What makes The MatSack stand out?
It's an evergreen product that goes out to all age groups even though I designed them for the children. There's a demand in the marketplace. I wanted kids to be able to identify the MatSack. There are six designs and they are all equally popular. A study in Columbia found that the germs on the tables were worse than a port-a-potty! Having the placemat is the perfect option. A lot of moms are saying that it's a wonderful idea for kids with allergies that could be on the table...It has that extra layer of protection from food mixing. My daughter uses it, and the kids think it is the coolest thing!
How did the manufacturing background give you the confidence to start your own corporation?
It helped me to know the infrastructure; what type of departments would be needed, how to set up accounting so that I could have operation; from manufacturing one material, to turning it into a finished good. It also gave me a lot of connections. I set up a facility that I work out of, and then attached to that is a warehouse...where I house all of our inventory.
Walk us through the steps that you took to get The MatSack off the ground.
I sat with an engineer and came up with a practical idea for a lunchbox. I had to get a prototype made. I Googled manufacturers and selling contractors, and found one in Queens. They helped me create a pattern and sew the prototype. It was very important to me that I make high quality materials, compliant with the FDA and the CPSC and to design them with a fashion forward look. I didn't want them to look like standard lunchboxes. I set up a corporation, set up my patent, and had all my art labeled and designed and set up the internal infrastructure.
What was the biggest hurdle you faced?
I didn't realize what I was getting into...you have to go into the mindset that you're not stopping. It's really important to get a focus group [and determine], is it a good idea in the marketplace? I had to learn to not rush the process. It's a two- to five-year game. You have to put money into it and hope for a return later on.
How did you go about marketing?
I had to learn about the field that I was going into. Obviously, you need a website. I made phone calls. I worked with schools. I talked about my product. With word of mouth, I sold 500 units independently.
You have to think, what kind of retail outlet would sell my product? Sporting goods stores, TV shopping networks. Through the PTAs in the schools, I offered the product at a discount. Also media attention...we're currently doing a commercial. Right now, it's being sold on the East Coast, through family members and friends. A relative is selling them in Florida.
How do you juggle all this with taking care of your family?
It's actually amazing how I am balancing. It's very important that I don't sacrifice my daughter. I have a helpful husband, who helps me with the house. At this point, nothing is suffering, if you can schedule it and meet the time frame that you have allocated.
What's next for the company?
Penetrating the market. Having the resources available to get into the retail chains. We have the infrastructure to mass sell. We're also marketing our website. The sky's the limit. Whatever the demand is, I'll make it! My goal is to bring this company to a substantial size, so that I can meet the demand of selling the MatSack nationally.