Tara: What is Your name, invention name and website URL?
Rico Elmore, Fatheadz Eyewear, http://www.fatheadz.com/
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about where you are based, your background experience how you first started inventing?
Rico: Based out of Brownsburg, Ind. When I, a former auto dealership fleet manager decided I needed some stylish sunglasses for my honeymoon in 2004, I tried on 300 pairs of sunglasses in a Las Vegas store. There was one problem—I am six-foot-three, weigh 300-pounds and have a…well, big head. Three hundred pairs of sunglasses later, absolutely nothing fit. I was amazed at how much trouble I had buying a measly pair of sunglasses. So I started Fatheadz for people just like me: “people with fat heads,” as I so eloquently put it. The wacky business whim turned into a “full-figure” glasses company that’s hit over $2 million in sales.
Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?
Rico: After my honeymoon, I returned to Brownsburg, Ind., and started full-steam ahead on the idea. After I came up with the basic design idea for the spacious spectacles, several engineering firms turned me down because they didn’t see Fatheadz being successful. I eventually hired a product-engineering company and manufacturer that would turn my vision into a physical product of large proportions. Later, when it was time to patent his discovery, I ran into more trouble. Lawyers told me they couldn’t patent the size of the glasses, only their design.
Tara: Did you get presentation drawing sheets produced or make a prototype of your invention, how did you go about this?
Rico: The drawing started as sketches to start with and once we liked the styling then we would get cad drawings. The prototypes as well as the drawing all came from our factory that eventually started manufacturing these items.
Tara: Did you try and patent or protect your idea in any way and how did you go about it?
Rico: Yes we have several patents that protect some of our ideas. Design Patents, we use a intellectual property attorney in Indianapolis.
Tara: Did you always intend manufacturing your invention yourself or did you look into licensing the idea?
Tara: How did you go about finding a suitable manufacturer for your invention and did you self fund this?
Rico: It was very difficult just from the stand point that there is no book on how to find a good manufacture to partner with. Yes, self-funded. We finally were referred to a couple of good factories we could do business with.
Tara: What have you found are the best ways of promoting your invention?
Rico: We focus a lot on racing and on TV personalities. We have Darrell the Gambler Sheets from A&E’s storage wars and we have Christopher Big Black Boykin from MTV’s Rob and Big as well as Fantasy Factory. The promotion originally started at the grassroots stages in racing. This worked out well from the stand point of if our guys won they would and still do get out of the cars with their Fatheadz Fire suit on.
Tara: What were the most difficult elements of bringing your invention to market?
Rico: Finding good retail partners to help push your products.
Tara: How long has it taken from your initial idea to taking it to market?
Rico: Four years.
Tara: Is there anything you learned developing your invention that you would now do differently if you had to do it all again?
Rico: No, I think that it is all a good learning experience good and bad decisions. You finally learn not to make the bad ones as often.
Tara: What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?
RicoL Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done or that you will never make it. There are more people that find joy in you failing than you making it.
Tara: Where can people find out more about you your invention?
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