Even though I work with engineers and manufacturers on a daily basis in my day job, I didn’t know a whole lot about how to hire one for this project. I also had no idea what it might cost.
So I reached out to the guys who sparked this whole project in my head in the first place, and they quickly referred me to Justin Aiello at Aiello Design as a resource.
There are actually a lot of predators out there, in this invention area of the marketplace, ready to supposedly “help” people with their projects and in bringing them to market.
I had a leg up on things in this department simply by knowing people in the space who could refer me to honest people, and Justin Aiello turned out to be a no-nonsense resource in that department.
I sent him more than 20 pages of material outlining my concept, the design intent of the various parts and how they worked, as well as some sketches and photographs of the handmade device that I already used to clean my brushes.
Open to Suggestions
Later, I also talked to him about how I was uncertain about how to connect the nodules to the bottom of the container; I told him that I was open to smarter ideas about how to achieve that. I had already been kicking around a few concepts such as suction cups and other things …
Even in my handmade brush-cleaning device, I had always had problems getting the cutout brush bristles to stick to the bottom for long periods of time. I had always used hot glue, but that just crumbled over time because it doesn’t stick to rubber and hard plastic very well, and so the nodules were always coming loose …
I was also open to ideas on executing the drying mat cost effectively. There were a couple of different design options there that could work for a graduated design, and we explored a couple.
The Price Tag
Justin wrote back and the initial estimate was in the $4,000-$5,000 range–excluding the costs of prototypes.
I figured that this would be one of the biggest expenses in this project, and Justin came highly recommended. So in July 2013, I decided to go with it. And off we went …
In the weeks and months that followed, we had a lot of discussions, exchanges of sketches and changes — too many to even count. About colors, wall thicknesses, shapes of edges, depths of threading, materials, you name it.
Sometimes I would tell Justin I wanted to sit on a change or a decision for a little while before he would hear back from me.
In the end, Justin came up with the most brilliant way to attach the nodules to the bottom of the container, and it also ended up giving My Brush Betty a dual use.
By putting the cleaning disk into a twist-off bottom, the container itself would hold the disk in place. But more importantly, the twist-off cleaning disk could also be used to hand wash brushes if and when somebody wanted to do that. It just gave consumers another option — and a good one when it came to retractable brushes or brushes that might be too long to fit inside My Brush Betty.
Even though I made My Brush Betty big enough to accommodate most brushes, there were still some that were even taller, but I didn’t want to build the container size for those outliers, which would be even more expensive than necessary.
In late August, I approved some sketches that would ultimately serve as the basis for Justin’s engineering work and then my first prototype.
By late September, my first prototype was ready to ship. I received it the first week of October.
Invention: A Powerful Feeling
It’s been a long time since I was this excited to open a package, but when FedEx dropped off my first prototype, I was like a kid at Christmas.
It’s difficult to explain how emotionally powerful it is to hold something that you actually invented in your hands for the first time–and then to use it.
If I had realized how powerful that emotion was years ago, I might have become an engineer or product designer.
Justin told me he liked inventors to call him right after they get their invention. I suspect he loved to hear the immediate feedback, which can be powerful.
As corny as it sounds, I was in love with My Brush Betty right from the start.
Still, I told Justin I would likely want to make revisions, as I intended to test the product out with hundreds of makeup brushes in the weeks and months to come — to see what unanticipated issues might arise. Because there is always something.
And thus began my new every day routine of washing and drying makeup brushes — to test out my new device, search for unintended consequences, contemplate potential product improvements and really consider whether I really wanted to go all the way with this project.
An avalanche of makeup brushes would soon fill nearly every corner of my family’s small, 1,400-square-foot home, as I went about my product testing.
In order to sell this product effectively, I eventually concluded that I would need to become somewhat of an expert on how makeup brushes were manufactured in order to convince people this was really a safe way to clean makeup brushes.
While I already knew that it was perfectly safe based on my own experience of shake-cleaning brushes for nearly a decade, I needed to understand — scientifically — why it worked so well in order to sell it to the marketplace. And that would take some research because, quite frankly, I had never thought about it.