[quote style=”boxed”]Never be afraid to ask for something. If you get a “no,” just keep swimming, just keep swimming…and you’ll get results.[/quote]
Maria Dellapina’s daughter Erin was about two when she needed glasses. With over 25 years in the optical field, Maria felt finding a suitable frame for her daughter would be an easy task. She soon found out that standard frames were not designed correctly to fit well on an individual with Down Syndrome.
So she decided to redesign a frame that would balance and fit properly on her daughter, knowing other parents must be as frustrated as she was. However, this was not an easy process; she felt she knew a lot about the optical field but not how to get a frame made. She searched for years to find a manufacturer that would take her idea seriously. Many companies would just come right out and say that there was no real need for her design. Not giving up, Maria found a frame manufacturer in South Korea and sent off her designs—only to get them back with the temples and bridge repositioned like those of a standard frame.
Not giving up, she sent the originals back and asked them to please look them over and explain how this design would help many children and adults all over the world. The next day, the phone rang, and on the other end was Mr. J. Song. He totally understood her needs and promised to help her design the best possible frame. As a result, we now have the “Erin’s World Frames” line by Specs4us, which ship all over the world.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working with a designer from Italy to produce a Zyl (plastic frame line). They have offered their expertise to me free of charge to help my cause.
Where did the idea for Specs4us come from?
I was licensed as an optician in 1977. My daughter was about two years old when see needed glasses, and I figured with my knowledge and sources, I could find her the perfect frame. I had worked with individuals with Down Syndrome in the past and remembered it was always a challenge to find a good-fitting frame. I was not satisfied with any frame I ordered for her. The changes that need to be made on a frame seemed obvious to me, but finding a manufacturer to listen was the biggest challenge. I now truly know the meaning of “necessity being the mother of invention.”
What does your typical day look like?
I try and start my day as early as I can, addressing emails, checking voice mails. Being located on the East Coast and working internationally, our phones ring day and night. I have a small staff that works on taking orders, shipping, and spreading the word.
How do you bring ideas to life?
All depends on the idea. My brain is always working, and as new ideas pop into it, I make notes and figure out the best way to execute them. Constantly thinking out of the box and listening to staff members’ ideas helps, too.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
All the new social networking; it lets you expand all over the world
What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?
I use to help out at my aunt’s dog kennel when she needed it. Sometimes you will do just about anything for the family you love!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
“They” say the average person needs to see or read an ad up to seven times before it sinks in, so I make sure videos on the company get posted several time a week on Facebook and the other social networks we use.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I wouldn’t say it was a total failure; however, in the beginning, I kept getting rejected when looking for a manufacturer, and it would set me back a while. But, I would pick my self up and try again (over and over again).
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Never be afraid to ask for something. If you get a “no,” just keep swimming, just keep swimming…and you’ll get results.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
As an employer, I think the health care system stinks. They charge us way too much to help out our employees. I don’t know how I would change it, but I would make a lot of friends if I did! And taxes are another story…
Tell us a secret.
I got fired from a job once because I asked for time off to stay at the hospital with my daughter. However, it was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to get my company up and running so I could be there whenever she needed me
What are your three favorite online tools or resources, and what do you love about them?
1. Google – You can find info on anything.
2. Facebook – Is there a place that can spread news faster?
3. Spell Check – Sometimes I type too fast, and it makes proofreading easier. If I would just always remember to check it before I hit “send,” I would look better.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I am a true believer in the The Secret. This book will keep you thinking positive. And Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, has some pretty good ideas and quotes on being a great entrepreneur.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
I am just getting used to Twitter. Most of the people I follow have something to do with Down Syndrome or “special needs.” Maria Shriver and Marlee Matlin are pretty inspirational.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Today, I was filming a new video for the company and pronounced my last name wrong!
Who is your hero?
There are many people I admire, but I don’t know if I have a “hero.”
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I am hoping a really big frame company buys me out for millions and I stay on as a consultant.
What is the most rewarding part of your business?
I get calls, emails, and letters form all over the world almost every day telling me how I helped someone somehow. There is nothing more rewarding. I love my job!
Specs4us on Twitter: @MariaSpecs4us
Specs4us on Facebook: Specs4us
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.