For our October Inventor Spotlight, we’re highlighting Kim Lavalle! Kim
has been an active Edison Nation member and Insider since 2012!
We wanted to get to know Kim a bit better to learn about her background
and her EN experiences so far…
Where is your hometown?
Houston, Texas. It was a much smaller and friendlier town back then.
Where do you currently reside?
Two blocks from where I grew up! Guess I don’t get out much…
I am currently plotting my escape to greener and calmer pastures, however. Way too many people around here, and the traffic is a booger to contend with. Life’s too short for that.
What is your professional background?
I worked in banking for 15 years, in accounting and as a teller. I wasn’t making much, so I decided to go to Nursing School. I graduated with a BSN and worked as a RN until four years ago when I started working for a Medical Device company. Now I’m in Sales for that company. Way outta my comfort zone at times!!
I travel around Texas and parts of Louisiana regularly for work, so my EN and FB buddies keep me company on the road. But, I keep my license up and I can still count money really fast, so I do have a backup plan if this gig doesn’t work out.
How did you initially hear about Edison Nation?
I’m pretty sure it was through the Houston Inventors Association. I talked to a friend about an idea I had, and he had been a member of HIA. I started going to their meetings and I think I first heard EN mentioned there. I was really happy to find it!
Have you ever collaborated with another inventor(s) on a project? If so, how was that experience for you?
I’ve worked with John Vilardi a time or two. He’s very easy to work with, and he does great work.
I have a few projects that I would like to collaborate on as they are outside of my expertise, but just haven’t found the right people yet. Maybe we need an “Inventor Match.com”!
What are some general industry trends you have noticed recently?
Things are taking off so fast in all directions…technology is out of control! It’s very hard for me to keep up as I didn’t grow up with computers.
I’ve also noticed that products are being designed for very specific issues; for instance, many kitchen items perform only one function. I don’t really need a rice cooker – I have a pan with a lid that works just fine. But I do like the taco holders; they are most helpful!
Decadence also seems to be in vogue now…luxury items (the crazier the better), booze, sweets and coffee!
Lots of copycat items, too…
Do you find that invention ideas come to you or do you have to go after them?
A little of both. Sometimes I can think of something for a specific search that comes out, but mostly they just come to me. I usually come up with something brilliant the day after the search closes!
I have a notebook with ideas for products and businesses, along with a bigger notebook that’s actually a repository for scraps of paper with song ideas and songs I’ve written. I don’t write music, though, so that has slowed me down a tad.
What advice would you tell others hoping to score a licensing deal?
Read and learn everything you can before you do anything!!!
And those things are so difficult to do…
When you first start out you want it NOW and you just can’t wait, but if you do things the right way, you can save a lot of time, money and heartache. Nothing like finding out that your invention is already being sold some place. What? How did they know? I just thought of that… Better to find out before you sink a boatload of cash into a patent and prototypes, plus the time and energy lost on the endeavor.
It’s also imperative to be impartial and objective when evaluating your ideas. You may have a great idea, but if no one will buy it because it is way too late or too early for the marketplace, then it’s not worth much. For example, no one would probably buy a cotton gin today, but Eli Whitney sold plenty of them around a century ago. And look at all the stuff that Tesla came up with that were way too far out there at the time, but now they make sense.
What are some other fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share with the EN community?
I’m proud to be a 6th Generation Texan, and I love exploring and learning about my state. I have two awesome sons and five beautiful grandchildren.
I was very athletic growing up; ballet, gymnastics, snow skiing, horseback riding, and with one of my brothers, general constant motion and hyperactivity – my poor mom!
We spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ on five acres in what is now the middle of Houston. It was partly wooded and like being in the country. My grandfather farmed some of it, so we ate well. My other grandparents had a log cabin in the mountains of Colorado to escape the heat. I spent most of my time there at the livery stable, just to be around the horses. I love animals and have always had dogs and cats.
My great grandmother taught me to sew, embroider and crochet. I recently learned to needlepoint, which I really enjoy. I’ve also been in a Bible study for the past nine years. I’m interested in taking more art lessons and doing some genealogy tracing.
What inspired you to start inventing?
An idea came to me about seven years ago; I was half asleep and it involved something that was being discussed on the radio (it’s still being mulled over in my mind). Ever since then, I started looking at things differently. I used to just accept things at face value, but now I’m much more curious about how things work. I want to come up with solutions instead of just acknowledging that something bugs me and not trying to fix it.
When did you come up with your first great idea?
As for a product, see above. In general, I’m a great idea person. I’ve been coming up with ideas forever, so I couldn’t tell you one in particular. I’m pretty creative and I love to design things, so that helps.
You have been an EN member since 2012, can you provide us with some details around your experiences and journey to date?
My first submission went to G6 and sat there for the longest time – like nine months or so before it got the boot. Since then, it’s been a bloodbath. Red just covers my page!
I will admit that I usually don’t do as much due diligence as I should. I work best under pressure, so I am often sliding in under the submission wire when I think of something last minute. I just don’t have the time to devote to it then. I could get a lot done if I didn’t have to work!
Any additional details you’d like to share?
I have a family that is chock-full of artists and creative-type folks. As my brother said in a resume, “Mom was a ballerina and Dad was a bull rider. With a gene pool like that, crazy things can happen!”
Have you ever thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if…”?
We exist to get product ideas out of your head and onto retail shelves, all at no risk to you.