How many times have you seen a cool product and thought to yourself:
Why didn't I think of that??
We're profiling some everyday inventors — people like you and me who came up with brilliant new products almost out of the blue — who took their ideas and made them a reality. (We're not too jealous.)
Meet Connie Sherman, the woman behind Hot Girls Pearls. Whether you’re having hot flashes, feeling the effects of a major heat wave, or you simply need to cool down, Sherman's portable personal AC is disguised as a chic pearl necklace (or bracelets and earrings). Toss them in the freezer, then throw them on and say good-bye to unnecessary sweating. Here's how she did it.
How did you come up with the idea for Hot Girls Pearls?
When I was 47, I was put on Tamoxifen as a preventative for breast cancer, after having a breast reduction. It was a pretty extreme decision by the doctor, as it is such a strong and poisonous drug. It turned me into 'the towering inferno' all year round. Because I was put on it, when menopause came calling, I wasn't allowed to take any hormone replacement therapy. I was just supposed to grin and bear it. I ended up a sweaty and depressed mess all the time.
It stopped me from going out, as I always needed air conditioning, even in January. I never wore wool again — only cotton — and would come home and literally stick my head in the freezer to cool down. When I had business meetings to attend, (I was an event designer at the time), I could break out in a sweat that had the others thinking I was nervous. I felt like I lost power and control, from just thinking that they thought I was nervous, which was far from the truth. After 12 years of suffering, I couldn't go on, and decided I needed something to wear that would be discreet, attractive, and work! I searched the internet looking for something, and all I could find were ugly bandanas. That's when I had the idea: I've got to wear ice cubes around my neck!
Can you remember where you were or what you were doing at the time?
I remember distinctly where and when it happened — March 10, 2010 — the day after we had a 36-hour snow storm! I was so happy during that storm, I took my dog out over and over, just to be in it. But on March 10, the sun came out, the snow melted, and I freaked out. While walking my poor little dog again, I screamed to myself that it couldn't be spring — that would mean summer was coming, and another horrible season for me. A light bulb literally went on, and I decided that a great necklace, filled with the same gel that fills an ice pack, could work.
What has been the hardest part about turning your idea into an actual product?
Figuring out what shape and size it would be, and who was going to make it. I searched the internet for prototype makers, and after many tries, found the person who makes those plastic ice cubes filled with water. He lives in Hoboken, N.J., and has factories he works with overseas. From there, it was pretty easy — some trials and errors until the right combination was found.
Where do you get your best ideas?
My ideas always come from what I need or want. I was always coming up with ideas growing up, but I never pursued them with the absolute conviction that I had with Hot Girls Pearls.
What is one product you’d like to see that doesn’t exist yet?
If I tell, someone else will do it. Why ruin a good thing?