5 Simple Steps for Organizing your Fashion Jewelry

© Joan Lefkowitz

Fashion jewelry, for most women, is like coffee and chocolate: it perks up our wardrobe and stimulates our senses. Jewelry shows off our personal standard of fashion savvy, and just like chocolate, the more we have of it, the happier we are. 
The problem with accumulating an abundant collection of fashion jewelry is in assorting and organizing it to be ready to wear at a moment’s notice. How, then, do we manage all of these pieces without them constantly knotting into tangled piles? Here are 5 simple steps to get your fashion jewelry from mess to managed.

1. PICK n’ Pile

Begin by spreading a cloth onto a large table and piling your jewelry on the surface. Relax and have a good time with it, make it a game. The fun challenge will see you through the task.


Separate all necklaces, necklace sets, earrings, brooches, bracelets and rings from one another into individual categories. Place the items in piles in separate rows, making sure that they don’t tangle or catch onto one another. Seeing everything in neat division is the first accomplishment, you have just done the difficult part.

3. SORT ’em

This is the “ready to wear” step of the process. Categorize your jewelry as you might categorize your looks – day; sport; evening; dinner or party. Assort each category by color, material and metal, and use baggies and labels to keep them organized. Mark special pieces for particular outfits, such as, ‘for black one shoulder evening gown’ or ‘goes with pastels.’


Create a separate category for “Jewelry Problem Solvers” – extra earring backs, fashion tapes, earlobe patches, and bracelet closure aids. Polishing cloths, jewelry cleaners, adhesives and tools should also be included in this category. These are good adjuncts to have in your collection to keep your jewelry clean, attractive and usable. If you don’t have these items you can easily get them online or at an arts and crafts store.


Dispose of loose beads and broken parts that you will never fix. Now go through your newly assorted jewelry and remove any items that you no longer like or will never use again. Rather than throwing them away, you might want to offer them to friends and family. The best pieces can be donated to charity or given to a consignment shop. Or give them to a school to repurpose for arts and crafts projects.

Now that you have done the hard part of preparing and pruning your fashion jewelry, you get to have the fun of choosing your jewelry storage organizers. There is a large selection of storage options out there but how do you decide which one is the best for you?

Stay tuned for “10 Simple Ways to Store Your Fashion Jewelry.”


Joan Lefkowitz, an original marketer of TopsyTail TM, is president of ACCESSORY BRAINSTORMS, NYC, a licensing agent, sales representative and consultant for Hair, Fashion and Beauty Accessory Inventions. She can be reached at 212-379-6363 or on the web at www.accessorybrainstorms.com . She is always looking for inventions in the fashion/beauty accessory and lifestyle categories.


How to Succeed in the Fashion and Beauty Invention Market: 7 Bang or Bust Stories that will Blow You Away

From the overwhelming success of TopsyTail to Snuggie’s initial slow start, transforming into a success story, the market sees thousands of new products every year; but only few rise to iconic status. Accessory Brainstorms explores some of the winners and losers of the past decades and recognizes key elements they share or lack, which may influence their outcomes.

Bang! From Unknown to Renowned:

topsytailTopsyTail – early 1990’s, was the first fashion/hair accessory tool to appear on a TV infomercial. Huge demographic: ‘If you can ponytail, you can TopsyTail,’ ‘magically’ turns a ponytail into numerous innovative hairstyles. The well-made commercial caught on with the public and was broadcast globally. Supported by sales, top notch public relations, demonstrations and videos in department stores, TopsyTail was then sold at mass market retailers for $15 and included an instructional video. TopsyTail went on to become a $100 million success story, catapulting its inventor, Tomima Edmark onto the covers of countless magazines.

Side note: TopsyTail started out with sales to small boutiques and did not make headway until it was repositioned into department stores by national sales representatives. The first product-run contained flaws that made the tool vulnerable to cracking. The inventor quickly removed the stock, reworked the manufacturing and oversaw quality control for the entire life of the product. She also successfully defended her patent against knock-offs, which seemed to appear overnight once the TV commercial was aired.

REM Spring Hair Removal Tool – 2009, manually used spring-like tool removes facial hair; invented in Israel and brought to the US by a savvy young businesswoman, was originally marketed to beauty professionals, beauty shops and spas through demonstrations and sales at beauty products trade shows. Discovered by a New York sales representative who arranged to sell it into mail order catalogues nationwide, REM Spring eventually landed on the pages of Skymall Magazine. With its consistent exposure in catalogues and high perceived value that has not diminished over time, this single product, which solves a universal problem for women, has sold in the million of units. REM Spring recently added a line extension, a hair growth retardant gel geared to the same demographic, which builds further its market niche of non-electric, non-depilatory hair removal.

Side note: REM Spring is has spawned various copies in lower price points with no negative sales impact on REM Spring ‘the original,’ which retails for $19.95.

Avon Skin So Soft – still going strong after more than 20 years. Originally marketed as a skin softener, women found it to be a standout product in terms of its effectiveness even healing cracked skin and preventing stretch marks. Marketed exclusively through Avon’s army of personal sales representatives and through home parties, the company already had a big hit on its hands when it was accidentally discovered that Skin So Soft has attributes of a Bug Repellent. The market for this product has grown exponentially into a diverse and large demographic, which includes use in the military, with gardeners, construction workers, athletes and sports fans, and for use on pets and horses. Skin So Soft, which sells for $10 and under, has sold multi-millions of units and has also been found to be useful in 100 different ways from grease and gum removal to cleaning and softening leather.

Busts! Remain Unknown:

Polaroller – mid 1990’s, well designed ergonomic handheld rolling icepack. Its cardboard box was bulky and did not clearly reveal the use and beauty of the product. The product sold in mail order catalogues and through TV shopping programs with explanation and demonstration, but failed at retail stores, most likely because consumers saw the box, but could not see the product inside. Already in production and stocked with the boxes printed, the inventor was denied rights to use of the name due to a pre-existing trademark. The rights to manufacture the product were subsequently purchased by a foreign company and it is not commonly known to be available in the US.

Side note: The trademark should have been researched and cleared prior to use. See-through, possibly clamshell packaging designed to show the product and its features, would have clarified the use of product upon first viewing at retail.

Retail shelves are overcrowded with products that compete for attention. According to industry experts, a product has only 6 seconds to lure a consumer in, so product inventors must make sure their packaging grabs attention. When choosing packaging or display options, consider incorporating eye-popping colors that draw attention. Packaging must suit the product and speak directly to its target market making sure it communicates idea, mood, spirit, and personality of the product.

Bowrette – mid 1990’s, intended as a follow-up product to TopsyTail, the Bowrette was a barrette that transformed scarves into hair bows. The product was a casualty of poor timing, arriving on the market at the end of a trend cycle for hair bows. It served neither the same nor a vast demographic as did TopsyTail. It did modest sales through advertisement call-ins and on the Internet.

Side note: Products that are subject to evolving trends, local style preferences and variations in consumers’ tastes are generally not well positioned for major national sales success.

FrantiesFranties – 1996, the first panties with built in fragrance. Franties came in three styles with time-released scents that lasted up to a year of laundering. The scents were keyed to the color of the panties; the rose tone reflected the scent of wild rose, ivory emanated the scent of vanilla, etc. Franties were offered in a large size range and were hypoallergenic. The product launched at J. C. Penney and Marshall Field’s department stores. The attractive packages were stacked on a table in the intimate apparel department. Without publicity or advertising by the retailer, there was no draw for consumers to seek out the product. Lost in a sea of big name brand products, sales went flat. Although the product received mostly favorable reviews, some found the scent to be too strong, (causing attention to it) before multiple washings. There was also some criticism of the placement of the fragrance patch in the center top of the panty, taking ‘center stage’ so to speak.

Side note: A specialized product, not supported by a major brand name, should have been launched in completely different venues. If Franties had been placed in lingerie and gift shops, it could have been positioned, promoted and romanced by shop personnel. Since Franties were available in sizes up to 3X, they could have been offered as a featured item in specialty large size apparel stores. Launching in the correct channels of distribution will make or break a product. Some consumers may have preferred that the scent and its placement be more discreet in intensity and location. This could have been resolved with proper product testing prior to the launch.

Industry experts say that four of five new products will fail in the marketplace, so product testing is essential and should be done prior to investing heavily in a product. Due to advances in technology and social media, there are several effective and inexpensive ways to test products without hiring a professional testing company. Once your product is patent pending, you might consider creating a website and driving targeted traffic to it by advertising on Google AdWords. This will give you an indication of consumer response and interest. You can even utilize your website as a survey tool, similar to a focus group, to ask people if they would be interested in purchasing your product and if so, at what cost? Using social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn may also be a great way to gauge interest from people you trust.

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for success. It takes more than a great invention to create a successful launch . The “busts” had issues with packaging, lack of advertising and testing, and failure to reach a wide demographic.

Bang then Bust! First Unknown then Renowned:

snuggieSnuggie – 2008, non-patentable blanket with sleeves, originally minimally marketed by small companies as the Freedom Blanket and The Slanket, had very limited sales. Then savvy DRTV company, Allstar Media, tweaked the item, and created an iconic and humorous TV spot calling the product “Snuggie.” The product, which hit a note with celebrities, was much discussed on TV talk shows and its commercial and parodies spread virally on You Tube and blogs. It resonated with the public and went on to sell 20 million Snuggies by 2009 on TV and through mass market retailers. To further the craze, the company created line extensions including Snuggies for Pets, Snuggies for Kids and Customized Snuggies.

Dog Snuggie

After examining the success of the “bangs” it becomes clear that these product launches  had certain things in common. They were very useful to the consumer whether they created new hairstyles, removed unwanted hair or had multi-functionality for personal or household use. They advertised wisely or received much publicity, and effectively spread their messages to the masses. TopsyTail, with its exposure through TV infomercials, reached a worldwide demographic through its advertising. Skymall Magazine and catalogues generated consumer awareness for REM Spring, and both Snuggie and Avon Skin So Soft benefitted from word-of-mouth and well-placed publicity. In all cases, the products were affordably priced below $20.

So, if you are aiming your invention towards a big “bang,” carefully consider patents, product testing, packaging, publicity, advertising, and price point. You must do your homework because, as the old adage goes, “you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.” With the right dose of research and marketing know-how, your invention can make quite a big “bang” with the potential to become the next must-have product .

Joan Lefkowitz, an original marketer of TopsyTail ™, is president of ACCESSORY BRAINSTORMS, NYC, a licensing agency, sales representative and consultancy for Fashion/Beauty Accessory and Lifestyle Inventions. Accessory Brainstorms is always looking for inventions in these categories, and offers one-on-one consulting. ACCESSORIES Magazine awarded Joan for “Most Inventive Products” and cited her as one of the 100 most important accessories industry “Movers and Shakers”. Contact at www.accessorybrainstorms.com.

Learn How Bumpits & Topsy Tail, Legendary Hair Tool Inventions, Made Millions in a Recession ©

In the last 20 years, the United States has experienced two rough recessions.

We’ve all heard the hemline theory: Bullish times raise hems; bear markets drop them. A similar phenomenon seems to happen in hair fashion. Hair goes up in down markets. At least it did for two hair-related inventions.

TopysytailTopsy Tail arrived at the outset of the economic downturn in the early 1990s and Bumpits during the so-called Great Recession in 2008. Both products were wildly successful, grossing more than $100 million.

Topsy Tail was the hairspiration of Tomima Edmark, who came up with the idea after being laid off from her marketing job at IBM.

Edmark’s eureka moment struck at a movie theater when she spotted the woman in front of her wearing her hair in a French twist.

Edmark realized she could use crocheting needles to turn a ponytail inside out and make numerous hairstyles.

Trial, error and few prototypes later, in 1989 Edmark created Topsy Tail – a thin piece of plastic shaped like a mini-tennis racket that allowed users to easily turn the common pony tail into a variety of enviable hairdos.

Topsy Tail entered the market in Dallas boutiques. Edmark hired my firm, Accessory Brainstorms, which got the product into department stores.

Edmark also signed a deal giving an infomercial company exclusive rights to sell Topsy Tail, with the exception of department stores, further boosting sales.

The Topsy Tail brand was sold to Scunci in 2002. After an initial attempt to repackage the product into a kit, Topsy Tail remained a sleeping asset. Now Conair (which bought Scunci) has it available to consumers, after having been off the market for decades.

While Topsy Tail was a hit, Edmark’s follow-up products didn’t fare as well. After a slump, however, Edmark is back. She founded HerRoom.com, one of the largest online retailers for lingerie. The takeaway: It’s better to build a sustainable business around a line of products, rather than a one-hit wonder.


bumpitsThe year was 2008. Like Edmark, Kelly Fitzpatrick hit rough economic times when her real estate business slowed.

A former hairdresser, she was inspired to wade into the inventing waters after watching an episode of The Big Idea with Donnie Deutsch, a television show that frequently featured inventors.

Pain from an old hand injury forced her to close her hair business, but Fitzpatrick remembered how clients wanted the volume she produced for them with combs and hairspray, but were unable to replicate at home.

She created Bumpits, a lightweight plastic half-moon insert that sits on top of your head and lifts hair to give the illusion of volume.

Fitzpatrick made more than 50 prototypes before finding a company called Jet Mold to help her design a lightweight gripping hair insert.

Then she and her 20-year-old daughter trekked to hair shows with a homemade instructional video to demonstrate Bumpits.

She discovered it would sell better to consumers than salons. She created a cheap ad using her daughter as a model, bought TV air time and the commercial was picked up by MTV. Orders poured in. A fad was born.

Bumpits also may have fortuitously benefited from Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, the 4-foot-9-inch, cocktail-swilling icon of MTV’s Jersey Shore, which debuted in 2009.

Snooki didn’t use Bumpits. But her signature poof may have added to the popularity of the retro hairdo popularized by Jackie Kennedy-Onassis in the 60s. Back then, the style was known as a bouffant.

When sales took off, Fitzpatrick licensed Bumpits to an As-Seen-On-TV company – the same one that did the famous Snuggie infomercial. At the retail level, beauty/hair accessory specialists Ulta, Sally’s and Claire’s, as well as drugstores Walgreens and CVS picked up the product and are still selling it.

Toward the end of Bumpits’ reign, around 2010, the product was the brunt of negative spoofs on late-night TV and the Internet. But as they, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Fitzpatrick laughed at the spoofs all the way to the bank.

Fitzpatrick introduced a second Bumpits product, but it hasn’t sold as well as the original.

Bumpits still sells about 20,000 units a month, down from 1 million units a month during its first year on the market. Fitzpatrick knew a decline was inevitable. But she now enjoys a life more financially comfortable than she could have imagined before Bumpits.

Edmark and Fitzpatrick are living proof that inventors can find light at the end of recessionary tunnels.

And they have similar advice for other aspiring inventors – never give up on your dreams and never accept “no” for an answer.

Who knows, “yes” might be right around the corner.

Joan Lefkowitz, an original marketer of TopsyTail ™, is president of ACCESSORY BRAINSTORMS, NYC, a licensing agency, sales representative and consultancy for Fashion/Beauty Accessory and Lifestyle Inventions. Accessory Brainstorms is always looking for inventions in these categories, and offers one-on-one consulting. ACCESSORIES Magazine awarded Joan for “Most Inventive Products” and cited her as one of the 100 most important accessories industry “Movers and Shakers”. Contact at www.accessorybrainstorms.com.

Think You Can’t Launch Your Invention During a Recession? Think Again!

“Few can believe that suffering, especially by others, is in vain. Anything that is disagreeable must surely have beneficial economic effects.” – John Kenneth Galbraith

You might think that during times of economic recession consumers are in no mood to experiment with, or purchase inventive products. Counter-intuitively, starting a business or launching an invention during a recession can be one of the smartest moves to make- depending of course, on if you take certain factors into account. Looking at past recessions and consumer psychology can give us ideas on the types of inventions that can succeed during an economic downturn. Let’s walk through some of these themes that appear on the psychological landscape during a recession.


Let’s start with how people are feeling during these uncertain times. Recessions can generate fear and uncertainty in the minds of people. All around, people are watching others suffer economic hardship, losing their jobs and homes. A result of this is a mindful gratitude that they are not that person they see struggling on the nightly news or in their neighborhood. An appreciation of what one already has, as opposed to what one can attain becomes paramount.

That’s why many inventions that do well during hard times have to do with comfort, organization and do-it-yourself products. Nesting relates to all things related to the home; personal possessions, making oneself more comfortable and secure, improving home environment, and making one’s life more functional. It’s also a known fact that during recessions, many people have less disposable income to spend on going out, so home entertainment and gaming items are always popular. An example of an inventive gaming product introduced during this recession is The Sega “Project Beauty” virtual reality video game (designed for Nintendo DS), which helps women try out different make-up looks via their TV screen. The Magic Fur Ball helps take care of your clothing and laundry by removing people and pet hair from fabrics in the dryer. Lumbarwear is a soft undergarment that supports core and back strength, while providing comfort to the wearer. Tag Tamers is another product that enables comfort by relieving the itchiness of garment labels and eliminating the need to cut them out of clothing. By the way, replenishment products such as this are great for repeat sales. The stylish Shoe Seen is a transparent shoe pouch that helps people organize and store their footwear. All of these are products that satisfy that urge for nesting.

Competition- “Looking Good is Feeling Good”

People are looking to improve themselves to compete in a tougher job market. They become acutely more aware of their own presentation and appearance, viewing the world as a more competitive, rather than friendly place. A recent ‘Do-it-Yourself’ beauty invention that’s a hit in the market is the ZENO PRO Acne Clearing Device (uses heat to clear blemishes), which despite retailing at over $100 saves money that would otherwise be spent at the dermatologist. Another example of a grooming tool that’s time and money saving (no trips to the salon!) and makes the consumer look good is R.E.M. Spring, a battery-free facial hair remover. Slimpressions is a shapewear product designed to slim a woman’s arms, back and midriff. These products help people look great, and also are created to deal with ongoing beauty issues.


Where once people saw life as a progression of economic milestones, lowering expectations during a recession to “just getting by” becomes routine. Products that emphasize survival in the economic storm should be central in the minds of inventors. For example, Steam Buddy iron that replaces dry-cleaner wrinkle-removal (plus, you don’t have to drag out the ironing board) costs about $20, but saves the average customer $100’s in dry cleaning bills over the course of a year. Re-usable items that replace disposables, such as Zorbeez absorbent cloths that are used in place of paper towels, will also appeal to money-strapped consumers.

Back in the 1960’s, there used to be special areas in department stores that sold “Notions” or problem-solving personal products. Today these types of products that emphasize personal preparation are thriving on the internet, and in mail order catalogues. Examples include Hollywood Fashion Tapes, double sided clear tape for “fashion emergencies”, and Bosom Button, a discreet jewel-like pin which allows people to wear clothes with embarrassingly low necklines, or turn scarves into skirts.

Escapism…and Hope

Recessions can cause collective anxiety and panic within the public. Thoughts of losing ones job, the home that the job pays for, and all its contents, are scary enough. It’s common knowledge that during the great depression, the movie cinemas served as a great escape for the masses. Often those movies featured the lives of the rich and famous, in the most expensive and lavish of clothes and settings, a stark contrast to the movie-goers reality. Bars and liquor stores also experience an uptick in clientele. What is entertainment but an escape from the mundane. Escapism is a search for hope and magic. Hope is what people need and crave most during tough times. People are looking for things to magically improve their lives. Examples of “magical” and entertaining products include the “Roomba” robotic vacuum cleaner and “Change Rocks”, the inter-changeable, multi-stone ring. Another such item is the Shower Bow Shower Curtain Expander, which creates a more luxurious bathroom experience, by creating more space in the shower. People need little extravagances as opposed to big ones.

Tips For Inventions

Let’s look through some of the hallmarks that make for good retail inventions:

It is functional and simple to use. It makes life easier, while making the user feel better, smarter, more efficient or more attractive. It’s fun to use. It retails for $40 or less, yet has an element of magic. It saves both time and money, and is reliable, durable, safe and performs well. It is convenient to store. During a recession, other attributes of successful inventions would include items that help consumers repair/improve or re-use what they already own.

The item should be visually and tactilely appealing, have a nice shape and be made available in an attractive color, with smooth edges and an even finish. Packaging should be compact and the product name catchy and memorable; logo and graphics are clear and easy to read. Photos of product results should appear on the front of the package. Simple ‘how-tos’ should appear on the back of the package.

What Wholesale Buyers are Looking For

Most inventions are currently sold to wholesale buyers and/or sold directly to the public (through internet and TV commercials). In selling to wholesale buyers, it is critical to keep in mind their perspective. Wholesale buyers are on the lookout for something that will cut through the jungle of “stuff” already out there, that will sell itself, and is so novel it needs little to no advertising.

In cash poor times, buyers are looking to tighten inventories by buying and stocking less, and paying less for products in order to increase profit margins, while offering value to customers. Some of the ways to appeal to a buyer and help them market your product are: Source for the best pricing on materials and labor. Keep size of the product to a minimum (which takes up less space on the store shelf). Provide alluring signage, displays and photos if the retailer permits. Offer live demonstrations and inventor “guest” appearances. Offer “how-to” videos to stores that will run them on the selling floor. Offer bonus booklets showing extra style or use options as a method of sampling or giveaways. Create special price breaks to buyers if they will “outpost” your product in multiple locations in a store. Provide periodic surprising new add-on products to keep the buyer interested, grow your solitary item into a full product line; and help the retailer satisfy consumers who are always looking for “what’s next” (regardless of the economy.)

Why This is a Good Time for You, The Inventor

You may be unemployed, or in need of extra money. You may be scared to take that next step. You may have been waiting for the “perfect time” to launch your invention. But now is the time to put your idea into action. Now is the time to push yourself to compete, and complete your vision. Take advantage of recessionary times. If your invention is successful during a recession, it can really thrive during good times. As Frank Sinatra’s most famous song said, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”, we say “If you can make it now- go for it!”