Interview by Mike Sullivan of Sully’s Blog
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Linda Nagamine is an inventor as well as founder and President of EZ Living Connection LLC, a privately owned company based in Hawaii. Linda has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Hawaii and a Paralegal degree, but never took any business classes. She has 28 years experience in the travel industry, and 2 1/2 years ago, at the age of 57 and without any formal business training, she retired from her day job to pursue her interest in inventing. What began as an idea to help solve a problem is now a business focused on creating beautifully designed, simple to use products to make life easier.
Linda started EZ Living Connection LLC, with the goal of helping people organize their homes. Somewhere along the way, she took another direction and invented the Fun Key Finder. As most people know, keys can be very elusive and tend to misplace themselves. As a teenager, Linda spent more hours than she can remember searching for her keys and it continued into adulthood. In a moment of “crazy frustration”, she decided to create a product that would stop the madness once and for all. Hence, the Fun Key Finder was born.
What exactly is the Fun Key Finder and how does it work? Has this eliminated your past frustrations and added some time back to your life that you would have otherwise spent searching for your keys?
The Fun Key Finder is a modern, stylish tool for purses and briefcases to have keys at your fingertips. Have you ever forgotten in what drawer you store your dinner flatware? Probably not! It’s easy to remember because the placement never changes. The key finder is based on the same, simple principles taught to us by our mothers, memory experts and professional organizers…..dedicate a single place for your keys and put them away in the same place when not in use. You’ll have keys quickly, in your hand in seconds, just as you do with your forks, spoons, and knives.
I’m amazed at how much time AND energy I spent looking for my keys in the past. Almost every morning I would start out the day frustrated and frazzled because I couldn’t find my car keys. I often spent 5-10 minutes searching through each room and enlisting the help of my husband, then once I located them I would dash out the door and speed to work! That’s NOT a good way to start the day!
I can now say life is great with the key finder and 95% of my time is spent doing productive things, NOT wasting precious time looking for keys.
I have seen the Fun Key Finder and it looks fashionable, not at all what I had imagined. I’m guessing the amount of time saved over a single person’s life time could really add up. What type of feedback have you received on the product from those who have purchased it as far as it’s usefulness?
I can honestly say about 97% of customers say ” I Love It “…three little words that say a lot, and if you are a woman you know it means the product is really good and it works to solve a problem. Mothers say it’s like having another pair of hands when they are juggling shopping bags and carrying babies, business women and men like its polished, professional look, and women of all ages say it is a must-have for personal safety – getting into cars and buildings faster, staying out of harm’s way.
I have seen the Fun Key Finder at several sites on the internet, including YouTube videos and QVC. What has been your primary means of marketing?
Boutiques, small to medium shops, have been the best venues. The key finder is a product that cannot be appreciated sitting in a pretty package on a shelf. Its’ unique qualities as a problem solver can be shown by demonstrating how to use it. That’s the advantage of seeing it on QVC and on video or having a sales person show how it works. It’s a challenge to have it in large department stores.
Are there other inventions or product ideas you plan to release soon? Can you offer a sneak peak?
I’ve just finished two prototypes for a dual release clip and key ring. The next step is to have friends and family test the prototypes, give me feedback with more tweaking and testing. The process will take at least another six months before it goes into production.
How difficult was it for you to decide to retire and pursue your passion? Did you feel that you were taking a large risk going into business for yourself?
The decision to retire was not too difficult. I wanted to start doing things I enjoyed that got me excited and out of bed in the morning. Sometimes you hear people say they no longer want to work for anyone or report to a boss. That was never my case and not my motivation to retire. I just wanted to do things that made me happy. Once my husband and I agreed on the details of taking retirement, it was an easy choice.
Going into business was a huge risk for me because of several reasons. I have no business background, I funded my own startup on a tight budget and I have a shy personality. Making sales calls scare me even after doing it for 2 1/2 years! I would much rather be designing new products. Now I have a new found respect for entrepreneurs.
With a background in travel, you didn’t have much business experience. Do you feel you have learned what you needed along the way? Would you advise others away from starting a business if they don’t have any prior business experience?
Prior business experience should not deter anyone from starting a business. I have learned not to be reluctant to ask questions and be willing to admit you don’t know what you don’t know. I’m on the phone a lot, easier than face-to-face, talking with people and asking questions all the time. Most people are willing and flattered to share their knowledge. Or I search the internet to get what I need from building a website to hiring marketing experts. I put in many hours and sometimes I feel I’m reinventing the wheel but I want to learn by doing. I’m a hands-on, need to know everything kind of person.
I’ve also made some very expensive mistakes along the way. In my eagerness to learn how to do business I took courses from “experts” in their field without doing my due diligence. I didn’t do my research by asking for references or talking with past clients. The end result was not getting what was promised, what was advertised and wasting my limited financial resources and time.
Do you have other words of advice for our readers ?
Find a way to create a business around something you’re passionate about and love to do.
“Don’t die with your song still in you”.
Find the right Domain Name for your business at Fabulous.com!