Our InvENtor Spotlight for June is on Sarah Mann! Sarah has been a member of the Edison Nation community since 2010 and is an active Insider!
Where is your hometown?
I grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, right next to Boston.
Where do you currently reside?
I live about 20 miles north of Charlotte, North Carolina.
What is your professional background?
My process has always been that of a fine artist. Despite how naturally that comes to me, I resisted the world of fine art; it was important to me to create beautiful things that people could actually use. To fulfill that vision I worked as a designer for home decor and giftware. Product design was perfect for me. I loved generating numerous options for each concept, and it was great learning about design development, and the process of getting a product from concept to market.
I’ve also sold one-of-a-kind craft items; worked in mental health- primarily facilitating creative groups; as an adult education art teacher; illustrator; and palm reader.
How did you initially hear about Edison Nation?
I may have first heard about Edison Nation through the resource links on the Inventors Association of New England website. I attended their meetings in Cambridge, Mass., regularly for a while.
Have you ever collaborated with another inventor(s) on a project? If so, how was that experience for you?
Aside from using professional assistance, or talking over the idea with friends, I develop projects on my own.
What are some general industry trends you have noticed recently?
Tech of course is the category that’s probably growing the fastest. There also seem to be a lot of inventions that target health and fitness. And tech products that target health and fitness. And kitchen gadgets, so many kitchen gadgets!
Do you find that invention ideas come to you or do you have to go after them?
Ideas come to me. They pop into my head. Two of my current ideas came to me while I was waking up. After that the details need to be developed and worked out. The ideas don’t first appear in ready to use form!
What inspired you to start inventing?
My mother had an inventive mind and I remember her approaching companies to pitch her concepts. My brother also has an inventive mind. I always admired the way he would figure things out, fix what was broken, and make quirky objects. Both their examples made me aspire toward being an inventor, and to feel that I had inventing in me.
My uncle, who was an amateur photographer, invented the little plastic boxes used for storing slides. This was back in the day when just about everyone used slides. His product became pretty much indispensable to anyone who used a camera. He created a successful business with one simple idea – a small plastic box!
When did you come up with your first great idea?
I am very happy with an articulated doll I created, but I think the best idea I’ve had to date is the first one I submitted to EN.
What do you consider your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
My biggest failures have either been the result of moving forward too impulsively, or holding back unnecessarily. So I would say I have learned to trust myself, while at the same time proceed toward my goals with objective scrutiny.
You have been an EN member since 2010 , but recently active within the forums and as an Insider. Can you provide us with some details around your experiences and journey to date?
Over the years I’ve had a number of concepts for dolls. Initially I joined EN with the intention of submitting a concept for a line of dolls. Ultimately it didn’t feel right, and I didn’t submit it.
Until a couple of months ago I thought I would only have ideas for dolls, then suddenly ideas for products in a number of other categories starting coming to me.
It started with one concept that is a solution to a problem I personally struggle with. Because it would solve what to me is a big problem, I took it seriously and I’m still in the process of developing it.
After that other ideas started popping into my head out of the blue. It’s been really fun and exciting
I became an EN Insider just recently, when I submitted my first concept, specifically to be able to get feedback.
What advice would you tell others embarking on their inventing journey?
Listen to others, but trust yourself!
Don’t get attached- realize that even if your idea is used, companies will very likely want to change it.
Don’t put all your hopes into one idea.
Let go, but also be willing to persist with an idea you really believe in.
What are some other fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share with the EN community?
I love pattern and color, and I’m very into home decor. (An example of a work in process is shown in the photo above.)
I have always loved making things with found objects and mixed media, and have often used unexpected materials in my sculpture. In addition to having a love for working with different materials I’m also especially fascinated by movement, and how things connect and fit together.
Especially powerful to me is the art and craft of creating that breathtaking space between not alive and yet very much alive in which automata toys, stop motion constructions, and dolls exist.
I am an INTJ (Myers Briggs Type Indicator.)