- Tell us something about yourself, your background:
I am a New Yorker transplanted on Long Island. I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was 15 participating in the Junior Achievement Program that teaches teens how to start-up a company, get funds, manufacture, sell and everything in between. Actually I was not an overachiever in school, but I excelled in the program representing, the county of Queens. Worked, got married, had a kid and lived a very nice life.
The change came when I was 56 and retired from my job as a law firm office manager. That very week, a local yarn store opened in my town. I was always crafty and working with wood, clay, yarn and every tool I could get my hands on. The correlation between entrepreneurship, and creativity melded together at that very yarn shop only weeks after retiring.
My grandmother who did not speak a word of English, nor a word of Italian, taught me to knit and crochet at the age of 8. It was wonderful in many ways for me to be able to share this bond. I always kept with it, but hard to find the time and it usually sat on the back burner. Now it comes together once more. I am 57, retired, spending several days a week improving my knitting skills and enjoying this knitting community.
- Tell us about the product you invented with a brief explanation:
My Two Ladies “adjustable Knitting Needle System”: My patented product is a knitting needle system that offers knitters an innovative knitting needle option. Using these needles, you can knit longer, faster and easier with less stress on your hands, wrists and upper body. Knitters are notoriously afflicted with hand ailments from overuse and repetitive motion injury. A sliding stopper on a pliable cord attached to each straight knitting needle, allows the knitter to adjust the tension of their project and hold hundreds of stitches effortlessly. Ultimately, use of the adjustable needle will reduce your pain and enhance your gain. When I invented these needles, I was not afflicted with any pain or arthritis type ailments and specifically liked these needles for the ease of knitting large projects and any project that has lots of stitches. Two years later, I had a serious accident, severely broken bones in my dominant arm, surgery and still burdened will nerve damage. I was not able to use any other needles. The irony of this is “I became my best customer”.
- How/Why did you start inventing. What set you off?
Inventing and creating are similar. I have always been a tinkerer and would work in my dad’s home workshop or help with repairs. I often tried to make something work better or easier. Inventing is an art and I was an amateur artist turned inventor. Life certainly took a wonderful and rewarding turn for me later in life.
- How did you get from idea to finished product?
As I was now knitting more often since retiring, I decided to tackle a king sized bulky blanket for my bed. While knitting this blanket, it was getting larger and heavier and cumbersome to say the least. The fun and relaxing aspects of creating was becoming more of a chore. I thought there had to be a better way to do this. Surprisingly, there was not. There are only two types of needles and no innovation in many decades. I had an idea pop into my head, grabbed some knitting tools and gadgets and created my prototype right there on the spot.
The journey continued as knitters were requesting I sell them. Others were suggesting “you need to get a patent”. I found my way and read many books and start-up documents. After conducting focus groups with my built in knitting network, it starting becoming real. I knew it was important to protect my invention and hired an Intellectual Property attorney. Applied for trademark and patent which was later granted.
The most challenging task was finding a manufacturer. I wanted to have a US company, but it was impossible for me to find, regardless of the cost. Every day I searched the web, made calls, emails, asked other businesses for referrals and suggestions. Most people were more than eager to help and mentor where possible. Eventually, I found a multi-generational family in India that created luxurious products by hand to perfection. We were mutually thrilled to be working with each other.
- Let us know of useful resources that helped you i.e. Books, websites, software etc.
My most useful resource was being selected as one of 100 entrepreneurs/inventors for a scholarship 3 day work shop, sponsored by HSN, as a participant in the “American Dream”. I connected with so many experienced and brilliant leaders. Upon returning home, I continued to meet with my local SCORE chapter. The mentors of SCORE are there because they want to keep entrepreneurship and small business alive.
- Where are you with your product? Where can we buy your product?
My Two Ladies patented adjustable knitting needle system now grew to become the “good for your hands” fiber art tools brand” in a micro-niche market. All My Two Ladies products are handcrafted in India by expert generational wood artisans and designed by me to include subtle and not so subtle features that promote ergonomics and the importance of quality tools and hand health.
My Two Ladies patented adjustable knitting needles can be purchased on my website, on the Grommet’s inventor platform, Zulily which is a HSN platform, local yarn shops. During the pandemic, virtual selling on fiber art shows such as Vogue Knitting Live have surfaced everywhere. I actually love doing these shows and get a rush of energy similar to attending a live trade show. One of my selling highlights was presenting My Two Ladies on Hochanda TV shopping craft show in England for a weekend right before the pandemic hit. It was a huge lift for me both professional and personally. Looking forward to getting back on the show when we are able to travel safely again.
- Social Media, Website and Video links:
Facebook: Alexis Mantione
Twitter: my two ladies
LinkedIn: alexis mantione
Website: Click HERE
Video link: Click HERE
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