Maretta Johnson grew up in Pelham, Ga. (population approximately 4,400). She attributes her creativity and work ethic to her upbringing. Maretta is a college graduate and has been a certified paralegal for 18 years. She has been married to her husband, Jacques, for 23 years. They have two sons, Jacques II , known as JT, and Jarrett.
Maretta will be the first to tell you she is a survivor. After suffering the loss of her daughter, Jazmine, due to a drunk driver, she never thought she would live to have two sons or invent a baby product. Yes, Maretta Johnson is an inventor. She patented the Total Travel Bag. It’s the first diaper bag with a built-in bottle warmer and car adapter. It has a storage cooler and it also converts to a garment bag. As an African American woman from a small town, she feels that hard work and never giving up is the key to success.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on getting my product into major retailers. I developed Jaz Innovations, Inc., named after my daughter, Jazmine. The company manufactures the Total Travel Bag, and I am developing a line of baby products called Total Travel Baby. I continue to help others by working with injured workers cases with The Barnett Law Firm. I also am working on the development of my foundation, Jazmine’s Angels, which will assist parents who suffer the loss of a child with financial and counseling services.
3 Trends that excite you?
This is a trend that helps moms and dads locate information that can be life changing. Whether it’s “How To” information or receiving motivation from others, this is a trend that can be beneficial to any corporation or average Joe.
More families are surprisingly becoming larger again, even in this economy. Whether it’s due to adoptions or the increase in fertility treatments, babies are on the rise. This is perfect for a baby product manufacturer like us.
Dads are more involved these days. They are carrying diaper bags, traveling alone with the kids and more dads are staying at home. That’s why I try to design products for the entire family. Dads will not be subjected to pink florals if it’s a Jaz Innovations product.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Always put your ideas on paper and create a follow-through plan. If you are planning to create a new product that is not on the market, do a patent search. Save yourself time and money by avoiding the patent companies. The initial process can be done by you. Some great tools for patenting and manufacturing a product are the U.S. Patent and Trademark website, Thomasnet.com (to locate a manufacturer) and your local state bar associate for a patent attorney. But remember, the first step is drawing it out and writing it down. Always keep a non-disclosure agreement handy until your product is patent pending. You can find a sample on the Web.
What is one mistake you’ve made that our readers can learn from?
A lot of people will come along and offer assistance, but the goal will be to ride your coat tail and get something for free. Be aware of the so-called experts.
What is one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
I think www.thomasnet.com was very helpful as well as www.uspto.gov.
What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Network marketing is a great idea. Whether it’s your product or other products. This is a proven way to make money. Companies like Avon had proven success for many years. So, stay tuned.
What is your company planning for the years ahead?
We are in negotiations with major retailers. We plan to patent several more Total Travel Baby products, publish an inventors tip book and further develop the Jazmine’s Angels Foundation to help grieving parents.
Do you feel that being a small company and mom inventor makes it difficult to reach major retailers?
Yes, you have to really be persistent and have all your business in order. Your manufacturing has to be top notch. However, being an African American inventor, I noticed it’s even more difficult, because if you noticed, we are not showcased on TV shows or special programs, and this means without marketing the product goes under the radar.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.