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How One Infant's Obsession Led His Parents to a Booming Business Lisa and Eric Greenwald created a totally new kind of jewelry for the mouths of babes.

By Paula Andruss

This story appears in the April 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Jonathon Kambouris

Lisa Greenwald has spent 12 years in J. Crew's merchandising department, and has amassed quite a collection of costume jewelry. When her son was a baby, he always wanted to put one particular brightly colored necklace in his mouth. "He -- and every single baby I ever picked up -- was entranced by it," she says. "People thought I was some kind of baby whisperer, but I would tell them, "I swear it's just the necklace.'" First Lisa wondered what made the item so special. Then she thought someone should make a version for babies to chew on.

That was her aha moment. In 2009 Greenwald and her husband, Eric, developed and launched Chewbeads. They've since sold 140,000 chewable necklaces, and expanded into dozens of styles and colors that sell for $14.50 to $38 in more than 2,000 stores nationwide.

This simple idea wasn't actually easy to pull off, though. Lisa found manufacturers that were able to either make silicone or make necklaces, but no place seemed to do both. Also, many jewelry factories worked with metals, and the Greenwalds didn't want to risk manufacturing in a factory that contains lead. It took months to find a solution: They hired a consultant in Hong Kong, who taught a silicone factory how to make Chewbeads. "He essentially created this industry for us," Lisa says.

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