OXFORD – Karen Ganovsky admits she suffers from what many call the “plague of the 40s,” but the issue has turned into an opportunity that could pay big dividends.
About three years ago, Ganovsky visited her eye doctor after noticing that reading menus, price tags and other small type had become more difficult.
“All of a sudden, everything got a little blurry,” she said. “My doctor said I had the ‘plague of the 40s,’ which meant I needed to stop on the way home at Walgreens and pick up a pair of readers.”
She stopped by reluctantly, not finding exactly what she wanted.
“Then you get home and you can’t find them,” she said. “I left them in the bottom of the purse, I left them at work … I lost so many pairs of them. I left them at restaurants, people’s homes, it was just crazy. I was getting annoyed because I was having to buy so many.”
Her sister-in-law, Dianna Seddon, was in a similar situation.
“I have to wear contacts anyway, and they weren’t working even with the bifocals,” Seddon said. “Even with the readers, I couldn’t read fine print.”
Together, they’ve developed a product they think will become a hit for women suffering from the same “plague.”
Their answer: Neckglasses, their name for readers camouflaged as necklaces. With four designs – and more on the way – the combination of necklaces and reading glasses are available for sale now.
While there are readers on the market that hang from a person’s neck, neither woman liked the look.
“I refused to wear that granny cord … I just think of an older woman wearing a beaded chain with the glasses around the neck, and I didn’t like it,” Ganovsk said..
Seddon and Ganovsky wanted to make something both stylish and useful. Nothing like what was available on the market.
“I’m not good with pencil and paper, but I began writing down my ideas,” Ganovsky said. “Dianna was in the same boat, so we started bouncing ideas back and forth. One thing led to another, and I got my brother involved.”
Her brother, Kevin Seddon, knows a few thing about patents and inventions, and brought in a longtime friend and business partner who also is an engineer.
He began making prototypes of the ideas the women had envisioned, and the first consumer-ready Neckglasses were available just a few months ago.
While the lenses are manufactured in China, the Neckglasses are assembled in Oxford.
“We also troubleshoot here and package here,” Dianne Seddon said.
After 18 months of product development, they were ready to “aggressively launch” Neckglasses. Brochures were made and a website was developed (www.myneckglasses.com). The next step was to fine sales representatives to introduce Neckglasses to interested retailers..
Ganovsky and Seddon approached a couple of buying groups, and were overwhelmed with interest from reps around the country who thought Neckglasses would sell well.”
And with word spreading, Neckglasses are gaining traction with consumers.
At a recent trade show in Las Vegas, a large casino group decided to carry the product line in its gift shops.
The Neckglasses sell for $79 in retail stores.
For something that serves as both reading glasses and a piece of jewelry, the price isn’t too expensive. Especially if you’re having to buy a pair of readers every week or so. And they don’t look like an old librarian’s glasses hanging from a chain.
“People will walk up and say, ‘I like your necklace,’ and they don’t really know what they do,” Seddon said. “When they see what they can do and how to use it, they’re like, ‘what did you just do?’ We tell them what they are and they react well to it.”
Neckglasses can be bought in Oxford at Lammons Fine Jewelry and MW2, as well as boutiques in Florida, some stores in Arkansas. Sales representatives also look to put Neckglasses in stores across the country, as well as Canada.
Source: Daily Journal