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Hello, My Name Is. . . The best way to protect your invention? Brand your name.

By Don Debelak

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Lea Cavender's epiphany, one that would change her lifeforever, occurred in a ribbon store. Back when the founder of E-ZBowz LLC was still an employee at Ribbon Outlet, she realized thebiggest reason people didn't buy more ribbons was that theysimply didn't know how to tie bows. So she recruited theassistance of her father to create E-Z BowMaker, a wooden devicethat made tying beautiful bows a snap.

Ribbon Outlet immediately placed an order for a whopping 10,000E-Z BowMakers in 1993, and Cavender, 43, was off and running. Sheand her 48-year-old husband, Art, quickly built the business tosales of $1.5 million during its first year.

Cavender got another boost during the start-up stage: Sheattended the 1993 Hobby Industry Association for Crafts Show, whereshe set up a demonstration table at which people could make theirown bows. "We had people lined up the entire show wanting tomake a bow," she says. "Our 'make it/take it'strategy created tremendous interest in our product."

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