Erin Balogh is inventor of Hot Iron Holster and a creative entrepreneur with a background in nursing. Her award-winning inventions can be found on The Today Show, Real Simple Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Lucky Magazine and in many other fashion, beauty, and reputable books and morning shows. Before exiting her nursing career, Balogh adopted a role as a working mother until she fashioned the Hot Iron Holster prototype out of household items. After creating the Hot Iron Holster, Balogh went on a mission to help others clear their lives of clutter and started creating a career by design.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I have learned from examples and leaders all around me. From teachers, to coaches, to employers I have many great leaders in my life. What stood out more than anything among all these different leaders was the passion or love that had for what they did. They couldn't hide it if they tried - and it's what made them great. I try to remember and keep the passion I have for my product and business every day. From the time I started working on my invention, I knew it was a great idea. I knew it solved a problem I had and I knew there were a lot of other people out there like me that at the same problem.
How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Holster Brands?
Prior to starting my own company, I had no business experience. I had worked as an RN for 10 years. Working as an RN did not teach me anything about manufacturing a product, getting a patent, or selling a consumer product, but it did teach me how to work hard, prioritize and problem solve. Even though I haven't known how to do everything, I have always felt like I could figure it out. I don't like to give up and I have learned hard work and persistence pay off.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Holster Brands?
Highlights have been: taking the idea of a curling iron holder from a prototype to a finished product; being granted the 2 utility patents; getting picked up by our first big customers (The Container Store and QVC!); expanding the silicone Holster concept into three distinct product lines (Hot Iron, Hobby, Lil' Holster); having my 3rd child somewhere in the middle of everything.
Challenges: Getting a patent, finding the right manufacturer, funding new development
What advice can you offer women who are looking to start their own business?
I worked on this business for 2 years before I quit my day job. It is important to fully understand what you are getting into. Taking my idea and making it into a product was a journey that allowed me to learn along the way. Always be open to learning opportunities that you can apply to your project and be sure to not hesitate when an opportunity or chance meeting presents itself. Learn everything you can to prepare yourself - but don't be afraid to jump in when the time is right.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
It is a challenge. Some days I do better than others! I have a great husband who quit his job over a year ago to help me with this business and has been supportive about my idea from day one. I have three wonderful kids. I try to stay organized and prioritize my work load. I work from home - needless to say - I have frequent interruptions during the day. But sometimes building a train track or playing with play-doh is a welcomed mental break. I often work in the evening when the kids go down to sleep. I try to keep things in perspective and try not to let work dominate my life.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Speaking for myself I would say: confidence - confidence in your abilities and decisions. I think this is something that comes with time and experience. When I began working on my idea 5 years ago I felt so inexperienced and often thought, "What am I doing?" At my first tradeshow, I told my husband I would feel more comfortable performing CPR than talking about my product to strangers. But I knew I would regret not trying and mustered some courage to speak up. I have to remind myself that no one cares more about my business than me so sharing my knowledge and passion will only build my confidence and create interest in my products.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Formal and informal mentors have been present in all stages of building my company. I appreciate how they have already been down that road before me and can help navigating challenges and decisions.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
There are so many inspiring female leaders I admire. I have all new respect for them as I try to follow in their footsteps. Oprah, Sarah Blakely (Spanx), Jennifer Telfer(Pillow Pets), Bethenny Frankel (Skinny Girl), Alli Web (DryBar) and JK Rowling (Harry Potter) are all women leaders I admire. It may sound simple but I admire them because they had an idea or a goal and they followed through with it. They each had their "American Dream" and they pursued it relentlessly, often risking job security or financial stability, to accomplish their goals.
What do you want Holster Brands to accomplish in the next year?
In the next year we plan to have continued growth within our company, bring on more employees, and expand into an office outside of our home. We plan to continue to add more retailers in the US and Canada and expand our international distribution. We are also launching a re-designed website (www.holsterbrands.com) to combine all three product lines, the Hot Iron Holster, the Lil Holster and the Hobby Holster, into one convenient online shopping experience.