Within the time span of a few days Tomima invented the #1 selling hair accessory in history!
The lady who turned the invention and marketing world upside down & showed everyone how to become a millionaire.
The idea of inventing a new or novel product and going on to profit millions of dollars from your invention is an alluring possibility that occupies the minds of and thoughts of many future inventors. While the journey to those millions of dollars will never be as simple as one envisions, others have proven that it can be done.
How do you become a millionaire? Invent a simple product and market it to $120 million in sales!
When it comes to inventing a simple- no tech product, that went on to reach over $120 million in sales, one product and its inventor are legendary. It is invention success stories such as these that continue to fuel the imagination and hope of aspiring inventors and millionaires, young and old alike.
Enter Tomima Edmark- Entreprenuer-Inventor-Business Woman
Born in Seattle Washington 1957 Tomima Edmark went on to attended Stephens College in Columbia Missouri where she obtained a BA degree, and later the Texas University at Austin where she obtained an MBA in 1983. In 1989 Tomima (sounds like Jemima but with a "T") was working as a marketing executive for IBM when she became just a little frustrated with the limited mobility of her position. She began looking for ways to replace her corporate income and strike out on her own.
To be exact, Tomima started brainstorming ideas for new products that she could invent. One day while in a movie theater she happened to focus on a French Twist hair style being worn by another patron of the theater. Tomima thought that other women would probably appreciate a product or hair accessory which would allow them to easily create similar intricate hair styles.
The Million Dollar Hair Invention
Armed with nothing more than an idea and belief in herself, Tomima went home and started experimenting with anything around the house she could get her hands on. Some of the first items she recruited in her design efforts were a couple of knitting needles and some masking tape. Within a few days she had developed a simple product, sort of a loop with a tail, which would allow her to turn any pony tail inside out thus creating a whole new attractive look.
Tomima went on to perfect four different prototypes of the invention which she now dubbed "Topsy Tail™." By 1991 she had applied for and received patent protection for her new product. Now she would put her marketing education and experience to work getting Topsy Tail ™ in front of customers.
Marketing The Topsy Tail ™ hair invention
Tomima began by advertising the Topsy Tail in various hair styling magazines as well as a number of women's fashion magazines. One of her marketing priorities was to get the Topsy Tail on the pages of Glamour Magazine, she was successful. Within months of the launch her novel hair product was in the hands of customers and teenage girls all across the country. By the end of 1992 she had already sold millions of units, and was still running the whole business out of her garage.
Marketing Gone Wild
Tomima eventually began working with a company called Accessory Brainstorms to get the product in department stores nationwide. Currently the product was available from Tomima or in a number of boutiques. The one department store that declined to carry the product was Bloomingdales who stated that the Topsy Tail did not fit into their product mix. Bloomingdales later changed their mind and placed a number of urgent phone calls to Accessory Brainstorms once the Topsy Tail hit star status.
The crazy success happened when Tomima struck a deal with a Direct Response TV advertising & marketing company to give the Topsy Tail its own television commercial. In fact the Topsy Tail would be the first hair accessory ever to have its own commercial on TV. The deal with the DRTV marketing company would allow Tomima to move the business out of her garage, let her maintain oversight of quality control while the DRTV company took over production, advertising and worldwide distribution.
In a little over a year from the time the Topsy Tail hit the airwaves, the low-tech hair invention hit over $100 million in sales. To date Topsy Tail has reached over $150 million in sales and is still available at Amazon.com and other retailers. Tomima recently came out with a Topsy Tail Jr., a smaller version of the original.
The Topsy Tail is the uncontested best selling hair invention product in history.
Tomima the Business Woman now Millionaire
Today Tomima admits that the Topsy Tail was probably a one hit wonder, a perfect storm of luck, opportunity, timing, and marketing. Not content to set back and relax Tomima has continued on a course of entrepreneurship since her first invention 20 some years ago. Tomima has written 12 books on subjects such as kissing, romance, gender studies and even cigars. She has gone on to invent other products such as the Bowrette- a barrette that turns scarfs and ribbons into hair ornaments, and the Halo Hat a collapsible sun-rain hat. One invention that showed promise but was eventually abandoned was a kissing machine, which used low voltage electricity to enhance the kiss.
Tomima eventually founded the online lingirie business Herroom.com and later Hisroom.com. Both are owned by her company Andra Group LP, based in Dallas Texas. Herroom.com is currently the largest woman owned- online lingerie retailer today. Tomima has been featured on Good Morning America, Oprah, Forbes Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. In February of 2001 Tomima was featured as inventor of the week on by Mit.edu.
The internet is full of websites hawking their invention services (beware), as well as invention and patent experts warning of the perils and difficulty of profiting from an invention. However, it is people like Tomima Edmark who prove that you can profit from even a low tech invention or product, and it can most definitely be a worthwhile endeavor.