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Business Rx: Getting a product to market before someone steals the idea

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By Special to Capital Business
Monday, October 11, 2010

The entrepreneur

Deborah Wiener is a Silver Spring-based interior designer who says she started her own furniture line out of necessity.

"I married a slob, we had two boys, and together these three destroyed our home," she said.

Wiener incorporated design tricks into her business -- such as using durable fabrics and dark patterned rugs -- that could hold up to daily abuse from kids and pets. Her tips led to an interior design book she wrote titled "Slob Proof! Real-Life Design Solutions." But she didn't want to constantly have to hide stains and replace furniture and knew her clients felt the same. When Wiener couldn't find attractive options to really stand up to the wear and tear, she decided to develop her own furniture line.

Wiener

"My Slobproof seating is odor-proof, moisture-proof and anti-microbial. Clean, green (sustainably forested hardwood frames) and made in the USA, our furniture is perfect for families, pets, pet lovers and public spaces where staying spill-proof, odor-free and anti-microbial is a must.

"Each seat cushion straps down the base, so it won't move unless you want it to. No sofa skirts to get dirty; no oversized arms to mat down; and all leg finishes can be touched up with a Sharpie marker."

The pitch

For Wiener, Slobproof is more than stylish upholstered couches and chairs -- the brand is a way of life.

Wiener

"We hope to be adding rugs, toss pillows and paint implements to our Slobproof brand for clean, green living everywhere in your home.

"Some of my suggestions in my 'Slob Proof' book for touching up scuffed walls got my son, Sam, and I talking about an idea for a new touch-up paint tool. Sam designed a product this past summer. We found a manufacturer in China to create a prototype and we've filed for a patent. How do we approach distribution for this new product?"


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