Before Shari Hammond launched Inspired Product Development Group, she spent years at her old job observing ‘what could be done better.’ When the time finally came for her own business launch, she teamed up with her father, an inventor with over 150 patents, and started innovating products that could solve a common problem to make life easier for consumers; like their Go Hang It picture hanging system and their Cabinet Caddy organizer which are available nationwide through large retailers. Today, the Austin, Texas-based entrepreneur manages many hats, while navigating shipping and logistics amidst a global pandemic and finding time to spend with her family.
Hammond’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
Before starting my own company, I worked for a much larger corporation as their Creative Director. There I learned a lot about business and how things are structured. I also realized that there were many things that I would do differently. That company ended up going bankrupt and really forced me into starting my own business…and now, I could do it my way. After several discussions with my dad about my situation, we started taking a look at products we could innovate. We landed on what is now called the Cabinet Caddy and the rest is history. Having the opportunity to work together and be our own bosses while combining our love for inventing consumer products, was the reason we launched Inspired Product Development Group.
How do you define success?
Success means being the best you can with what you’ve got right now. I think too many people define success with statements like, “When have a million dollars in the bank, I’ll be successful.” I’ve never been like this. While I think forward-looking and having goals are important, I don’t think they define success. To me success is the culmination of trying to be your best every single day.
Tell us about your biggest success to date.
To date, my biggest success has been the overwhelming results of our Go Hang It picture hanging system. Award-winning Go Hang It is available nationwide at Home Depot, The Grommet, Amazon, Wayfair, Walmart and other major retailers.
Explain your top challenge and how you have addressed it
Our top challenge right now is fulfillment and logistics. The current ocean freight situation world-wide is a mess. COVID-19 shutdowns and limited workers have paralyzed logistics and have driven prices way up. This means that I am working daily with manufacturers and freight forwarders to try and get product moving, rerouted and ultimately delivered. The rising cost of doing business, getting goods to the U.S., has nearly doubled this past year (2020-2021).
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
When my mother passed away in 2019 due to a long battle with COPD and other illnesses, it forced us to change how we did business. You do business when you can. And, the times you aren’t doing business, you are caring for your loved one. Ultimately, after she passed, our care for ourselves and our work went through changes. We returned to focusing on the business and growing Inspired Product Development Group. Being a single mom, juggling my business and my son (age 13) who is heavily involved in sports (lacrosse, basketball) means getting him to practices and games. I’m fortunate that by being in business with my Dad it means that there is an understanding and a help in both business and personal life.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
My biggest tip is to sit back, strategize and look at the big picture. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Don’t make decisions when you aren’t ready yet. Get a plan and strategy in place. Be prepared. We had to adapt and overcome and create our own warehouse space in order to go at our own pace.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I go for a walk and spend time reflecting. When things get frustrating, I get up and take a walk outside and, breathe before returning to work and looking at things objectively. Since I wear many hats (shipping, tech support, supply chain, sales, marketing) and that our business is strictly online means that we have to manage many portals. It’s a lot. A walk gives me that inspiration to re-set.
Who is your most important role model?
My role model is my father. His knowledge and expertise in inventing products is unprecedented. With over 150 patents, he is in an elite class of inventors. I’m thrilled to be able to work with him daily and to learn and grow with his insights.