Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about where you are based, your background experience how you first started inventing?
I took out my first patent in my early twenties which was a hair fringe attached to a hair band, called Fringe Benefits. I manufactured and launched the product in Selfridges and in Bloomingdales soon afterwards. At that time, I was an actress and it was decided it would be best to keep my hair simple and long with no fringe. Yearning for a way to get rid of my boring hairstyle, I came up with this idea which was initially supposed to be used just for me! Then I thought I would license it and went from wig company to wig company, but with no success. At that time were so few wig companies as fake hair was for old ladies! They were not the fashion accessories they are today – but nobody would take me seriously. So in the end, I found a business partner and we flew to Hong Kong where we met with an agent who then introduced us to factories in HK and China and had the hairpieces made ourselves.
Shelley-Anne was a very successful lawyer – and the first fashion / commercial lawyer working with some of the big fashion names like Jimmy Choo. Another expertise was intellectual property and putting clients together.
Together, we invented the Linziclip.
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about the Linziclip, what it is, and how you came up with the idea?
Lindsey: Shelley-Anne and I met at a party and were introduced. Shortly afterwards, we decided to start a business together. At the first or second meeting, Shelley-Anne had a butterfly clip in her hair and leant back, with the teeth digging painfully into the back of her head! She quickly removed the clip. We just looked at each other and had a Eureeka moment! We decided that we would try and re create the butterfly clip getting rid of the bits we hated – springs showing, ears digging into the back of the head, clip slipping, ugly shape and come up with an alternative.
Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?
Lindsey: We first went to see someone to mock up the idea but they said that it was physically impossible because the dynamics of the clip were wrong and would not open. We wanted to prove them wrong and show the clip could be opened and closed. It did take time……but we managed to in the end!
Tara: Did you get presentation drawing sheets produced or make a prototype of the the Linziclip?
Lindsey: Before any drawings, we took a loo roll and cut it in half and slid the two sections together. Clearly, it didn’t look very pretty, so Shelley-Anne took some silver spray to colour the toilet roll – not much better! We then added some glitter and looked proudly at our first mock up ! It looked awful – and we fell about laughing! After we patented the clip, we cold called a distributor and met up with him to guage his thoughts. We couldn’t believe that we actually showed him the loo roll – and that he actually thought the idea was good!!
Our next step was getting drawings and then an SLS prototype was made.
Tara: Did you try and patent or protect your idea in any way and how did you go about it?
Lindsey: We took out patents immediately and once we launched, we took out patent insurance. I think we are patented in about 50 countries.
Tara: Did you always intend manufacturing Linziclip yourself or did you look into licensing the idea?
Lindsey: I had already licensed one of my ideas, which was a butterfly clip attached to a ponytail of hair which sold under the Revlon label, but didn’t like the licensing idea at all. I did try licensing a hairdryer and some other inventions, but everyone was scared to risk money. With licensing, you have little or no control and basically you surrender your baby. You have to put a huge amount of trust with the company you are working with. Many companies are sadly not honest and are underhand with the amount of units that are really sold, so you can find yourself with a shortfall without even realising it…..
Tara: How did you go about finding a suitable manufacturer for the Linziclip and did you self fund this?
Lindsey: Nothing like Google looking for finding manufacturers! I found ours in India on an Indian website and contacted them. When they met us, they wanted to know where Mr Walker and Mr Salisbury was! This factory had never worked with women and couldn’t believe it was run by women.
It took a long time, but in the end we got a DTI loan, investors and also put money in ourselves.
Tara: What have you found are the best ways of promoting Linziclip?
Lindsey: We are not selling in the UK but through distributors in North America, Japan, Russia and parts of Europe. The best way to create awareness is through PR and if you can afford it – advertising! We don’t believe the word of mouth thing really works…..
Below, for example, is how the Americans promote the Linziclip
Tara: What were the most difficult elements of bringing Linziclip to market?
Lindsey: We thought that anything fresh and new would be very exciting for a buyer, but discovered the opposite. Many retailers hate risk and are not happy buying something new and most like to work with the manufacturer and distributors that they have always worked with. The problem is, is that it is easier to say ‘no’ than it is to say ‘yes’. The only way passed that is to stay determined, enthusiastic and focussed.
Tara: How long has it taken from your initial idea to taking it to market?
Lindsey: I think it was three or four years.
Tara: Is there anything you learned developing the Linziclip that you would now do differently if you had to do it all again?
Lindsey: Lots !!
Tara: What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?
Lindsey: This is a huge question with an even larger answer. Let us give just a few pointers for now. First, they need to check with a patent agent that their invention doesn’t exist. The worst thing to do is to start on something to discover a similar invention has already been patented! Then they need to take out a patent application which is a very expensive process but must be done by an expert. Once that process has taken place, the next thing is to get drawings and more importantly, mock ups done. After that, they need to decide on whether they want to license it or make and sell it themselves. If they don’t feel they would make a good business person, then maybe licensing is for them.
Tara: Where can people find out more about you and the Linziclip?
Please visit our website on www.linshell.com or linziclip Facebook / twitter. Overseas, people can find the Linziclips in CVS, RiteAId etc and AS Watston, Muller, Etos etc. We also sell on Amazon, Glitz4Girlz, Drugstore.com etc.
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