and that unfortunately was a little bit of a downfall because I believed him and I was very naïve. I didn’t understand the world in which I was getting into. The cosmetic retail world is a very competitive world and you’ve go to kind of be a little savvy. I’ve learned more by mistakes than I have by my successes, but what’s interesting, I just recently had a blogger write me and she said, “Your product is amazing, I have saved a ton of money already with all my cosmetics, why aren’t you on Shark Tank? Why aren’t you on QVC? Why aren’t you here, why aren’t you there?” I told her, I said, “Well, I had a copier who went to Shark Tank and I tried to get on Shark Tank and I was not accepted but I wasn’t funny and I wasn’t clever, I guess, and the girl that got on there didn’t have as good of a product, but she was a little more TV entertainment.” But she hasn’t hurt me. Actually people have written me and said it caused me to look into this and I want your product now. So just the fact that there’s other people out there now trying to do what I’m doing, it’s given credibility to even the tool itself, to say there’s worthiness here. There’s other people creating other tools to do this, although I still feel mine still works the best.
Don: Have you ever considered going to some cosmetic shows in New York or Vegas? I think there’s CosmoProf?
Michelle: The only thing I would say about that, I went to CosmoProf in Los Angeles and it was about, to get me there, to buy the booth, to fly there, to stay in a hotel, it was about $6,000, just to do the investment of what it took. If you’ve got that kind of capital, absolutely. If you’ve got a good booth, if you’ve got a good packager, if you’ve got the…what’s the word I’m trying to say?
Michelle: Well, if you’ve got the right publicity campaign, you shouldn’t go if you haven’t got the right brochures. You should have brochures, you should have a good display—whatever you’re doing, it has to be displayed properly, but that means you’ve got to go and find the right people to do that and that’s another thing. I had found a man through the people that charge me $35,000 to use their display man. I found out later that he overcharged me and he caused me to pay way too much money for an inferior display. I found out later through mistakes and through finding out that I could have done it much more economical.
But I was, like I said, I was an esthetician, I was just a woman who had a great idea and I really believed in the “if you build it they will come.” You have to do a lot more homework, you have to look at your competition, you have to look at your competition, you have to look at what their price point is, and you have to look at their packaging, you have to look at who’s buying. You also need a couple of good breaks. I would say many people that invent wonderful ideas may not find that break, but you also have to be just diligent and believe passionately in what you’re doing because I’ve been doing this since 2009 and it’s 2014 and I’m still doing it and I still believe in it. I still believe since Martha Stewart said, “Yes, it’s a great product,” and I have several online stores that have bought it now for three or four years that keep buying. In fact, I just had Miles Kimball, who buys my product, who met me at CosmoProf, they’ve bought me now for several years and they keep buying faithfully and they just sent me an email and said, “We’re sold out, please send us more.”
Don: Great! How do they operate, is that online or is that with a catalog?
Michelle: It’s both.
Don: Okay. I kind of remember a catalog at one time, but that could be old school.
Michelle: Well, Miles Kimball kind of deals with an older generation. I would say it’s an older woman and their catalog is called As We Change. My demographic is typically 35 - 45 and up. These are the women that buy cosmetics, they are the women that have the disposable income and buy the high-end cosmetics and want to get every drop out of them. The younger women are coming up, they’re coming there. I wish I knew what it took to find that magic key to get in the door, but I believe that my product is so good and I’ve got such faithful followers and I’m so passionate because when I made the prototypes, I kept trying and trying to get the perfect product, because it was my profession and I wasn’t just looking to make money, I was looking to solve a problem. If your heart and your motivation is to solve a problem and you know you solved it, then you know you’ve got a problem worthy of keeping your heart into it and keeping that pursuit.
If all I was looking for was to make money, I probably would have given up a long time ago, but my motivation was to solve my clients’ problem, they said, “I can’t get to the bottom, I can’t get to the sides,” and I couldn’t either. I thought, why do we buy a spatula with our jar of mayonnaise in the kitchen and the jar of mayonnaise is $5-6 and it’s a big jar, it’s a 32-ounce jar, and we scrape that thing until we wipe it clean and then we throw it away. Why is it that we are not allowed to do that with $120 bottle of a 1-ounce serum or a $50 bottle of a 1.5-ounce foundation? Who is it that decided these rules? I decided to break the rules and I decided I’m going to create a spatula because that’s all we need, that’s all we need. We need to just break the rules, get a spatula out there and scrape that little guy clean. I had women tell me they took a hammer and broken their bottle just to get into it. They knew they could only get one little drop out of it, but that’s how angry they were. “I’m really pissed off! I can’t get this last drop!” It was so funny.
You know, I haven’t made much money off of it, to tell you the truth. I mean, I’ve made a little bit, but not significant, not the amount that I’ve invested in it, but yet I don’t regret it one bit because I did something, I took an idea, I had a passion about it, and I still do. The fact that Martha Stewart…
Don: Validated you.
Michelle: Endorsed me and validated me and said, “This is fabulous, I love these things.” She only likes good stuff, she really only likes good stuff. The women that write me letters and say, “This is phenomenal, I didn’t know I could get all of these extra days and weeks out of this bottle and I paid so much money for it.” We used to brag in the ‘80s about how much money we spent and now in the 2000’s we brag about how much money we save. It’s a timely product and the fact that I’ve been copied, just validates me even more.
Don: That’s great. Quite a story, like you said, it’s been five years now. It seems like it’s been longer, but not that I’ve known you since 2009, but it’s been a couple years at least now.
Michelle: Yeah. Well, then it’s funny, when I decided I had to repackage after Martha Stewart’s tweet, it catapulted my sales up to the form where I could repackage to proper packaging, which I did a lot of Google. Basically, I didn’t know anybody and nobody in my world knew anybody, so I Googled and Googled and in cosmetic packaging, cosmetic retail packaging, and actually, and I found you in Towson, Maryland, which was a drivable distance and I knew I would never, ever do anything again with anybody that I couldn't just be within drivable distance because I didn’t have the kind of money to fly across the country and do things. Then I met you and you had won all these awards and I looked at your history and I looked at the products you had done, and that’s the thing I would say, if you’re going to hire anybody, make sure you’ve looked at the products they’ve done. Make sure you’ve looked at what they have accomplished in recent years, not in past years, and don’t just be flattered, because a new inventor is so easily flattered by like, “Oh, this is fabulous, you’re so wonderful, oh we can do this,” and that’s what you want to hear, of course you want to hear that. But you need to really be very savvy and not pay any attention to flattery and look at what people have done and what they do and don’t go to somebody who does not know your world. If you’re in sports or if you’re in cosmetics, or if you’re in tools, it’s like go to somebody who’s actually done something in your world before and they have knowledge of that because you’ve got to have somebody who’s worked in that world before.
I found you and you were lovely and I got the thing repackaged and we went through a few designs and I changed it and it was like, “Michelle, you’re really going overboard here, and it’s like, “Yeah, just charge me the extra $500, I don’t care.” It’s like I’m not happy with this either. It was like, I didn’t know what I wanted, I just knew when I saw it and I had gone to CVS, I had gone to Walgreens, and I compared, compared, compared, and so I was actually looking for something to compete within the current market. I would say if you’re not a professional in the market, you’ve got to at least know what the competition is. You’ve got to know what the price points are, you’ve got to know what they sell for, and a buyer wants to know that you know that. A buyer doesn’t really care how wonderful your product works, they care about if you’re in the right price point, they care about if it fits in with their store, if it’s the right size, and I had to get my packaging down to the right size, I believed, that would hang on a hook or be put in a display and I to work within the store’s parameters. I still haven’t gotten into stores, but I have the right product now and I have the right packaging now where I’m ready to compete in that world.
Don: Ready to make a few more ventures back at the buyers? I mean, it sounds like you’ve talked to a few.
Michelle: You know, to be honest, my personal life has been really crazy. My husband’s business fell apart in the recession and so we’ve been dependent a lot on my income and my own personal job. We had a new administrator come in to where I work and she’s let half the people go and I’ve gotten a new job, and then my son’s business, the bookkeeper walked out and she didn’t do any of her work for the last three or four months and I’ve been working two jobs and then MakeUp Miser. I’m not trying to make myself into some super hero here, but I have been doing like three jobs. Then I’m a grandma and I’m 58 years old and I’m just trying to handle about five different things all at once and juggle about 5 different balls.
I’m not giving up on the MakeUp Miser, it is still there and it’s actually growing. I just recently had a blogger who just fell in love with the product and wrote me back and she goes, “Why is it that your product isn’t in Wal-Mart and this other lady’s is? Why is it that your product isn’t in Bed, Bath and Beyond and this other lady’s product is? Why aren’t you on Shark Tank because your product is ten times better?” I just wrote her and I said, “I’m not really sure, but I have had to work other jobs at the same time and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I wasn’t on Shark Tank, you’re right. Maybe I missed some secret ingredient that I’m not sure about.” She’s from Texas and she’s got quite a few followers on her blog and she’s taken me kind of under her wing and she’s decided to just promote me with very, very little like output on my part. I let her and we have shared so many emails, it’s like, “Yeah, sure, if you want to do this, go right ahead and I’ll give you what I can.” She’s like, “Yeah, I really want to become like a blogger, I want to become a promoter, I want to do social media, I want this, I want that,” and her price point was pretty, significantly lower than the regular business’s price points. Actually she spends the time, she was on Facebook last night posing as me and talking to all these women, just over and over and over and I could never do that. I’ve worked all day. So she’s kind of posing as me and she’s my social media girl right now and we’ll see where it goes.
Don: OK - that sounds fortunate that you found her.
Michelle: She would sit and there say, “Tell me about yourself, this is great, what kind of skin care do you like?” and she’s just creating conversation. Now we’ll see where that goes and I did know since she did the blog on me that my sales rose and my Facebook percentages rose 2000%. I got my Facebook, you know, how do they do that, once a week or once every two weeks where they send you what your stats are, it was up 2000%! [Laughs] It was crazy. But she just really wants to do this, yeah.
Don: Well, yeah, finding the right people to do that at the price you can afford, so hopefully that will continue in the right direction, that’s good to hear.
Michelle: Well, we’ll see. I only gave her two months and we did it at a very reasonable price point for me and she was like, “Well, this will be good for me because I need the experience,” so it’s like, okay. Yeah, and I’m not trying to take advantage of anybody, but she actually made the offer, so I said, “Okay, sure, that’s great, I’ll do that with you and we’ll see how it goes.” At any point, she said, if you don’t like what I write or if you don’t like what I do, just write me and tell me. She seems very honest and open. You do, after a few years, get a feel about people and you have to work with people that in your field and she’s in the cosmetics field, she’s an esthetician herself, she’s a makeup artist herself, but she’s trying to break into the social media thing, so I’m letting her do that for me.
It’s in progress, I can’t say that I have found the key. The perfect scenario for me would be for Martha Stewart to endorse skin care or something more in a cosmetic realm instead of just arts and crafts and the fact that she’s already claimed the MakeUp Miser is one of her favorite things, just incorporate that. I mean, I would totally put her name on the handle, if she wanted.
And Avon, Avon looked at me and has looked at me for two years and they’ve been through so much in flux with their income and with their company and with the changes in their company, the one person that was really vying for me left the company, so that kind of fell through.
Don: That’s too bad.
Michelle: You can’t let anything get you too upset and you can’t let anything get you too excited because if you live in that up and down world, you’ll never make it, you have to be really kind of cool about the disappointments and about the rewards. You’ve got to just kind of hang in there and believe that it’s going to work itself out. For me right now the bloggers have been the best thing. They get a free sample and they blog about it and then you’ll see cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching on the website, because somebody loved it and they blogged about it, and then all these buyers jump on. That’s been, so far, my best situation because I’ve sent many, many free samples and I’ve even had some YouTube video demonstrations, which has been great.
Michelle: There’s people in New York that have asked me to give them $10,000 and they’ll send it to the right person and they’ll make it go, but I just haven’t had $10,000.
Don: Yeah. Everybody’s got a price.
Michelle: I don’t know if they really could or if they really couldn’t. I’m not really sure, but I’ve decided that I gave $35,000 away and I’ll never do that again. You’ve got to really look good and have some great history and have some great promise almost behind you. I’m not sure, that was probably the hardest thing about this whole venture, was giving $35,000 away and then getting nothing for it and believing that somebody was going to take me—and they promised me the world. They promised me QVC, they promised me stores, they promised me Sally’s Beauty Supply, they promised me CVS, they promised me everything. I believed them and it did not, they never sold one set, they never a set for me. It was all a pipe dream and I swallowed it hook, line, and sinker and so therefore I have to be very careful now. Even when QVC comes to me and says, “We’ll put you on our website but you need to give us $3,000 first to create a home page,” I can’t do that either. I don’t really know what that home page will gather for me.
Michelle: I’m not convinced that QVC is going to give me even $3,000 back, even give me back my investment.
Don: One page out of the thousands that are on their site, probably.
Michelle: Exactly, exactly. I’m not even sure and so I had to turn them down. They were very gracious and I said, “I am so sorry, but I’m a very small business and I cannot invest $3,000 with you just for a page on your website. That gives me really no assurance,” and they were fine and they said, “That’s fine.” I said, “But if in the future that I have this kind of capital that I can put, I hope I can come back to you and I hope I can initiate this again,” and they said, “Absolutely. What’s good now is good for tomorrow.” So I didn’t burn my bridges, I just left it open-ended and they were gracious and I was gracious and I don’t have an attitude with anybody, I just have to be aware of what am I willing to lose, because if I’m willing to give $3,000 away, that means I’m willing to lose $3,000. If I only have $8,000 in my bank account, then I’m really not willing to lose $3,000—yet.
Don: If somebody is reading this article, where can they find you at? Where can they find your product?
Don: Okay. Well, hopefully we get some more site visitors from what we’re doing today and I appreciate you talking about your business, that is very helpful, I’m sure, to many people that come to our site that have similar products and stories. Possibly in the cosmetic world and I’m sure they would enjoy hearing what you’ve been through. So I really do appreciate you talking to me, it’s very nice of you.
Michelle: Well, you know, Don. You’ve been nice to me, I loved what you did with my packaging, I’m so proud of that, I’m still waiting to get some buyer to give me the okay to get that display unit going. But honestly, I’ll tell you the truth since before Christmas, I’ve had to kind of take care of immediate needs, immediate job needs, immediate this, immediate that, and so it is, it’s a work in progress. I am not able to spend a full-time job. If I was able to maybe just spend a full-time job on this thing, I might have already been there and I might regret it some day that I didn’t do that, but there’s bills that have to be paid today and there is so much that has to be taken care of today, I haven’t seen that happen yet in my life.
We’ll see. But if I died tomorrow, I would never, ever regret inventing the MakeUp Miser because very few people take an idea and build it to that point of just an actual product in hand that you can hold and touch. I’ve had so many people on Amazon and on my own personal website, and even from the buyers that have bought me online, like Miles Kimball and Derm Store and things like that, they buy from me consistently and they go, “We’re all sold out, send us more.” So I know it’s a product worth buying, I know it meets a need and as long as I know that I solved a problem, I never have anything to be ashamed of. I’ve still got food on the table and clothes on my back, and the heat and the air conditioner is still on. So it hasn’t taken me, it didn’t take me down, it just took me back a little bit. But I’m still believing it’s going to take me forward.
What it’s taught my character—put this in your article—what it’s taught me as a person has been just as important as what has taught me as a business person. It’s not just about money, it’s about who I am, it’s taught me about my character. It’s taught me about my persistence. It’s taught me you never give up. You never give up. I know there were many times when I thought, “What’s the use?” But yet I would wake up the next morning and somebody would send me an email and say, “Oh my god, I love this product, it didn’t bring peace to the world but it gave me three more weeks out of my foundation.” It was like this is why I don’t give up, because it’s worthy, everybody in America that buys cosmetics is deserving of having this. They deserve to have it and it’s not costly and that’s what keeps me going. It won’t bring peace to the world but it solves a little problem. I’m just a little bit of what makes America good, I guess.
Don: That is another thing, you did the majority of your work here in the States, didn’t you?
Michelle: I did 100% of it, 100%, everything I did was in America, I refused to go to China, I refused to go to Asia. I just wanted to give everybody in America the opportunity to do what they could do for me and for their company. Yeah, I will always stay in America. As long as I’m an American, I will stay in America because we need to go back there, we need to go back. If we were self-sufficient and doing more of what we used to do, we wouldn’t feel so vulnerable. I don’t know if that’s possible, but in my world, in my little niche, yeah, it was possible. What’s fortunate is like I was able to find it all within my own state, and actually within Maryland, too, so within two states. Yeah, so Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Don: Within 50 miles or so.
Michelle: Yeah, yeah, within 50 miles, I was able to do everything within 50 and 60 miles on the East Coast, which made me so happy because I was talking English and I didn’t have the money to fly to Asia, I didn’t have the money to deal with that and the fear factor that it involved because my spatula is very simple, it’s not like software, it’s not like high technology, it’s super simple. It was best for me to protect my own interests, and I’ve still been copied—but not very good. [Laughs]
Don: Yeah. I’ve seen the competition’s, not as good.
Michelle: Thank you! Thank you! All right, are we done here?
Don: Yeah, I think we’re good and again, I really appreciate you talking with me, you’ve been very open and like I said, I’m sure this will be of interest to many people that stop by our site.
Michelle: That’s cool.
Don: Hopefully we can drive a few more people your way and make a few more sales.
Michelle: Well, that’s cool. Well, I actually like you as a man and as a person and you were so kind and patient with me that day at the photo shoot. We spend the whole day for like four shots or something, it was crazy. I don’t know, I just got to really like you and you’re a little mysterious, but I still like you anyway.
Don: Well, thank you.
Michelle: So yeah, I have nothing to hide, I decided a few years ago that I don’t live in any kind of a secretive world, so whatever I say, I’m willing to stand behind. I don’t think I have anything to hide, so yeah, go ahead and let me know where, send me that blog and I’ll be anxious to see how you interpreted this interview.
Don: I’m going to hopefully, if this recording works well, I’ll be interpreting it pretty much word for word. I’ll edit a little bit and send you a link and keep you up to date.
If you like this article, you may able be interested in this interview with another inventor: http://blog.catalpha.com/a-tale-of-taking-a-product-to-market