Tomima Edmark had shiny, long, flowing hair- that she could never get to stay in a hair do. But she wasn’t worrying about her hair the night in the late 1980’s when she was sitting in a movie theater, enjoying the show. She was reminded of her problem by the woman sitting in front of her whose hair was elegantly styled in a “French twist”, when suddenly she came up with the idea for the TopsyTail- a hairstyling tool that turned a ponytail inside out to make numerous beautiful hairstyles.. This little brainstorm of an idea went on to become the most successful hair accessory history.
Tomima worked on developing her invention; prototyping, production, and packaging, and in 1991, started selling it at a few local boutiques. She used a chance encounter with an editor of ACCESSORIES Magazine to persuade her that TopsyTail tm had the potential to turn the accessories industry on its head and create a sales revolution. The editor, knowing a good thing when she saw it, advised Dallas based Tomima to secure a New York salesrep that would sell it into the major department stores and provided her with several recommendations. Tomima selected a sales representative and marketer that already was focusing on ‘out of the box’ accessory items that would get the media’s attention and drive sales in the then recessionary economy.
Meanwhile Tomima, a former marketing person for IBM, was busy at work securing a Direct Response TV (DRTV) deal. TopsyTail tm would become the first fashionaccessory to appear on a television commercial. TopsyTail tm had all the makings of a successful DRTV campaign. It catered to a huge demographic –‘anyone who can ponytail can TopsyTail tm,’; was inexpensive to produce, it could be marked up for profit many times and still be offered at less than $20, it’s effect made people feel special and more attractive, it was simple to use, and had an element of magic. At about the same time of establishing the TV connection Tomima hired a New York public relations firm with credentials in promoting both fashion accessory and beauty products, to deliver the news on TopsyTail tm into the hands and heads of American girls and women.
Even before the TV and PR campaign took hold, the department stores responded and orders started to roll in. Only Bloomingdales buyers turned down the TopsyTail tm, stating it did not fit into their product mix. When the media exposure did hit all hell broke loose. The department stores placed reorders for monthly deliveries for up to a year out. One morning, the sales representatives received an urgent telephone message from a top executive at Bloomingdales asking them to call their buyers ‘As soon as possible!’
Tomima had also hired salesreps in other key markets nationally. She had all targets covered. The orders were coming in so fast and furiously that she could no longer run the operation from her garage. She was running out of funds to produce the goods. A decision had to be made on how to keep up with demand. She formed an alliance with a DRTV company to fund the production of goods (allowing Tomima to retain oversight of quality control), run the TV campaign worldwide and oversee distribution. In addition, she established an extensive network of outsourced vendors to deal with everything from manufacturing to servicing retail stores; keeping her own company very small (3 full time employees) and creating an economy of scale. By allowing herself to focus on what she did best-which was creating the TopsyTail tm , and effectively managing the business, she was able to capitalize on her whirlwind dream.
This tsunami of sales continued for well over a year in the US and reached into international markets as well. A sales representative, vacationing in Barcelona in the Summer of 92′, was watching TV in her hotel room and lo and behold a TopsyTail tm commercial appeared on CNN! After a year and a half, just as TopsyTail tm had thundered into the marketplace, the storm had run its course. The market was saturated and was ready for the next ‘big thing’ which was to be the Hairdini tm , (but that’s another story.) By that time, TopsyTail tm had generated over $100 million in sales to take its place as the best selling hair invention in history.