Snaps Blades Fast!

Clermont Chamber of Commerce Intercom

On the Cutting Edge of Success 

DesignOvations, Inc.

John Melvin
Clermont SBDC

In the spring of 2000, Mary Kay Hansen visited the Clermont Small Business Development Center with a request for assistance in obtaining an SBA loan to help in starting a company to develop and market a product that she had invented. While inventors are not the most common users of SBDC services, they do appear from time to time and always have interesting stories. However, after working closely with Mary Kay for almost a year, it is safe to say that her particular story is extremely unique and a tribute to the energy, creativity and dedication necessary for someone to be successful in starting a new business.

Mary Kay has always been a dreamer. Several times, she has thought of something that would make life easier or better, but she has not had the money or the time to pursue these ideas. Many times, she has later seen her idea become a reality that lined someone else's pockets.

However, after she started a small retail business and a wallpapering and painting business, Lamb's Covering, in the Milford area, Mary Kay had another inspiration for a needed improvement to an existing product that she and thousands of others used every day in the wallpapering business. This time, Mary Kay made up her mind that she was going to aggressively pursue her dream.

By the time she came to the SBDC, Mary Kay already had two utility patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office and another patent pending. She had met with various potential distributors and had a rough idea of what she needed to do to make her product become reality. Of course, a key component was that she needed financing. Upon learning about the SBA programs and the personal guarantee requirements attached thereto, Mary Kay became even more resourceful, wanting to save these programs for future marketing purposes. When she needed additional models built for her invention, she designed and built the models herself. When she needed to have her product imported for sale, she located a respected source in Chicago. When product design problems arose, she jaunted off to Mainland China to solve them. When she needed a package designed, she did it herself. When she needed a user -friendly website,, she also designed much of it herself. And when it came to marketing, not surprisingly, Mary Kay took her product prototypes and packaging to carefully targeted hardware stores and made her own deals.

The result is that in late spring-early fall, Hader Hardware Stores, Walls and More, and Miller Brothers stores in the Cincinnati area will begin to offer Mary Kay's invention, the BLADEater (tm), a new, and much safer utility knife. She has already had discussion with Home Depot about taking her product national. For Mary Kay, the possibilities are endless.

For those used to a utility knife with snap-off blades, the BLADEater (tm) will be an immediate improvement over the models that often required two free hands for the simple task of breaking off a dull blade. What will really be impressive about this knife and holster product is that the dull blades snap off easily and fall safely into a retainer without worry that the used pieces have dropped to the floor or flown about the room where they might present a health hazard. While Mary Kay has targeted the wallpaper and home improvement market, it is probable that the BLADEater (tm) will also find wide acceptance in the automotive and upholstery industries.

The next time you are in the market for a well-manufactured, high quality, safe utility knife and you see the distinctive BLADEater(tm) hanging on a hardware store rack, you can say you know the rest of the story about a woman with great energy and conviction who made her dream a reality.

Oh, yes, the consummate do-it-yourselfer Mary Kay does have a tip for other inventors. "It is of the utmost importance to hire a qualified patent attorney. Some will try to tell you that you can write your own patent, but I believe that would be like reading a book on how to do your own open-heart surgery. By the time you have learned how to do it right, your time would have already run out!"