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July 25, 2023
John Rizvi, Esq.

Lynne Eichenbaum, CEO of NOMPI Gloves Co. and Inventor of GardenSleeves® – 877-728-7763

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00:00

Well, Happy Friday to you.

00:02
Happy Friday to you too, John, it's so nice to meet you and be here. Thanks so much for having me.

00:06
Yeah. So it's, you're inspiring and better. And we're so honored to have you here today. What I'd like to do just before we jump right into your bio, and I kind of know, as a patent attorney, there's times when I might forget a person's face or a person's name, like years later. But one thing I never forget is an idea. So we just kind of fixate on the the product, the idea and all of that. So I'm gonna start with that. And then we'll go to the background, because your background is incredibly fascinating, quite quite different from what's typical, isn't it better. So of course, those of you joining and I see viewers coming in now, when Eken bomb is an incredible inventor, she's got garden sleeve, which will make a lot more sense when you see a few of these slides. And of course, her background couldn't be more appropriate for the video, like you can see them hanging back there. But these are incredible sleeves. And they're they're termed garden sleeves. And they cover basically your entire arm. So here is a picture with with someone doing work in a barn. So obviously for hay, so that's not a garden. Here's just general, anything where you want to protect your hands like I can see a possible rope burn being avoided with the product. Of course, this is the what started at all, and when we'll get into that story as well is for gardening use. And then other uses as well. I don't know when you might be better at explaining this picture. What were they reaching in and trying to get something from it? Was it chicken coop? Or what is this picture?

01:50
Well, here in New Jersey, and I'm sharing a lot of a lot of places backyards with gardens, we have a tremendous deer population, bunnies, groundhogs so most of our gardens need to be fenced, whether it's with deer fencing or bunny fencing. So here, that's actually me, and I was reaching in to harvest my my beans. And when you're reaching into the netting, it's very, very irritating and scratching on the arms. So I always wear my garden sleeves so that my arms are protected, because nobody really changes into a long sleeve shirt. When we garden or when we weed. We see three weeds, we pick them. And next thing you know, we've got scratches or poison ivy or something on our arms. So that was sort of the brainchild behind the idea.

02:38
Perfect. And then of course, this is what your background made obsolete the needless to say they don't they, you don't just choose from two or three colors. Like there's a huge variety of, of options. Lin is an entrepreneur, she's an avid gardener. If you haven't guessed from some of the pictures. She's a mom and author. And this part is extremely unique, a former Associate Director for television production companies like Disney and ABC Television Group. So she's going to speak to us today about the garden suites and it is a patented and of course, what would a patent attorney worth their salt would not pick up and review the patent before an interview. So she's got a patented garden sleeve, it protects the skin against scratches, sunburn, Poison Ivy, mosquito bites, hay, rope burns, and the list could go on. So Lynn, wonderful to have you. Let's start with kind of at the top like how does somebody in bow tell us? Why don't you just tell us about your background? And how you got into first working in television. And then how you transition from that to an entrepreneur. Selling the garden suites.

03:53
Absolutely. Thank you so much, John. Okay, so I always loved television, and I had a business degree from WashU in St. Louis, Missouri. And I went to New York, worked in human resources for a while and realize that working behind a desk and HR just really wasn't fit for my personality. I really loved media. I love the whole television world. So being in the human resources department, I had actually the opportunity to see all the job postings, which was kind of fun. So my boss knew that I was, you know, sort of discontent with being there. So she got me a position in Lifetime Television working on two shows. I interviewed there I became a production assistant on the main ingredient with Bobby Flay, the famous chef, it was his first show, and handmade by design, which was a crafting show, and I met an amazing director named Mark genteel, who was the director at lifetime at the time. And one day he pulled me aside and said, Lynn, I was just given the opportunity to work on a brand new live television show new concept five women sitting around a table chatting with Barbara Walters called the view. Would you like to come with me? And the type A personality that I am? He said, You know, you're gonna have to bactine a live television show. There's a lot of live elements as opposed to tape elements. Do you think you can handle it? I had no idea how to do it. But you know, being the type a person that I am, I said, Sure. I can absolutely do it. Say yes, first learn how to do it later. And that's how I wound up at the view. And it was an amazing experience.

05:38
Well, and you, obviously you, you moved up, you progressed, but there was a point where you were no longer finding career challenges at the job. Right. And that's, that's where you felt like, kind of stuck. I mean, that's what brings a lot of inventors into inventing is they find themselves suffocating in like a corporate job environment, and they feel their creativity is, is being constricted. So tell us about how that experience went. And it's not easy. It's you know, sometimes, you know, when you hear stories about inventors, some of them do incredibly well, because they've hit rock bottom and either lost a job lost a position, had a business fail, and in those cases, they have nowhere to go but up. So the decision is a little bit easier. It's always harder when you have someone who's like at the top right at the top of their game. They have options. It's not as if, oh, you know what I have? What's the worst that can happen? I'm already broke. I'm unemployed. I don't have anything going for me. So let me try. Sometimes that's a route. But the tougher cases because in these cases, it's a decision in your case, it was a decision to walk away from a career that a lot of people are striving to get where you were right. Yeah. Tell us about that. It couldn't have been.

07:02
John, it was really hard. Actually. You know, I had been the backup stage manager, the backup associate director and the production associate for about four and a half, five years. And there was no upward mobility because everybody was so happy in their jobs, the Associate Director of the stage manager, it was a great show to work on. They were like my family. And it was a very difficult decision to leave. But I had hit the ceiling of where I was going to go in that particular show. So I decided to move on. And it was hard, because like you said, it was steady work. And I knew there was a big unknown. So I wound up moving on to a different show. And I did get an associate director position there. It was temporary. So it only worked there for about four or five months, I was fortunate enough to meet my husband, we moved down to North Carolina, I worked in public television down in North Carolina, I moved out to California with him again, you know, not knowing really where my future my career was gonna go. I hooked up with a public television station out there. And then when we moved back to New Jersey, I had started a family. And like many women, I had, you know, my mom was a stay at home mom, and I had every, I guess I wanted to be a stay at home mom as well, that was just you know, I applaud any woman who makes the choice to do you know, to have the full time career. But for me, it was, that was my choice. I wanted to be a stay at home mom for my kids. But there came a time when my kids started getting older, that I knew I didn't want to go back into New York City, we had moved back to New Jersey at the time, only about an hour from the city. And I knew I could not have that life again, because it was 6am to, you know, to 7pm it was tremendously long hours. It was tremendous stress. So I knew that I needed to start something different, a new career and, you know, it was there was a blank slate, I had no idea what I wanted to do. And interestingly enough, my son at the time was in second grade. And he was a voracious reader, and but he was afraid of anything scary. So the Harry Potter's and the even the magic treehouses were a little bit scary for him. So that lightbulb moment I had the light bulb moment over my head and I said, You know what I'm going to, I'm going to take my creativity and my love of storytelling, and I'm going to start I'm going to write a book series, which I did. So I wrote 10 books. I self published them under the title remote control adventures, which are right here. I have three of them here. And it sort of fuses my background in television with a Love for storytelling, and it's sort of a magical adventure. And I started doing author visits up and down the East Coast in different elementary schools. And it was a great, great segue for me.

10:13
Yeah, so Oh, and speaking at elementary schools to students who have read the book, I mean, there's nothing I posted on my Facebook. I think in the last couple of days. I had found a card that in elementary school student wrote to me, I went to speak about on career day about patent law. And it was, it's nerve racking, you would think, you know, I've done TED talks I've done been on stage plenty of times. But when I was in school, the people that came on career day, they had these exciting professions, like they were firemen and policemen. And we had a zookeeper come in with like a snake. What am I gonna do? You know, a patent attorney, how am I going to fire these kids and kind of show them how excited I am for what I do, but this letter is like, heartwarming, it's gonna go up on my wall. Like the inc 5000, whatever this this student, this student learning was brilliant. She said she wants to be a patent attorney when she grows up, thinking boy, I did. Definitely got across how I feel. So I can absolutely love and relate to you going up and down the coast talking to it's in your case, it's even different, like most of these students have read your book, right? Yes, yes. Gosh, that's, it's amazing.

11:28
Yeah, it's really great. And you're so right, speaking to kids is actually nerve racking. I remember, the second and third graders I spoke with were very they you know, because they had all read my book, they were upbeat. They were like, oh my god, they wanted to ask questions, everything. The fifth graders that came in looked at me like I had two heads. They were like, you know, what are you going to teach us and what was what you can do? Exactly. But they warmed up to me after a while, because, you know, I'm very I have to I'm very personable. And I really, I love what I do. I try to throw my heart into everything I do, whether it's television, or whether it's writing or whether it's sewing. And I think when you're passionate about something, and you're, you're telling people about it, it really like you with your position too. It just really comes across and resonates to the children or to the people you're speaking with because you believe in what you're doing.

12:28
Great. Great. No, absolutely. And it's so clear when I speak to you about your garden sleep in the same thing there. But with your books, I'm sure so you mentioned like the Harry Potter series and the magic treehouse. So the first step for a lot of inventors is not to go out or even author's like a lot of times they're not looking to go out and write the book. They want to read something they look to find it and when you found something missing, that's when you decided hey, let me fulfill that that void. And the same thing with the garden sleeves. I you know, you probably were trying to find a solution first and this is me just guessing because I'm doing this for 25 years. Most inventors are not Oh, you know what I'm gonna do I'm gonna go create a product that's not how it starts. It starts with you know, this thing is so annoying. And I want to solve it for myself. Like I don't care about anybody else like can I buy the solution somewhere else? And only when that fails? Do they're like you know what, if nobody's gonna make it, I'm just going to do it myself because it makes my life easier. So what was what tell us what kind of led you to gardening or was that something that you've always had like had as a hobby you are you're spot on

13:41
when it counts seriously when it comes to the garden sleeves and how I invented them. So when I moved to New Jersey they call you know the state motto We are the Garden State and we truly are the Garden State the weather here the climate, the soil, everything lends it lends itself to a very long robust growing season. So when I moved here, I'm sure you know Jersey tomatoes. You know we have peppers and corn and you know, just zucchini and cucumbers and beans, the soil and the sun and the heat and the the semi humidity in the summer really lends itself for a just amazing, amazing growing season. So I moved here in 2005 and I decided to start a vegetable garden in the backyard knowing that I was you know, in the Garden State so I have nine raised beds in my backyard. A raised bed is like a picture frame with no back. So you sort of flip the soil over in your backyard make a three by three space because you can't put it out you can't put soil on top of brass or the grass will grow through your bed. So you flip the side you put the frame on top of it you fill it with soil organic soil tossing your seeds, a little water and then let mother nature do its work. And it was so successful, I had so much fun with it and my kids would help me out with it. And what happened was I'm very, very sensitive. I have extremely sensitive skin, I don't have allergies per se, you know, to food or to anything, but when I when my skin touches, tomato plants, Poison Ivy squash leaves, I generally break out in a rash. So I would be gardening and my sleeveless because nobody wears a long sleeve shirt when they're gardening or weed or weeding or doing anything in the summer because it's just so hot. So I would be tending to my vegetables and I would come inside and the first thing I would do would be to scrub my arms with dish soap, because I would have little red blotches all up my arm. And he was irritating, but you know, it's just kind of what I did. So one day I was getting out of my car. And there were three sprigs of something growing in my rock bed. So I walked over, I put on my little short gardening gloves that ended at the wrist. I pulled the three springs from my rock bed, toss them in the garbage. The next day, I had poison ivy all up my arm. And I said this is ridiculous. I want literally I want a garden sleeve. I want a glove with an attached lightweight breathable blue sawn sleeve that's 100% Cotton, that can protect my arm while I'm gardening. And then I can literally just toss it in the wash when I'm done. So that I wanted that. So I went on Amazon, I searched all the gardening companies I looked at Ace Hardware I looked on so many emesis spent two and a half hours online looking for the product I had in my head. And honestly, shockingly, nobody made it. So I decided to miss it. Like you said, I decided to make myself a prototype. And I did I took you know a cheap gloves. These are my good gloves. But I took the cheap gloves that I had in my garage, I made a blue sawn sleeve with a very comfortable elastic band. I attach the glove, I only use 100% cotton fabric. So it's lightweight and breathable. I slipped it on I did my gardening, I took it off, I dropped it in the laundry instead of oh my god, this thing is amazing. So I made myself a second pair and then I would just rotate them in the wash.

17:30
Yeah, so it's funny you mentioned ahead in vendors, a lot of times you'll say there's nothing like my idea out there. And it's completely unique. But as a patent attorney, I found that you know, patent examiner's can even go outside the field to find something to use to reject an idea. When you say, you know, there may not have been a garden sleeve out there, but there's always an alternative. So, you know, to up to a car, maybe a bicycle would be the alternative, it may not appear to be in the same case, but in the same field. But when you mentioned full sleeve shirts as an option, the issue that I've had like and I you know, in South Florida, we face a lot of the same, like heat issues that you guys do in New Jersey and I've lived in New Jersey for several years that in the summer, you just can't like not only is it hot, but there's always that gap between where your sleeve ends. And even if your glove covers it invariably mulch or dirt or something gets inside and there's it's horrible. And then your your fingernails get 30 Like the whole glove, everything is the benefits are eliminated of having the glove and then it ends up being you just take the glove off because you're better off and cleaner without having that. So that was what I like about your and I don't know if that developed during the prototype phase, or you just knew from the beginning that it had to be seamless between the glove and the sleeve that you can't have a gap. So it's separable right there. The one part it's not like they unzip or separate.

19:08
Yeah, so my patent is actually for sewn on. Or velcroed on or snapped on or zippered on. So I wanted to make sure yeah, I wanted to make sure I had coverage for all of those and I was protected for all of those. But my whole idea because I am you know a stay at home mom. And there are five people in my family of three kids, a husband and me our laundry situation is insane. And there are so many clothes that come out of the wash every day. I just wanted the sleeve attached to the gloves so that it was one piece that would come out of the wash. I wouldn't I didn't have to hunt for the glove and hunt for the sleeve. It was just one piece that I put on and one piece that I took off. And interestingly enough like you know we're talking about deer in New Jersey. The ticks situation here the deer tick situation in the Lyme situation is very serious. In the northeast, specifically also Massachusetts Martha's Vineyard, they have a terrible problem with ticks. So the nice thing about the gloves with regard to the deer and the ticks is that the ticks can't get in, they can't go up your sleeve, they can't go into your glove. So it's not just for poison ivy. It's also for the ticks. And for the scratches and for you know, so many other things. And for the dirt, like you said in the mulching, and it's just they're they're incredibly handy.

20:38
Yeah, so well, so that. So that's an additional like that without having openings, then there's no way they don't get inside. Like that would be a further advantage. And I'm sure even some of the non gardening uses, like for example, Hey, in like a barn or whatever, you don't have to deal with that either. What would you say is the what are their obstacles? Say I always ask this, like some inventors laugh and he said were there obstacles but because I've yet to say have an inventor say oh, you know what, I can't really relate to an obstacle in my journey, what were the biggest obstacles you faced, in bringing this product to market? Alright, so

21:17
I'd say that I can identify two of the biggest obstacles I had. The first one was the name of my product. And this for you know, for our listeners, this is really important. I was a little stubborn at first, and I wanted a really cute acronym for my product. So I said no more poison ivy nombe I'm gonna call my gloves, nombe gloves. And I wound up spending so much time at trade shows and you know, to potential customers explaining the name to them. First of all, they would come up to me and say NaVi, let's not be are you not be. And it was kind of comical, but I would literally spend so much energy with each and every customer, try explaining to them what the name meant. And then they said, Oh, no more poison ivy, we get it. But we don't get poison ivy, and then they would walk away. So I felt like I had two things. A I was pigeonholing myself with regard to just poison ivy, because like you said, the gloves are for so much more than just poison ivy. And secondly, if your consumer does not understand the name of your product, or what your product is used for within the first 10 seconds, then you've lost them, or you're working too hard. So I, you know, sat back and I listened to, you know, too many people who had been mentioning to me that they thought maybe the name should be changed. And I came up with garden sleeves, which makes so much more sense, because that's what they are. They're a garden sleeve. So I re renamed the product garden sleeves, I had submitted a trademark on that, which I'm waiting to get back. And my website now is my garden sleeves, my Facebook pages, my garden sleeves, and it all makes so much more sense to people. And I'm actually shocked at how little I have to explain the product. Now. I would also say the second obstacle that I faced really was COVID because I was going to big Flower and Garden shows up and down the East Coast. I went to the Connecticut show the Phillies show the jersey show. And then COVID hit right after the Philadelphia Flower and Garden Show in 2020, which was held in the Expo Center. They hold it every year. I had incredible momentum after that show. And then literally, the country just shut down the world shut down. Right. So my market and my ability to go out and reach the customers or the potential consumers that I had been interacting with was was suddenly just turned off. So it was hard. It was hard for me and I'm sure a hard for a lot of entrepreneurs and small businesses when the pandemic hit everything just sort of ground to a halt.

24:07
So you had to pivot Have you like drastically changed how you approach trying to get the word out? I mean, I know some of the shows are opening up again, but it's still going to be some time. So I don't know if you've been looking at an online as an alternative until things take off. And so what I love I agree with you 100% On the naming like the new name, and especially online we have those short attention spans anytime you're standing immediately. But what you have going for you is just looked at some of the testimonials on your website and a picture's worth 1000 words. So pictures are really what conveys the the need and what it does. And you have a different picture for different environments. So if someone's working in a farm type environment like Good. When I look at I don't do like gardening as much per se, but in that we have two baby pet goats. And I say they're twins, they're, you know, they're the light of our, our house. So we've got, if you think you've got a busy home environment with three kids, you've got five kids, two baby goats and a cat. And the baby goats require a fresh hate every day. And I would just love as soon as I see that, I mean, now in the pandemic, of course, I'm coming to work a little more casual, but normally, I get home, it's almost dark, I want to give them hey, I don't want to run upstairs and change. It would just be wonderful that put these on. So my wife's tired of the sleeves and clothes. And she's like, you can't just come home and start feeding the goats. Hey, in the thresher, because it's, it's horrible. So that would be that's what I think everyone looks at it, but you've got had that picture of someone lifting hay with it. So that's perfect. And if anyone that's ever worked with chicken wire, or any kind of gardening wire, when they see that, that graphic, your mind immediately goes to the last time you had a scratch on your arm on your forearm from that, exactly. That's the stuff that I think for you, at least on an online basis is going to be a phenomenal plus, it's so easy to convey the idea and how it works.

26:23
Yeah, and I think a really important thing also is to know your strengths and your limitations or your weaknesses. And for me, it was it really is marketing and advertising and sales. I'm just not good at that. So I recognize that I've been in business for about I guess two and a half years. I got my patent about a year ago. And I actually did hire a publicist, I decided that, you know, after this past Flower and Garden Show, Philly actually decided to move it to FDR Park outdoors, they had the foresight after last year's show, to just proactively move it outdoors because they weren't sure what was going to happen this year. I sold 750 pairs in nine days, I single handedly by myself. I mean, it was amazing. And I realized that that point that was sort of the pivotal moment, I realized at that point that I really do have a product that resonates with an awful lot of people. And I need to get the word out, like you said, so I hired a publicist. And I'm doing more online, I have more of an online presence now. And actually, I will be going to the national hardware show in October. So I can present it to a wider audience. Ace Hardware should be there Home Depot, Lowe's, and I'm hoping to generate interest and enthusiasm. Right now I make all the gloves myself with a friend in actually in my basement workshop. And I know that that is unsustainable, because my company is sort of at a crossroads right now, I could keep it a little mom and pop shop, and just go to trade shows and keep it small, or I can scale and I will look you know, I can find a manufacturing facility or I can outsource it or I can license the patent. So that's sort of where I'm at right now. And the national hardware show on October should be a very interesting experience and opportunity to meet a tremendous number of wholesalers or, you know, retail centers that I can wholesale to so I'm really, really excited about that opportunity.

28:31
Okay, good. And it's just around the corner too. So, you know, to get here,

28:38
I know I have this, I have this great mannequin named Natasha, who I'm gonna bring with me and she just stands there and models the gloves all day. It's great.

28:45
Oh, perfect. So during because of this pandemic, a lot of people are zoomed out. So we put up kind of a hard stop on a half hour for these interviews. But I do want to end with one one question like with your experience, is there something that you wish you knew when you started about about inventing, or some piece of advice that that you would like to end with by telling other inventors like something to keep in mind?

29:11
Yeah, I would, you know, I would tell any inventor, don't let fear stand in your way. Because, you know, we fear so many things we fear success, we fear failure, we fear rejection. And if you can sort of develop a thicker skin and not let that fear paralyze you, and really be enthusiastic and passionate about what you're doing. You know, you will be much more successful whether whether you succeed or whether you fail, have that passion and try to get rid of the fear and just push ahead.

29:46
Love it. Love it. The one reminds me of a quote that one of the best parts of growing a business is not the things that you can buy, but the person you have to become. So I think in that process, you realize, gosh, you know what I have just you find yourself changed, because now you take chances you take risks, things that get knocked out of us in the, you know, over the years. I mean, it can track that natural, natural curiosity. They'll do try things and then they'll fall and then they'll try things and then it won't work. But over time, we lose that and we stay in our comfort zone. So kudos to you for for making an incredible pivot not just for your product, but with your career, like what was an amazing story of going from the corporate world and television and production into being an entrepreneur running Kevin, your own business. So thank you so much. It's been wonderful having you a real inspiration.

30:45
Thank you, John. I appreciate it. And thanks so much for having me.

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