Ellie Brown: With An Idea That Sticks
Stay-at-home moms often miss the days of “what once was.” For Ellie Brown, that was having a successful career in pharmaceutical sales. Although that career is in the past, Ellie definitely has kept herself busy. She has two young boys; and as all parents know, this involves school drop offs and pick ups, homework, projects, sports, and activities on top of the every-day responsibilities that come with having children and being a stay-at-home mom. Ellie also has been involved in the community with ZEF and the extremely popular Z-Bowl activities that took place when the Super Bowl came to Indianapolis.
But then an opportunity came along that lured Ellie back into sales. Ellie’s sister, Becca Nelson, and Becca’s friend, Jennifer Pittman, had a new idea and a product they needed to promote. These ladies were creative, but they weren’t sure how to test the idea or get the product into the hands of actual customers. They knew Ellie would be the perfect person to help them with marketing their idea.
Based on experience, Becca and Jennifer saw the need for a product that they could reuse over and over and that could stick on surfaces without damaging them. Being resourceful types, they did patent searches and checked materials to find out what people were using for products similar to what they had in mind. Once they had done their research, they had a huge brainstorming session to think of ways they could use this material.
The first product they attempted was peel and reveal reusable “greeting cards.” A customer could buy a greeting card or a series of cards with pictures and quotes, for example, that could be peeled off to reveal the sender’s message. Normal greeting cards are thrown away after they have served their purpose; but if customers liked a particular peel-and-stick picture and message, they could peel it off and stick it on a cubicle and then remove it again and re-stick it on the refrigerator at home. And on and on.
Now they knew how to design and manufacture the product, but they didn’t know how to bring it to market. That’s where Ellie came in. She took Becca and Jennifer to a major trade show to show their idea. Even after demonstrating that you could peel and stick a card anywhere – the refrigerator, the walls, clothes – and then reuse and re-stick it, the buyers told them they liked the idea of the reusable greeting card but they weren’t sure that their customers would “get it.”
After receiving that feedback, and feeling defeated, the ladies regrouped and realized that while demonstrating the cards, they kept demonstrating the wearable aspect. This gave them a new idea. They would redefine their product. They would make something specifically to stick on clothes. “What would look cool on clothing?” they asked themselves. That was when the “Sticky Tie™” idea was born.
Ellie went back to Indiana and Becca and Jennifer went home to Raleigh, North Carolina. Ellie wasn’t sure that anything would come of the tie idea, but boy was she wrong. Becca and Jennifer got to work. Four months later, in May, 2011, the Sticky Tie was created – design, packaging, the whole thing – and the company evREwares® was created. Ellie was brought on as a partner to manage marketing and sales.
They set off to the National Stationery Show. Surrounded by delicate stationery offering whimsical designs, they were the loud, whacky ladies who were so hyped about their “crazy product.” They weren’t sure that this was the place they should be, but they stayed strong and their persistence paid off. The Container Store loved the idea and bought five styles to be placed in their “Winter Wonderland” section, which was all about cute and creative ideas for stocking stuffers. And so it all began…for real.
The partnership has been so successful, in part, because of today’s technology. EvREwares® is based out of Raleigh, where Becca and Jennifer live, but Ellie is able to do almost anything and everything she needs to do from Zionsville. Her office is her house. These days, Ellie works about 40 hours a week, but not the traditional 8 to 5 hours – and thank goodness for that. She can take calls and answer emails from the couch in her living room and still be available if one of her boys were to get sick in the middle of the day.
This creates a successful meld between being a mom who is available for her family, whatever happens, and being back in the ring as a sales rep. This is an ideal situation for Ellie and her family, as well as the business. She can be a mom who feeds her kids snacks in the afternoon and helps with homework, but who also can help run a successful international business – all at the same time. She knows, too, that none of this would work without the help of her loving and supportive husband, Jeff. He fills in the gaps, with help from other friends, when Ellie has to travel for business.
Ellie and the evREwares® crew are proud to be a woman-owned company. They are also proud that all products are created and services are performed right here in the USA. These businesswomen have shown that hard work and persistence pay off. EvREwares® has continued to grow. Now they offer several lines of Sticky Ties™ – collegiate, big guy, li’l guy, bowties. They also have sashes, locker décor, drink labels, and baby’s first years age labels, as well as custom labels and designs for businesses or homes.
Additional large retailers also have picked up their lines. You may have seen them in Urban Outfitters for a seasonal graduation line. You’ll find their products in Party City and Steinmart. They are about to be tested in Spencer Gifts, Hot Topic, Toys R Us, and Justice stores. Of course, living in Zionsville, we want to know where we can find evREwares® locally. Well, look no further than Ballerinas & Bruisers and Lesley Jane!
The company has some lofty goals for the next year or so. They are looking at special licenses and are hoping that a larger company loves their idea and maybe would invest – for these savvy business ladies have other ideas in the mix that they would love to bring to market! But Ellie says it is not about getting rich. She says, “It is about having a dream and not stopping. It is about having all the right parts, working together, and then watching as your dream blossoms.” Check out the full line of products at http://evREwares.com/