Francis, happy Friday. How are you?
Good, John, thank you. Thank you for having me.
So it's so wonderful to, you've got such an inspiring story. I'm excited to have all of our, our, our viewers to hearing and I see them screaming in now. And we'd love to get into that. But I think a good place to start is with a short video that can kind of explain your invention. So and then we'll get into your background. But Jenny, why don't you go ahead and start with that
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So let me frankly start by saying this is I you know, I've been married, like almost 25 years, I've got four daughters. And those videos of those drawers that are just stuffed and overflowing. Like, I can tell you at least you could have taken that video in our household. That's not that's the norm. And I think part of the secret No, no pun intended behind the success you're having is that there are you know, it's a widespread issue. So you're not identifying some tiny, tiny niche market, you're identifying a need that perhaps half the living population of the world is facing. But one thing I'm going to start with is the name because you know, I'm a patent attorney. But we also do trademarks. And I'm a huge, I guess student of branding. And I know a good brand when I see one and your name is just phenomenal. So let's start with that hanging secrets what what went into that?
There's a great story behind that. So at the time, my daughter was studying to be a graphic designer. And I had already developed hanging secrets and I just remembered I got I couldn't figure out a name for it. So I was pondering hanging treasures, Brawley essentials, but I couldn't come up with the name and every now and then I would go to my daughter's room and say, Ashley, what about this name? And one day went to her room and I think I had said, What about keeping treasures? And she looked at me and she said, Francis, by the way, when we talk business, she calls me by my first name, she says, Francis, you want to make sure that your product name describes what your product does, so you don't confuse your consumer. And when she told me that, I said, Okay, well what does it do? I go, okay, it hangs in the closet. What is it hanging? It's hanging my Victoria's Secret rolls. So that's how hanging secrets came up. And I was very fortunate. My daughter actually created the hanging secret logo for us to
Oh, wow. Well, it's funny. Meaning part obviously describes the what it does, and we can tell that video and I find the term secrets kind of like you can think of, of course, Victoria's Secret but also you know, back in Victorian times, you know, not say the word, you know bra or panty Oh, they would say you'd have to say it in polite company. Or couldn't say that those terms in polite company. In fact, sometimes I mean, not too long ago, bras and panties, underwear, all of these items were called unmentionables, because you weren't supposed to mention them out loud. So that's where the secret part really ties in. It's very memorable. I think someone that just here's the product name, once it sticks. It's different than these, you know, like more descriptive type brands that don't have that aren't memorable, because you can't remember them minutes after you hear them. Of course.
And that's a that's a great point, John, because basically, it is a secret what we're wearing underneath, right? No one else sees it put us in a very good fight, you know,
and of course, it's not, you know, now it's okay to say it out loud. In fact, Prince Harry in an interview with Obama that that I heard, I think a couple years ago as the President of the United States, if he prefers Boxers or briefs, you know, so times have changed, but the mace is phenomenal. So great, thank you, who is your love hearing about how, you know how inventors come up with a name and how it is derived. And the story behind that interesting. But you know, what really blows that away is your background, as an inventor and how you got your start. Because in my field, I've been practicing for 25 years, a lot of inventors have this preconceived notion, that to be an inventor, there's this perfect mold, you've got to go to the right schools, you have to look a certain way. You've got to have a certain amount of money, and they have these preconceived notions of what it takes to be successful as an as an inventor. You you completely shattered that image on so many grounds. I don't know where we can you want to start with this. But this just your your humble beginnings for you and your family to see where you are now. And start there because I want the inventors or listeners that are on today, to realize that not to prevent themselves not to stop themselves from dreaming too high. Because they think that that's something beyond what they're capable of reaching, and not let society create this. Like, yes box that you're supposed to fit into. And that's, that's where I think that would be a phenomenal place to start.
Okay, sure. So my parents immigrated to this country from Mexico 1963. And they came in and they came to Bakersfield, California, and they were field workers. And I was also a field worker. So we were in Bakersfield, California, we were a field workers. And back in 1976, Cesar Chavez came out and said, You know what, he, they no longer wanted children under the age of 16 working in the fields. And you know, that's some really harsh working conditions. And I'm so glad he didn't want that. Because with that, my father realized that you know, what, 80% of his workforce, there's, there was seven kids, were no longer going to be able to work in the fields. And so at that time, my parents decide to move to San Diego, California. And at one point, John, um, you know, we were even homeless for a couple of months, living out of our car and working in the field. So very humble beginnings. And now I look back at it, and it's actually a blessing. Because, you know, once you've been homeless, there's no way you don't believe in obstacles, you know, you just want to keep on moving forward. And we were basically in Survivor Mode throughout my childhood. And at that time, I got married at a very young age. And I have been working for Costco for the past 27 years in manufacturing. And I believe that, you know, at work, we have a problem, we find a solution. So I basically transferred my skills from having a problem at home, to finding a solution. Never in my wildest dreams, did I ever think I would be an inventor, a patent holder, or even the video that you just show posing in lingerie, never in my wildest dreams, that I think I wouldn't be doing that. And again, it starts with an idea. And I think the biggest thing and the most challenging thing, because I constantly run into people, and I get asked, you know, I have a lot of ideas, and I just don't know which one to start with. But the basic is just getting that idea out of your head onto paper. And that's the first step. And I think once you, you figure that out, then things start to evolve. You start to see your product, your idea come to life. And I think a lot of people may get stuck in with all these ideas, but just taking that first step, that action step of taking it out of your mind and onto paper is It's huge. It's it's key. That's the That's the beginning process. That's you're having that aha moment and bringing that aha moment to life. My it's not an it's not an easy journey. My first hand sketch was in 2009. You know, I still hold a full time job. And I would do this and continue to do this. On the side. It's a side lunge. But it's so enjoyable. You know, I have long days, I start my day at three o'clock in the morning, and I ended at 10 o'clock at night, because I'm so passionate, and I really enjoy what I'm doing with hanging secrets.
Yeah. So and getting it as you mentioned, from out of your mind and onto paper. Those are, you know, that seems like a baby step. But sometimes that's, you know, it. It doesn't just happen overnight, like sometimes it's just held the idea in your mind for a long time, sometimes years before an inventor takes that step. It's hard to even imagine that with your product today. I mean, you're, you're selling on Amazon, you're on the home shopping network, I believe QVC as well, was that a recent?
We had one we had won a contest. On hanging Tigre have we won a contest through QVC sprouts program. So it was lunch there online. And then we also want another contest with HSN for Latino entrepreneurs, and it was on also on Hsn. You know what, but they're, they have a certain amount of quotas of units, they have to sell per minute per hour. And at that time, hanging secrets didn't meet their quota. But we are on Amazon, and we do have our website, WWE hanging secrets.com. So again, it's it's brand recognition, it's getting it out there and continue to, you know, have these opportunities to get brand recognition. You know, as an inventor, sometimes we think all we have to do is create this great idea that it's gonna sell on its own. And that's not the case, you know, you have to the same perseverance that you use to develop your product and inventor products. Now you have to put on another hat for marketing strategies and brand recognition, and getting it out there.
And, of course, this exposure of winning these contests has been instrumental in helping brand painting secrets and and getting the word out.
Absolutely, absolutely. Because again, you know, once you, you're in these competitions, and you can see now that your your product is made out of quality, and it passed the quality control of QVC and Hsn. with flying colors. Yes, that brings you more credibility, credibility. Absolutely.
And what was going back to the early part of when it was in your mind? And then you went to paper with a sketch? What was the aha moment? Where were you, you realize that, hey, there's a need for this? No, I
was going through the emptiness syndrome. And I had all this extra time on my hands. And I said, Francis, what are you going to do with all this extra time on your hands, I said, You know what, I'm gonna start cleaning and organizing my home. And I pulled out I started in my bedroom, I pulled out my drawer, and my bras and panties were a mess. I had my daily routine, I would pull everything out, throw it on the bed, search for that bra search for that Penny, grab it, put it back in the drawer, and then walk over to the closet and get my blouse. And they said you know what, this is not efficient. And sometimes John, I would even grab my bra and it still had the tag on it. And the bra, the bra cup was actually crushed, because he get crushed in the door. So at that point, I said, You know what, there has to be a better way. So I did my first hand sketch. And if you look, I still have my first hand sketch, I think it's very important for an inventor to keep a log a journal of everything they're doing. And I have my journal book. And I did my hand sketch. And it looks like if a second grader did it, you know, at that time I just the again, the key was getting it out of my out of my head and onto paper. And then from there, I was able to hire a graphic designer to create the guidelines and make it a prototype and make it come more to life. So there was several prototypes before we actually sent it out to get it manufactured, get it manufactured prototype by a professional.
And, you know, as a as a patent attorney, I see a lot of those initial sketches. So I know exactly what you're talking about. And sometimes it's just, you know, they do look like they could be done with crayons on paper. I think prototypes that are made out of foam cups and playdough and cardboard, whatever any veteran could find. Yeah, yes. We'd love to hear about your first prototype and wait, what went into creating that? Sure.
Oh, my goodness. Sorry, I got a call. What went into that was that at the time Costco was selling bathing suits and they had a plastic body and it had the bra shape the bra cups. So I went in and asked for a few samples. It's insurance. I went home I cut out Got the brass section, the part that I needed, I had my sister helped me so because she knew how to sew, and we put it together cost me about 20 bucks, and we did it on your on my kitchen table. And but once you actually create your prototype, you realize, you know, the, you have to test it to see if it functions is it functional. And by creating a prototype, that's the only way you're going to know, it takes a different a different form from when it's a hand sketch to the actual prototype. And, you know, the advice that I could give now with the experience that I have is that when you're developing the prototype, see how small, how foldable and how light, you can make it. Because you have to remember if you're going to ship it to a to a customer, you know, the weight, the weight, that the size of the product is really going to determine your shipping costs. And at that time, five years ago, when, when I was in the r&d of handgun secrets, I didn't think of that. And now whenever I get that opportunity, I said, You know what I tell inventors, when you're in that r&d process, see if you could fold it, make it lighter, you know, and see how cost effective you could make it because again, there's a shipping cost that's involved. And if you don't do that at the very beginning, you know, you'll you'll pay for it later.
Well, that's That's great advice for inventors, sometimes will you even see the market of products that are lighter and more compact, beating out other products simply because the shipping plays such an important role now with the way people shop. So it's important to be to adapt as an inventor, and, you know, inventors are resourceful, you know, you adapt, and you try to figure out the best way to get your product to the end user to consumer.
Yes, and with this, you know, so much online shopping now, the shipping nuts, you know, you have to be aware of that cost.
And so how many iterations of prototypes did you go through before you got a final version?
I would say at least for at least four. Yeah. And, you know, again, I believe another transferable skill, you know, you have to have a quality item, you know, a quality product, you can, there were other routes where you can get a better price. But again, with my manufacturing experience, the quality is your brand is your, you know what the customer experience is going to be. So keeping that in mind, also, sometimes, you know, when you're negotiating prices, or working with different vendors, different manufacturers, you know, I always recommend get three quotes. And sometimes the cheapest quote is not the best quote, it's, you have to really look at the quality of the product, and also, you know, the relationship with the manufacturer, you know, are they promising? Are they keeping their promises and saying, you know, your sample will be done by this date? And when they ship it to you? What type of condition does it come back? And you know, is it? Is it did it get damaged through transit. So, a lot of things during that process, when you're sourcing out vendors, you can determine, again, which vendor which manufacturer is going to be the most compatible with you. Because it's it's a, it has to be a win win for both parties. And quality was the number one thing that went into the development of hanging secrets, and, and again, you know, winning those contests and having hanging secrets, Pastor quality assurance with flying colors, you know, that was paid off, it paid off.
So and, you know, I have as a patent attorney, I'm constantly finding that there's this misconception out there, that new idea that there's some complexity requirements before the patent office for issue or Pat, I'm trying to think of it right here. And there's there's many examples, but like the post it note is one example of a patented product. That's it's fairly simple. It's like paper with removable glue. Did you find with hanging secrets, I know you went ahead and obtained a patent. Did you have to struggle with that thinking, gosh, is this you know, it's not a complex machine? It doesn't have moving parts, it doesn't use electricity. Is this going to rise to the level of something that you can protect? Was that an obstacle that you were grappling with? Or are you just had the mentorship or the knowledge to know that hey, this thing is unique?
Yeah, no. All I knew was it. I googled the heck out of it, and I didn't see anything like it. But I was fortunate because I had a friend who worked for the patent office, and he went out on his own in Korea and he became a Patent Agent. So with his help, we were I was able to obtain my patent. But I had no idea that sometimes even if you Google it, you know, you have to do a patent search because maybe the idea, and the patent was issued, but the inventor never brought it to market. So that was one of the things that I learned during this process that sometimes even if you Google it, you know, that's not going to be it's not going to guarantee you that it's you're not infringing on someone else's, on someone else's patent. So in that case, I was fortunate enough that I did have a patent agent that was able to sort that out and figure it out. But I had no idea all the details and all the requirements you actually need in order to be issued a pattern. So I consider myself very fortunate.
Yeah, and it's funny, you mentioned, going to Google to look to keep your ideas out there. You're also fortunate in a sense that there's a lot of risks associated with doing searches, in my mind, either the corporations, but after all, there's there's people that, you know, like Amazon and Google that see search terms, there's marketing companies that get access to search terms. And if your terms are simple enough, you might give away the idea the often uses, if you invent a glow in the dark cave, and that's what you type in is glow in the dark, tiny, it doesn't take too much imagination for somebody to see those and figure out what you have. But the fact that your patents granted, of course, means that your first cause patents are awarded on a first to file basis, which considering huge market share that you're going after. And, you know, that's a huge accomplishment. Because there are products and I've never seen them for hanging like bras or panties or things like that. But there's plenty of products to prevent damage in a washer or a dryer. And it's I find it after learning more about your product, I find it ironic that people go through all these steps to make sure that their bride doesn't get damaged in the dryer or in the washer while cleaning. And then just stuffed them into the store. Like even jam packed. And even if it's not just taking you know, there's no way to really layer inside a drawer. So you've got basically exactly what you mentioned, take a bunch out, throw everything on the bed or whatever on a countertop, whatever is close by, take what you want, and then stuff everything back in. And that's that's one of the key things that inventors do as they try to identify a problem that they believe is widespread. Did you did another doubt. And another I think limiting belief that holds inventors back sometimes is this thinking that okay, I'm dealing with this. But it's just me that other people are not facing this issue or are not bothered by it? Was that something that that you had concerns about? Or are you had as being you know, one of I believe seven kids and you have kids yourself? And you just realize that this is not just you. This is not just me. This is going to help other people as well?
Yeah, well, once I did my hand sketch and once I did the prototype, and I started asking, I started getting curious exactly like what just wait a minute, am I the only one having the problem? Or is everybody else's? So I started asking around. And you know, this came to random strangers to family members. And yeah, I started to ask and the ladies were saying, Well, I put mine in a shoe box so they don't get damaged the real fancy ones, the expensive ones, or I placed them in in the closet and I just line them at the top of the counter. And other ladies were saying, Well, you know what, I get socks, I roll them up and I put them in the cup so the cups don't deform. So I had all these different versions of how women were actually trying to protect their bras, or I hang them on the doorknob. Or I have hanging them on the towel rack. Or I hang them over the door. So everybody has a different version of taking care of their balls. So I knew at that point I go okay, yeah, no, I'm not the only one. So it's
funny you mentioned that because a lot of times a key to for an inventor is seeing how others are improvising in consumers can make a product work for them that the manufacturer doesn't address like one just one example that I think we've all seen somebody using a walker, and they'll take a tennis ball, I'm gonna hold this up and the tennis ball on the bottom to help it slide or to kind of to help with shock absorbing as well. Like if the manufacturer makes the product the right way, obviously now, there this feature is built into a lot of walkers. They have slightly mechanisms, they have shock absorption. But it wasn't always that way. Because the designers were not looking at that. Many times, they were not using a walker themselves. So the person that designs it walks around a conference room a couple of times since it's done, but they don't have to take 1200 steps in a day. Oh, you know what this is uncomfortable. A lot of what's happening with, especially products for, or any type of products for women is that for years, the designers were men. So they were not the ones that were having to store bras or panties or figure out how to take them out. They weren't addressing that. And that, that is changing with a lot more engineers and inventors becoming women. But I think I had heard an interview from you before that you're shocked at the small percentage of inventors that are female.
Ryan, John and I have a tagline for that, you know, it takes a woman to know what a woman needs. Right? And that's what we need to organize, because we're experiencing a challenge. And and a lot of times when I, you know, I've got the opportunity to pitch it to an all men panel. You know, sometimes this is wow, I didn't even know that was a problem. And I said, Well, have you seen your the balls hanging on the door? Hey, they know that they hang on the door, but they didn't really know why they were hanging on the door. Right? So again, and five years ago weren't one we launched hanging secrets, I reached out to a patent attorney. And she I was just curious, because I'm a little data driven. And I was just curious, I asked her, you know, what's the percentage of women receiving patents in the United States, so she did some research. And at that time, in 2005, she came back with, you know, only 7% of patents issued in the United States are issued to sole female inventors. And less than half a percent are issued to Latinas. And on an average, at that time, it was like 10 to 12% of patents issued that had one woman's name on on the patent. So at that point, I officially officially made myself the female ambassador for for women inventors, because, you know, if we don't bring awareness of those numbers of that data, how can we, you know, how can we address that, that challenge where half of the population, we should be coming up with half of the ideas of, of problem solving. So again, I I very strong believer, and whenever there's an opportunity like this, and I thank you for this opportunity, I always like to bring awareness to that. And you can't do it alone. It's a very tough journey. It's a very tough journey, and you can't do it alone. So again, supporting the community of women to become inventors, that's, you know, that's something very dear to me.
And, you know, as you know, I'm an engineer as well, but you don't have to be an engineer to be able to do the math to know that if 7% of patents are are solo female inventors, that 93% Are, are not. So there's a huge disparity there. So when I had said at the beginning, that you're really breaking a lot of stereotypes that people have about inventors the type of background that they're supposed to have the type of education, whether they're male, whether they're female, there's this perception out there that inventing, it's great, but it's for people of privilege, right? You grow up with it, you have the luxury of sitting around, you know, maybe on a trust fund and just coming up with ideas. So it does a lot to hear from somebody who was actually was doing farm work grew up doing farm work, you know, with a traditional, like, visions of wealth and privilege that some people think and vendors must have, and launched the idea while working full time. And, you know, is in being a mom and the whole bit like there's so much goes into inventing. And I don't you mentioned the hours. I don't remember them now. But they sure sounded like something until
3am In the morning till 10pm at night. Wow. Yeah. For the past for the past five years, going on six years. But again, you know, hanging tickets is my passion. And I really enjoy what I do. I get to meet a lot of people, I get to, you know, learn a lot more and I love to learn and I think when you are open and love to learn, you know, it gives you the energy that you need. And I really want to say John, the only difference from me and from someone else who has an idea. The only reason I'm an inventor is because I took action. That was because we're all very creative. We all have our aha moments. And again, it's Just taking action, believing in yourself, and knowing it's not going to happen overnight. But if you truly if you truly, you know, believe in your problem, a problem that you're solving, you know, you can make it happen. You just need to take action and surround yourself with, you know, some great resources. There's a lot of resources out there that can help you now than what it was back in 2015.
Well, what a phenomenal, I can't even think of what else could typically I'll end with, like, what advice would you have for other vendors out there, but that your advice is just golden. It's so onpoint. You know, we're out of time. I know these days, we pandemic, everyone is kind of zoomed out. So we have to promise a half hour. But I would love to have you come back. There's so much more that we can go into. And in terms of prototyping, the marketing aspect. You're just such a phenomenal spokesperson for the product. And you said it best like about 510 minutes ago when you said you know, sometimes it vendors think that the hardest part is coming up with the invention itself. And their skill sets. I to that, but you were so many different hats as an inventor, in being the chief publicist and PR person and an important aspect. You could have an entire show just done on an island that you've taken there. But we'll have you come back for that for now. I want to thank you, John, you've got a busy day ahead of you as well. So thank you so much for joining us and for providing your knowledge and your inspiration to the investing community.
Thank you, John. Thank you for having me. And again, I'm on LinkedIn, I can be reached in on LinkedIn so any of your viewers would like some advice I'd be more than happy to help and support.
Terrific we'll have I have a group on Facebook, the inventors mastermind and we'll post your information there so oh some there is some right here. Jenny's put it on the chat channel now. But it does a search on Facebook for the inventors mastermind. Contact frame Francis that we thank you so much. Have a wonderful Friday and a wonderful weekend. Thank you You too. Bye bye
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