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2015
10-03

“妈妈”发明家 If These Moms Can’t Find It,They Invent It

Eight years ago, Tamara Monosoff came up with an invention that she was sure mothers like herself would appreciate: a device that prevents children from 1)unspooling toilet paper from the roll. But she had no idea how to transform the concept into a 2)marketable product. When she turned to the Internet,“There was nothing—no road maps, no anything,” recalls Ms. Monosoff, who lives near San Francisco.

Fast-forward to today, and the term “mom inventors” 3)yields about 290,000 results on Google. There is Ms. Monosoff’s own Web site, Mom Invented, which supports aspiring“4)mompreneurs” and licenses and sells products under the Mom Invented brand, a 5)Good Housekeeping-like seal of approval. Other sites include the Mogul Mom, where mothers can satisfy their inner 6)Edison by reading 7)posts like“How Do I Get My Product in Stores?” and “Don’t Get Burned by Your Light Bulb Moment.” Not to mention the dozens and dozens of online stores, like the Busy Mom Boutique, that sell mom-made products.

What’s behind the growth in mom-generated creations? One factor is the rise of the Internet and social media, which allow child-raising women to exchange ideas without having to leave the house. Ms. Monosoff has nearly 6,000 followers on Twitter, and her Web site has a community of about 20,000 mothers, who exchange tips and offer support.“Someone will say they’re having a problem and they can’t find a 8)seamstress, and someone else will say, ‘I have someone who helped me,’ ” she says. “It’s instantaneous, whereas for me, I was looking in the 9)Yellow Pages.”

Inventing is also a means of 10)channeling energy for ambitious career women who suddenly find themselves changing diapers and searching for lost 11)sippy cups.

“They’re engaged, they’re smart, smart women,”says Ms. Monosoff, who has two daughters, ages 8 and 10. “Whether they have a business background or not, they have their whole life experience to bring to the table. That’s what I love. They’re not 12)constrained by 13)business jargon or business concepts. They’re like, ‘I’m making this thing; how do I sell it?’ ” Running Mom Invented, and writing books on inventing, is a full-time job that Ms. Monosoff 14)fits in while her girls are at school and in bed.

Linsay Chavez of Tucson, Ariz., quit her job as a marketing coordinator for a manufacturing company and started the Busy Mom Boutique this year. “A lot of moms need to support their families,” she says, “and while maybe they don’t 15)have it in them to go get a full-time job, seeing as they have their kids at home, they actually get the 16)momentum to turn ideas into reality.” She adds: “In many households, moms are the chief buyers. And in the new millennium, if they can’t find what they need, they just invent it themselves.”

That was true for Ms. Monosoff, who couldn’t figure out how to stop her 8-month-old daughter from 17)unrolling all of the toilet paper and stuffing it down the toilet. “I was like, ‘Okay, where’s the gadget?’ ”Ms. Monosoff recalls. “I was trying to figure out how to design something like that, but I really had no experience. Then I was buying shampoo at a beauty supply store, and I saw a 18)hair permanent rod, that little roller thing, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that might work!’ ”

She worked on a rough prototype of what would become the “TP Saver.” The basic concept is that a small, plastic rod—that grown-ups can lock into place—keeps the toilet paper from unspooling. Then she found a 19)machinist and an engineer to work out the design, 20)brainstormed with focus groups, hired a manufacturer in China, had the product 21)patented and safety tested and ultimately got it into 9,000 grocery stores nationwide.

Such stories are everywhere: a mom runs into a problem with her child and, unable to find a solution, invents one herself. That’s happened to Heather Allard of Providence, R.I., who before staying home with her children worked as a saleswoman and account coordinator for 22)Estée Lauder. When her second daughter was “23)busting out of every 24)swaddling blanket” while she was sleeping, she joked to her husband,“I wish I could make a little baby 25)straitjacket.”

“I told this to other moms, and said that would be really great, ” she says. After making a “primitive sketch on 26)loose leaf,” she worked with a seamstress on a prototype and had it patented. “There was a whole lot of trial and error, and a lot of expensive mistakes,” she says. For instance, the American manufacturer she first hired was costing her $16 a product. Then she switched to a Chinese company and reduced the cost to $5.85. In the end, she spent $50,000 to get her product to market. She 27)recouped the cost when she sold the rights to the product, the Swaddleaze, and its 28)follow-up, the Blankeaze—a wearable blanket with leg holes—for six figures in 2008. That same year, she started Mogul Mom.

Nowadays, she says, the landscape is much different for moms. “We’ve come so far. I think at this point, it’s never been easier to do this kind of thing,” she says, pointing to the 29)plethora of advice Web sites, coaching programs and even crowdfunding resources that help raise 30)seed money for products. Those developments, she says, have “coincided with the 31)rotten economy, so a lot of moms are out of jobs, they’re at home with the kids.”

She adds: “They say necessity is the mother of invention—well, that’s the case.”

八年前,塔玛拉·莫诺索夫想出了一项她认为像她一样的妈妈们都会欣赏的发明:一个能够防止小孩将厕纸从卷筒上扯下来的装置。但是,她不知道如何将这个想法转变成一种有销路的产品。当她求助于互联网时,发现“什么都没有——没有相关的参考指导,任何东西都没有,”居住在旧金山市附近的莫诺索夫女士回忆道。

时至今日,“妈妈发明家”这个词语在谷歌搜索引擎上已经有近29万条相关结果。这当中就包含莫诺索夫女士自己的网站“妈妈发明”,该网站支持有抱负的“妈妈企业家”并获准销售“妈妈发明”品牌下的系列产品, “妈妈发明”品牌就像是通过“好管家研究院”认证一样的标记。其他网站包括“大人物妈妈”,在这个网站上,妈妈们可以通过浏览一些诸如《如何让我的产品进驻商店》、《别错过你灵光乍现的时刻》等帖子去满足她们内心的创造需求。更不用说那许许多多如“繁忙妈妈精品小店”等出售妈妈们制造的产品的网上商店了。

这些由妈妈发明的创意产品涌现的背后暗含着什么呢?其中一个因素是,互联网和社交网络媒体的发展使得这些带小孩的女士足不出户便可以交流想法。莫诺索夫女士在推特上有将近六千名“粉丝”,而她的网站是一个有着将近两万名妈妈的网络社区,妈妈们在此互相交换建议及提供帮助。“有些人会说她们遇到难题,找不到好的女裁缝,其他人就会说:‘我这里有人替我做过衣服,(可以推荐给你)’”她说,“那是即时性的,对我来说,我过去会在黄页里寻找。”

发明创造也为那些原本雄心勃勃、却突然发现自己的角色转变成换尿片、给小孩四处找吸水杯的职业女性提供了一个发挥干劲的途径。

“她们全情投入,是聪明且思维敏捷的女性,”有着两个各八岁和十岁大女儿的莫诺索夫女士说,“不管她们有没有商业背景,她们都有足够的生活经验可登大雅之堂。这是我所热爱的东西。她们不拘泥于商业术语或者商业概念。她们倾向于想:‘我做出了这件东西,我怎么卖掉它呢?’。”当女儿们上学或在床上睡觉时,经营妈妈发明网、撰写关于发明的书,便是莫诺索夫女士的全职工作。

来自亚利桑那州图森市的林赛·查韦斯,放弃了她在一制造企业的市场协调员的工作,在今年创建了“繁忙妈妈精品小店”。“许多妈妈需要养家,”她说, “可能她们因为考虑到有小孩在家,所以没有去找一份全职工作,事实上,她们有着把想法转变成现实的动力。”她补充道:“在许多家庭里,妈妈是主要的购买者。在这个新千年里,如果妈妈们不能找到她们所需的东西,就只有自己发明了。”

这对莫诺索夫女士而言,确实如此。她找不到方法去制止她八个月大的女儿将厕纸扯出来塞进马桶里。“那时候,我就想,“好吧,那小玩意在哪里?”莫诺索夫女士回忆道,“我想方设法去设计出那样的东西,但是我真的没有经验。然后我在一家美容品商店买洗发露,刚好看到了一个卷发筒,像小小的滚轴一样的东西,那时候,我就想,‘噢,我的天呐,这个可能行得通!’”

她开始着手研究后来成为“厕纸节约器”的样品。其基本概念是一个小小的塑料棒——成人能够用来锁定——防止厕纸滚出来。后来,她找到一个机械师和一个工程师去完成这个设计,开展各种头脑风暴式的小组讨论,雇用了一家中国制造商,为这项产品申请了专利,进行了安全测试,最终将其推广至全美国九千间杂货店。

这样的故事比比皆是:一位妈妈遇到她小孩引起的问题,找不到解决方法,就自己发明。这发生在来自罗德 岛普罗维登斯的希瑟·阿拉德身上。留在家里照看小孩之前,她是雅诗兰黛的销售及客户协调员。当她的二女儿睡觉之际“踢开每一张襁褓毛毯”时,她跟丈夫开玩笑道:“我真想做一件婴儿紧身衣。”

“我把这个主意告诉其他妈妈,说这肯定会非常不错,”她说。她在“活页纸上画了个原始草图”之后,与一位女裁缝研究样品,并申请了专利。“当中经过多次反复试验,还有许多代价高昂的错误,”她说。例如,她刚开始雇用的美国制造商每一件产品收取她16美元。后来,她转而与一家中国公司合作,将成本降至每件5.85美元。最后,她花了五万美元将她的产品投入市场。2008年,她以六位数的金额出售了襁褓睡袋及其后续产品毛毯睡袋(一张可穿在身上、有裤洞的毛毯)的专利,收回了之前投入的成本。同一年,她创立了“大人物妈妈”网站。

现在,她说,对妈妈们来说,前景很不一样。“我们走了这么远。我认为,做这样的事情从来没有试过像现在这么容易,”她说,并指出建议类网站、指导性项目以及为开发产品筹集创业基金的筹资渠道有些泛滥。她接着说,这些事物的发展,“与萧条的经济不无关系,因而才会有这么多的妈妈失业,在家带小孩。”

她补充道:“他们说需求是发明之母——嗯,事实确实如此。”

最后编辑:
作者:千年光影
这个作者貌似有点懒,什么都没有留下。