Our InvENtor Spotlight for August is on Celeste Sands! Celeste has been a member of the Edison Nation community since 2008 and is an active Insider!
Where is your hometown?
Where do you currently reside?
What is your professional background?
I have been a hairdresser since 1977, but have dabbled in other areas like owning a small catering company, and, of course, loving to problem solve!
I still love the creative part of hair but getting older I can’t stand behind the chair all day going deaf with blow dryers or hurting with carpal tunnel. (Working on an invention for that need, as we speak!)
How did you initially hear about Edison Nation?
I found out about EN when I went to Dallas for a casting call for my first invention concept. My daughter and I went and received a finalist coin which meant our idea was being considered to be featured on the Everyday Edisons program series. We were not chosen, but I did meet a lot of other inventors. There were a lot of us out there needing representation and they started EN up around that time in 2008.
What inspired you to start inventing?
My family always said I was the one in the family who liked to take our clocks and other broken gadgets apart to see if I could get them to work again. Many times I moved enough parts around to actually find out the problem and would fix it. I think they worked again mainly by accident, but the point was the curiosity and the tenacity was within me to make it work again. Figuring out a better mousetrap became my quest!
My dad’s original trade was a Tool and Dye Maker. Even though he never played around with anything at the house, I think the gene was passed on as I was/am always trying to figure out why something works and how I can make it better…
My mother, on the other side, would tear down a wall to put in/build a better closet and then quit halfway as she got busy with our family and didn’t have the energy or funds to complete the job. I was the chronic “level holder” for her, I went to the lumber yard or hardware store and watched her working out all the ins and outs of her project in her head and the math on the page for measurements, etc. I swore to never hold another level again in my life! Yet, after building a lot of my house projects without one, I finally did cave as I was building my porch cover of my first house at 42 years of age. I had to see if my posts were straight to connect the top posts too. (I still hate levels…although I do see their worth!)
Do you find that invention ideas come to you or do you have to go after them?
Both, really. If I am having an issue with something I am doing, my mind starts wondering how I could accomplish the task more easily.
Once I come up with an idea, the wheels start and I might spend a few days pondering it, then life gets in the way and I forget about it. Months later it may come back to me when I see something in a store that inspires me. Then I will dive into it and try to make a prototype or do some graphic arts for it. Finally, I will try to put it on paper if I think its worth the effort, or make a demo video to explain my prototype and share it with EN to see if it has merit.
When did you come up with your first great idea?
I had many ideas I would tell friends about in my 20’s. I would later see them hit the market and think, I thought of that…I should have patented it! But, I knew nothing on how to do such a thing. Not having the internet meant you had to go to a library and do a lot of research, or pay an attorney, so that was way out of my league!
Have you ever collaborated with another inventor(s) on a project? If so, how was that experience for you?
My first crazy idea that I decided to do some leg work on was one that I had in my early 30’s.
A new guy friend, Barry, that I met at a party told me that he invented a toy gadget. Actually he admitted that he had changed up an existing toy and was getting royalties! We talked more and we shook on being partners and I shared my idea with him. It was about women being able to stand up when peeing, I called it the Pee Straw.
We decided not to go further with it even after we were working on prototypes with pointy Dixie Cups with wipes attached to them. We had to decide if we would start paying for attorneys to do the research for a patent. I decided paying for my upcoming wedding was going to get expensive, so we ditched it.
A funny thing though, years later as I was passing my TV when Johnny Carson was on, I heard the ending of an interview with a guy who was sharing his idea of a women’s urinary aide where they could stand up and pee. The segment was short and I didn’t get to see who the guy being interviewed was to see if it was my friend Barry. Barry, was that you?
You have been an EN member since 2008, can you provide us with some details around your experiences and journey to date?
My journey has included some great ideas that have been explored to market and many that have not. Being that I was a single mom during many of them, I had to choose day-to-day money or mailbox money. I chose to eat that day, so my hair business took precedence. EN has been good for getting my concepts somewhere to share. I love the possibility of getting something licensed! I really loved learning about that early on.
I also had a deal through EN for a kitchen gadget which was exciting for a time. Unfortunately, they dropped it after a year or so during the manufacturing process over some issues they had while making the product. That was frustrating as I thought the kinks could have been pretty easy to work out, but we do not work directly with the manufacturers through EN. This was in the earlier years of EN so I am sure some of the approaches toward the production times and issues have been rethought and improved upon.
Now that I am closer to retirement, remarried and my daughter is almost out of college, I am finding the time to start getting things down on paper and working out prototypes, etc. It is really fun to brainstorm with my friends and try some crazy concepts out to either death or to where I think I need to get someone to see my genius!!
What advice would you tell others embarking on their own invention journeys?
Be brave. Be tenacious on the journey until you see if your product has merit or not.
I will equate this to the “Road to Hana” (A very winding road with 600 tight turns to a town which is about a block long in Maui, Hawaii). Travel books tell visitors: The trip to Hana is about the Trip. The road you are on, is scenic and should be traveled on with adventure and caution.
Enjoy the ride and notice the adventure. That is where the fun is.. for me.
When I am on the journey to my next big idea, it is the thrill to me about how to figure it all out. What are the nuts and bolts? A piece or dynamic part of something I am making may be the only thing I can think would be the best part of the product I am working on. But later, I realize I had tunnel vision and it really would work better if I approached it with a completely different angle or part.
Don’t get constipated on one avenue!
I did this on my first real invention that I worked on seriously and the one I took to Everyday Edisons for the casting call search. I thought I had worked out the kinks until I found another product patented like it online. I was crushed and went to bed in tears. But, by morning, with some prayers and a great dream…I figured out a better solution that was not patented and made the product so much better! Don’t lose heart, but also know when to quit or to put the idea on a shelf, so you can use that imagination for some other great concepts!
What would you consider as your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
I wouldn’t call anything a failure…Just a learning moment.
What are some other fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share with the EN community?
I guess one of the best compliments I have gotten in the last few years, is that my husband of 5 years now tells me, “You are the most interesting women in the world!”
I love that, as we can sit and brainstorm or discuss one of my crazy ideas and laugh together through the process, even though he often tells me “why fix something that ain’t broke?”
It is the party I am having in my brain to try to solve a puzzle that my mind keeps going back to.
It’s fun being me!