SUCCESS COMES IN COLORS; VALLEY BUSINESSMAN GETS CHARGE FROM JELLY CORDS.
It's one of those products that makes closet inventors hit their head and say, D'oh! Why didn't I think of that?
Michael Nostrant did and he's cleaning up.
His idea? Extension cords in 17 different colors. No, not exactly a new computer operating system or biotech-engineered drug. But his cords satisfy every Martha Stewart wannabe looking for a way to hide the power cord running to their television.
Got a fuchsia carpet? No problem, Nostrant's got a fuchsia cord. Not only fuchsia, he's also got canary, powder pink, pewter and amethyst as well as three Christmas-themed cords. He calls them his Jelly Cords.
``I knew it was a good idea when people said either they've already seen it out there or why didn't I think of that?,'' Nostrant said.
His company, SNS International in Tarzana, sells them to big retailers such as Linens 'N Things and Bed Bath and Beyond as well as scores of smaller stores. The cords are priced from $1.99 to $2.99.
``He has tapped into a need where people recognize they want an attractive living room and they don't want a black extension cord messing it up,'' said Marilyn Raymond, director of marketing for New Product Showcase and Learning Center in Ithaca, N.Y., a new products consulting firm. ``This can be a small addition that enhances (the home) without being expensive.''
The key to a product's success is for it to be ``truly innovative and something consumers perceive as a need,'' she added.
Nostrant got the idea for multicolor cords while on a visit to China. Nostrant went to an extension-cord factory to research an idea he had for surge protectors.
As he watched white, beige, green and brown cords being made, he wondered why extension cords didn't come in other colors. On the spot, he told the Chinese factory owner that he wanted cords made in 17 different colors.
In July, Jelly Cords hit the market. In one month, he sold 294,000 units.
Sales this year for his 15-person company should hit $10 million. Last year, SNS International recorded $4 million in revenues.
Of course, that's not from Jelly Cords alone.
His other products include Sheet Snugglers, foam corners that prevent bed sheets from slipping off; Mattress Mates, a ``T''-shape foam that turns two twin beds into a king, and Cleanimals, a sort of Beanie Baby bath toy with puff netting exfoliators.
His kids - two sons and a daughter - help him name the animals: Corkscrew the Pig, Giggles the Goldfish, Hiccup the Hippo, Dimples the Duck and Clean Kong.
Coming soon are Plushlights, plush toy-covered flashlights, and Fabric Clips, which fasten fabric in place without piercing it.
How does Nostrant come up with his product ideas?
No, he doesn't embark on wilderness retreats to spark his creativity, neither does he sit and brainstorm with a group of marketing executives.
``I can't really tell you,'' Nostrant explains. ``It just hits me.''
Photo: (1--Color) Michael Nostrant's Jelly Cords come in 17 colors, from powder pink to pewter. His company's sales are expected to hit $10 million this year.
(2--Color) Nostrant said he got the idea for Jelly Cords on a trip to China.
Charolotte Schmid-Maybach/Staff Photographer