Success isn’t guaranteed by hard work, but hard work is the main ingredient. Success is driven by passion because that’s what gets you through obstacles, setbacks, and rejection. Nobody knows this recipe more than the following four women who have achieved success while solving practical problems for the world:
1. Marion O’Brien Donovan and “The Boater”
Nothing fuels the fire of passion like the need to solve a frustrating problem. That’s precisely what Marion O’Brien Donovan experienced in 1946 when her daughter’s diaper was so wet it soaked through her clothes and bed sheets. This wasn’t a new experience, but it was the tipping point that drove her into action.
Determined to solve the problem of a leaky diaper, she raced to the bathroom and grabbed the shower curtain. She sat down at her sewing machine with a piece of the plastic curtain and created the first diaper cover designed to prevent leaks.
Her invention was simple. The diaper cover allowed a regular cloth diaper to be tucked inside and pinned or snapped around the baby’s waist. Donovan called her invention “The Boater” because it looked like a boat.
At first, she was rejected.
Although the need for Donovan’s invention is obvious today, she told Barbara Walters, “I went to all the big names that you can think of, and they said ‘We don’t want it. No woman has asked us for that. They’re very happy and they buy all our baby pants.’ So, I went into manufacturing myself.”
The rubber pants parents used to put on their kids to prevent leaks worked, but the pants caused diaper rash and the elastic was often too tight, leaving itchy marks on the baby’s skin. Donovan’s invention was a more practical solution to an unavoidable problem, but the mainstream companies didn’t see its value.
The proof of her commercial success came when Saks Fifth Avenue sold her product that same year and couldn’t keep it in stock.
Today her invention is a staple of modern life.
Two years later her diaper cover was patented, and she sold the rights to her invention to the Keko Corporation for $1 million. Her invention became what we know today as the disposable diaper.
2. Dr. Grace Lo and “Tooth Tissues”
Sometimes inventions are designed by professionals who see a need the general public has yet to realize. For example, many people mistakenly believe cavities aren’t a concern for baby teeth because they’ll eventually fall out.
As this dentist reminds us, “Most parents think that baby teeth are temporary and would fall off eventually, so their treatment is unnecessary. However, primary teeth or the milk teeth not only hold the space for permanent teeth, but the decay can transfer from the primary teeth down to the permanent teeth that are waiting below.”
This misunderstanding is what moved Dr. Grace Lo to create “Tooth Tissues” – natural bamboo dental wipes designed to safely remove plaque from your baby and toddler’s teeth and gums.
Dentists all over the US recommend this product to their patients for their babies and toddlers, proving once more that passion for solving a problem drives success.
3. Nina Farzin and the “Oogiebear”
As a pharmacist and parent of three kids, Nina spent a lot of time navigating colds and the flu, and was greatly affected by seeing her kids suffer as newborns and infants. It’s easier to relieve the discomfort of dry mucus in the nose of a four-year-old than it is a four-month-old. So, after searching high and low for an existing solution and coming up empty handed, Farzin knew she had to create it herself.
Passionate about helping other parents help their infants breathe easier, she invented the Oogiebear – a two-sided tool to gently remove both sticky and dried boogers. One end features a loop for removing sticky boogers, and the other end has a soft scoop for removing the dried ones. With safety in mind, Farzin designed her tool so it’s impossible to go too far into the baby’s nose or ear.
4. Michelle and Jamie – founders of Humm Kombucha
Sometimes the best inventions come in the form of fermented tea. Kombucha isn’t just any tea, though. This nutritious brew has fermented qualities that aid digestion. Kombucha is also filled with natural B vitamins and antioxidants, making it a perfect choice for a healthy drink.
After the stock market crash in 2008, Jamie and Michelle were drinking the brew, when Jamie realized its commercial potential. Michelle’s passion led her to spend years perfecting her mother-in-law’s kombucha recipe, and she turned it into the smoothest, delicious kombucha you’ll ever taste. It doesn’t have the usual bitter aftertaste most brews do, and their ability to smoothly combine flavors is exceptional.
They wanted everyone else to experience their joy, so they started a small scale brewing company called “Kombucha Mama” right in Michelle’s Kitchen. They started out by delivering one-gallon glass jars and collecting empty jugs the next week.
Their kombucha was so delicious, they couldn’t keep up with the demand and had no choice but to go big. They quickly scaled their operations, hired a staff, and renamed their business “Humm.” Their kombucha is now sold in stores all across the US.
What’s your passion?
If you’re still searching for that big idea that’s going to catapult you into the millionaire’s club, look around your world for a problem you can solve. Find an unmet need and then work on creating a solution. Find a problem you’re passionate about solving and don’t give up. Success is waiting. Kindle the fire of passion for making it your reality!