If I had listened to all of the people who told me “A mop is a mop is a mop” when I first dreamed up the invention for the Miracle Mop, I would absolutely not be in the place where I am today. This year I celebrated my 15th year with HSN and the 25th year since I created my very first Joy Mangano product, the Miracle Mop which will be specially re-released January 3rd at HSN first! What have I learned? It takes hard work and dedication to be the heroine of your own life, along with a few other lessons along the way.
The number of women-owned businesses in our country is growing at a fantastic rate. When I think back to where I began though, I completely understand the hurdles that many female entrepreneurs uniquely have to jump. I was a single mother to three young children, living in Smithtown, NY, in a small two-bedroom home. On an average week I had my day job, I waitressed nights and weekends, and then I came home to cook, clean and care for my kids. As all parents intimately know, children can be quite messy. It wasn’t until I was fed up with dunking my hands into dirty mop water and straining my back by bending over that I decided there had to be a better way to wash my floors. That’s when the idea for the Miracle Mop and my life’s larger work started to come together.
The problem I faced–spending way too much time and energy trying to clean my floors when I was already super busy– is a simple one but it’s also a common issue that most of us deal with daily. We all have to take care of our homes so I knew if I was in need of a better solution others needed it too. This idea that I could create smart and stylish innovations that make daily life simpler has been the backbone for all of my inventions like the Huggable Hangers, Jewel-Kits, Forever Fragrant and more. It brings me to the three pieces of advice that have been indispensable to me as I built my business.
1. Search For The Solutions
Ever since I was young I was always thinking creatively about the world around me. Thinking creatively doesn’t just mean the arts like drawing and painting, it can be applied to everything like how we cook, clean, travel–the sky’s the limit. When I was 16 and living with my parents in Huntington, NY I had a part-time job at an Animal Hospital. It was at that job that I came up with my first invention: a fluorescent flea collar. It could be worn by cats and dogs so drivers at night would be able to see the reflection of their collars as they crossed the road and avoid potential accidents. I saw a problem and I found a solution. It wasn’t until a little later when Hartz Mountain debuted the exact same product to market, though, that I realized my inventions could be worldwide solutions.
2. Follow Your Instincts
At 16 I didn’t have the skills or business capital to take one of my inventions to market but I did promise myself after that experience with the flea collar that I would not just sit on another idea. A few years passed–I earned a Business degree from Pace University in New York, I became a mother, and I allowed my creativity to simmer on the back burner for a little while. When the idea for the Miracle Mop struck me, however, I went into action. With my product in hand I went for network television to get the word out on my invention. At that time, nothing like my mop had been sold on a network shopping channel before but I knew that there was a huge home goods market out there just waiting to be found. More than anything else, I knew deep down that my product was great and if people could just see how well it worked and see my enthusiasm for it, it would be a success. The first day I went on-air to promote my product 18,000 mops sold in 20 minutes. That’s when I learned that believing in yourself is the first step to convincing anyone else to believe in you too.
3. Have The Courage To Continue
When I first invented the Miracle Mop, it wasn’t my intention to become famous, my intention was to provide for my family–and there was no guarantee that this one product was going to do that. Whenever you start something new, in business or life, doubt comes easy but courage takes work. I used my life’s savings and borrowed from family and friends to produce that first prototype of the Miracle Mop. For two long years before my success on network television I was working my product in grocery store aisles, talking to shopper’s one on one, and running my business out of my bedroom. In those early days my kids and I were the ones filling orders for the Miracle Mop. You must be brave and you must be strong to have the courage to keep going when you do experience the struggles of being an entrepreneur. Even when I was able to move to a real office and have a warehouse my support team stayed the same. I think a large part of my success came from my drive to bring something bigger into the world and to show my children that they could also accomplish their dreams, no matter the obstacles.
Remember to look out for the return of the Miracle Mop to HSN first on January 3rd! Who do you know that could use the Miracle Mop to make their daily life simpler?
The upcoming new film JOY was inspired by the life of HSN’s own Joy, as well as the lives of several other successful women. The film hits theaters on December 25th, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro.