Mangano tells Moneyish what makes a billion dollar business idea
Entrepreneur Joy Mangano’s life story is taking center stage.
The inventor of the self-wringing Miracle Mop — and more than $3 billion worth of successful products like Huggable Hangers and My Little Steamer — had her life story told on the big screen in the 2015 hit “Joy” starring Jennifer Lawrence. And now it’s getting the Broadway treatment: Tony-winning producer Ken Davenport, who produced hits like “Spring Awakening” and “Once on this Island,” acquired the musical rights and plans to bring it to the stage.
Before making it big, Mangano says she hit a million roadblocks before she could even dream of becoming a millionaire.She details her journey in her relatable new memoir “Inventing Joy.”
“I wasn’t wealthy in any form, I couldn’t even pay my electric bills, but I was able to keep putting one foot in front of the other,” Mangano tells Moneyish of struggles she faced before coming up with any profitable ideas.
‘Miracle Mop’ inventor Joy Mangano tells Moneyish how you can create your own billion-dollar product https://t.co/EgHClsYXlA
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“People would ask me, ‘what do you do?’ If I said I was an inventor they would say leave her over there at the cocktail party. In the time that I started, a mom didn’t become an inventor. It really is hard work.”
Her story of perseverance and defying the odds of being a woman in a male dominated industry played out on the big screen in the 2015 film “Joy” starring Jennifer Lawrence, who calls Mangano “a fearless woman, an incredible business force and an inspiration to everyone she meets” on the cover of her book. She is.
The 61-year-old inventor got divorced shortly after having her three kids. Having to build a new life for herself and her family was the first step towards creating her billion dollar business, and doing it all alone as a single mother is what gave Mangano the drive to invent again — something she did her whole life.
“In my thirties I felt like I was losing control of my life, so I took charge and made some changes, and I rediscovered who I could be,” Mangano writes. “I grew up making and building things, but over the years I kind of lost touch with that side of myself.”
Mangano grew up as the shy, skinny Italian girl in the working class neighborhood of Dix Hills in Long Island. Whether she was 10 years old trying to find a solution for bandage booties for her dog, or 30 years later trying to sell decorative wreaths to Bloomingdale’s, the same thought always popped into her head: “There has to be a better way.”
Bloomingdale’s rejected her wreath pitch. And not long after, she thought up the idea for a self-wringing mop while she was cleaning up a spill from one of her kids while out on her father’s sailboat.
When asked what makes a good idea, Mangano says the mistake people make is thinking that it has to be monumental, like the airplane, the computer or an iPhone. But really it’s anything that serves a purpose.
“If it didn’t exist before, and there’s a need for it, and it’ll make somebody’s life better that’s it,” Mangano says simply. “Always know that product is king. Every detail about it, and everything you do you have to keep that at the forefront of everything.”
Mangano recruited her family and friends to help build the first 1,000 Miracle Mops in her father’s autobody shop. She launched her Miracle Mop on QVC in 1992 and sold more than 18,000 products during her first live appearance. Today she has more than 100 patents and trademarks for her inventions and has generated more than $3 billion in product sales globally.
“It doesn’t have to be rocketships. You have to have that empathy for whoever your customer or consumer is,” Mangano says. “If you tap into that you have a great chance for success.”
She’s known for her evergreen inventions that are practical and always useful, like the My Little Steamer, $19.99, a portable product that gets out wrinkles. She launched the huggable hanger on the Home Shopping Network, a slimmer, more efficient hanger that helps prevent closets from getting bulky and overstuffed. It became the best-selling product in the history of HSN. In the past 20 years, she’s sold more than 800 million and that number is expected to top a billion by the end of this year.
“When I told everybody I am making this velvety hanger, they looked at me and said ‘why?’ But a billion hangers later — I feel if you’re tapped into the consumer, and it makes a difference in their life in a positive way, it’s just fabulous.”
Mangano faced a lot of rejection, but being able to move on and not take “no” personally was something she had to get used to.
“There are no experts. You’re the expert of what it is you might do. If you tap into that you have a great chance for success,” she says.
And when it comes to profiting off your own ideas, Mangano says you better love what you’re doing.
“Find what ignites you. You have to be doing what you feel passionate about. It has to be organic,” she says.
“If the goal is to be a millionaire, you have to do it. People think there’s overnight success; there isn’t. Just keep moving forward. If you don’t you’ll never have that end result. Once you reach that success you work even harder.”
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