Big Ideas, Big Bucks
For years, Sheri, a busy mother of three, stayed at home and cared for her children Lexie, Julian and Riley. Like many others, Sheri's children were crazy about the latest craze in footwear—Crocs.
Sheri says every member of her family had a few pairs of these colorful rubber clogs. Then, one day while Sheri and her children were having fun with arts and crafts at home, Sheri stuck a silk flower through a hole in a pair of Crocs. "[I] said, 'Oh, look, how cute,'" she says. "Then, we found all this other stuff, and we were sticking them in holes."
When Rich, Sheri's husband, came home and saw his family accessorizing their shoes with buttons and baubles they found in the sewing kit, Sheri says a lightbulb went on over his head.
Jibbitz—the playful name Sheri and Rich gave these decorative designs—started out simple. Sheri says she began buying things like peace signs, happy faces, hearts and rhinestones at craft stores and gluing them onto cufflinks. Then, she'd stick the cufflinks into her children's Crocs and send them off to school.
Once her children started wearing their fancy footwear in public, orders began rolling in. Jibbitz quickly took over the family's basement. Then, Sheri launched a website, and after just two weeks, she was overwhelmed with requests for Jibbitz of all shapes and sizes. Retailers caught on and began ordering hundreds at a time.
Although Sheri and her family glued Jibbitz night and day, she soon realized they couldn't keep up with the orders themselves. They moved their business from the basement into a huge warehouse. Within 12 months, Jibbitz were being sold in more than 3,000 stores.
As fate would have it, it was Sheri's daughter, Lexie, who really took the family business to new heights.
That man was Duke Hanson, the founder of Crocs. A little over a year after making her first Jibbit, Sheri and Rich sold their business to the Croc Company for $10 million, with an extra $10 million if they meet sales goals.
Sheri and Rich still run the Jibbitz company, and they say business is booming. Currently, Sheri says they're focused on building the brand and coming up with new products. Soon, Jibbitz will launch a line of wristbands, hats, belts and purses.
Although Sheri's swamped at work, she still manages to be home with her children before school and when they get home each afternoon. What does Lexie think of her parents' sudden success? "I think it's really, really cool because all my friends just really like it because they get free Jibbitz all the time from me," she says.
Almost overnight, Marsha says she was forced to come up with a way to support herself and her children, Cindy and Brad. One day, Marsha noticed a scrap metal truck parked at a local gas station and got an idea.
Marsha began visiting scrap metal yards, where workers laughed and told her women didn't collect scrap metal. But nothing deterred this desperate mom. "I went to industrial parks, and I looked for companies that manufactured metal products and asked if they would do business with me," Marsha says. "It was never beneath me to pick up aluminum cans or even pick up hubcaps along the highway. Everything had value."
When Marsha wasn't with her kids, she was in her truck collecting all sorts of metal. She worked around the clock to put food on the table and pay the bills. "I needed to survive," she says. "I wasn't going to let anything stand in my way. Most men thought, 'You can't stay in this business. ... You'll never make it.' [Now] they're gone, and I'm here."
When Marsha first started out, she says men would surround her truck and yell obscenities as she loaded car batteries and iron pipes. Their taunts backfired. Marsha says the obstacles she faced only made her stronger.
"I was underestimated," she says. "I was the first woman ever to do this. ... The more they underestimated [me], the harder I worked."
"[You're a] great inspiration to women everywhere," Oprah says.
Noël says she came up with her brilliant idea because she was tired of seeing her teenage daughter's bra straps hanging out of her sleeveless tops. So she invented Strap Tamers™, which are comprised of a clip with a pin built into it. "You pin it to the inside shoulder seam of the garment, then you slip the bra strap into the clip," Noël says. She adds that Strap Tamers are laundry-safe, so you don't have to take the clips off your shirts before you wash!
Grace says changing her own babies' diapers gave her the idea. "I was so frustrated with the rectangular pad, trying to align my little kids on the pad, so I said, 'You know what? A round one makes so much more sense.' Now I put my baby in any position," she says.
The timer can be attached to a food jar using a magnet or a suction cup. Kathleen says people can use the counter to remember how many days ago they did various other things, such as watering the plants or changing the kitty litter.
Find out who won Oprah's Search for the Next Big Idea!