For John Jerit, success took a name change and some backbone. While working for a fireworks company, Jerit and his partner bought and sold 3-D glasses called Laser Viewers. But he soon found they cost too much and that "fireworks people" didn't like the name Laser Viewers. So, in 1990, with $85,000 in savings, he acquired his part-ner's half of the glasses business and started his Bartlett, Tennessee company, American Paper Optics, renaming his novelty items 3-D Fireworks Glasses.
Hawking his products carnie-style at fireworks shows, or having chapters of organizations like Kiwanis International and the Boys Club of America do -it for a cut, required backbone. Upon deciding to expand his 3-D glasses business beyond the 3-D fireworks model, however, everything changed. Within a year, Jerit's $400,000 sales goal was surpassed, and this year he's expecting $6 million.
Each pair sells for pennies, but -when companies all over the world purchase from the 12-type assortment en masse (we're talking 20 million units) for promotion and retailing, 3-D glasses seem a lot less kitschy.
Aside from meeting impossible deadlines on unbelievably large orders from accounts like a KISS concert tour and National Geographic, success has come through marketing-at trade shows, through direct mail, on the Internet, you name it. "It's about staying in the public eye so when a big project is out there, you're considered for it," Jerit says. "If you don't know about it, it means you haven't done your homework."
American Paper Optics Inc., (800) 767-8427, http://www.3dglassesonline.com
Birdhouse Projects Inc., http://www.b-house.com
ChildrenFirst Inc., http://www.childrenfirst.com
Crews Control Corp., (800) 545-CREW, http://www.crews-control.com
Icon Lifestyle Marketing, 37 W. 17th St., #7W, New York, NY 10011, (212) 929-3800
i-frontier Corp., (215) 755-2250, firstname.lastname@example.org
Latham Entertainment, (310) 385-0300
Leading Edge Aviation Services Inc., fax: (714) 556-4023, email@example.com
Mature Mart Inc., (404) 881-9816, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tarina Tarantino Designs, (213) 694-1998, http://www.fashiondish.com
Toes on the Nose Corp., (714) 513-1500, http://www.toesonthenose.com
TransPerfect Translations Inc., (212) 689-5555, http://www.transperfect.com