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Out of Great Difficulty Lies Opportunity: Profile on EarMuffers Inventor Marilyn Mance

October 8, 2013

Marilyn Mance

Marilyn Mance

Out of great difficulty lies opportunity- Albert Einstein

  mousepad einstein              I bought a mousepad with this quote on it and the quote sticks with me. The sentiment is applicable to my own personal and professional life in the last few years, and I find myself telling so many of my clients about it as well.

                 I was a Rotary meeting in Mt. Lebanon, PA a few Mondays ago. Our speaker was Marilyn Mance. She is a Pittsburgh resident and founder, inventor and Chief Executive Officer of EarMuffers. http://www.earmuffers.com.  As many of my close friends and colleagues know, I have used earplugs to help me “zone in” on my work since I started as a freshman at Bethany College.  Ms. Mance invented a peel ‘n stick exterior ear plug that completely covers the ear cavity outside the ear drum.

                The product tagline is “EarMuffers- The Modern Earplug”. Use for better sleep, studying, safe recreation (hunting), quiet travel and better protection against noisy environments at work (and for me Starbucks).

Marilyn explained the “journey” by which she launched her product.  Her long-time husband snores very loudly.  Marilyn was getting very little sleep and suffering significant medical issues as a result. But, she wanted to share the same bed as her husband and she didn’t like the feel of standard earplugs.  So, Marilyn, whose faith is very evident, told us this idea for the EarMuffers actually came to her in a dream.

2013-09-23 13.05.52                   Marilyn utilized all of the resources at her fingertips here in the Pittsburgh area. You know all the resources that we write about on this blog. She went to local banks for funding (and got it), she used local law firms to obtain a patent on the product, and she used a local Pittsburgh manufacturer. Marilyn took advantage of the resources at Duquesne Small Business Development Center (see prior blog post on Duquesne) and University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence (see post on Pitt). She is marketing first to pharmacies and will also market to commercial markets.  She also said that she gave out 5,000 free samples (which market at $6.99 for a package of 7 sets) at a recent Steelers game.  Marilyn literally has taken a dream product and is putting it into the stream of commerce.
What Marilyn didn’t elaborate on was the fact that she had once owned a hair salon (for 17 years) and wig center in the South Hills.  It was completely destroyed in a flood over this past summer.  All of her inventory. The building out of which it operated that she owned, will be condemned.  The building was not in a flood zone and she had no insurance.

OUT OF DIFFICULTY, LIES OPPORTUNITY.

I must also add that Marilyn feeds the homeless on the Northside of Pittsburgh every Monday.  One of Marilyn’s business goals for EarMuffers is to own a building out of which she can help the homeless and rehabilitate them to get back into the workplace.  A portion of the proceeds of every EarMuffer purchase will be donated to this cause.  This reminds me of the few posts I have written about for-profit companies weaving non-profit/charitable causes into their mission statement (i.e. post about Build-a-Bear Workshop’s charitable causes). This post describes Blue Tomato Design firm’s charitable aims. See also  this post about corporate charitable contributions.

So what opportunities are knocking for you?

 

 

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