Anyone with a child in grade school is likely familiar with one of the latest crazes � jewelry and other items made with a Rainbow Loom. These looms are used to weave bracelets and other items made of colorful rubber bands. The phenomenon has its home base right here in Wixom, Michigan, and the man behind it just a few years ago was a crash safety engineer at Nissan.
The success of Malaysian-born Cheong Choon Ng and his company, Choon's Design LLC, may seem like it happened overnight, but was at times a slow, difficult road. It began in 2010 when Ng saw his daughters tying hair rubber bands together and joined in. Soon, ever the engineer, he built a small contraption to weave the bands together. Buoyed by enthusiasm from friends and neighbors for the, he eventually decided to market the product.
Ng spent $10,000 from his children's college fund to perfect the loom and then, with his daughters, took his invention to stores and kiosks. Eventually some independent toy retailers and then Learning Express started carrying the Rainbow Loom kits. Ng signed an exclusive deal with the craft giant Michaels Stores. The bracelets became increasingly popular with children and tweens nationwide. It is the second best-selling toy or game at Amazon. Celebrities have been seen sporting the bracelets. YouTube videos and books have popped up from fans of the Rainbow Loom providing new ideas for items to make with the loom and the bands. Needless to say, Ng quit his job at Nissan.
One thing that bothered Ng, who witnessed the manufacturing decline facing his state, was that a Chinese manufacturer was producing his product. He created another product, the Wonder Loom, which he licensed to two American companies. About the time of this new partnership, retail giant Wal-Mart, searching for more U.S.-made products, signed on the carry Wonder Loom.
Of course, like all great ideas, this one has had its share of "copycats" being carried by major retailers. Ng's legal team is busy dealing with these counterfeiters and the retailers who sell the products, including Toys R Us, and no doubt will be busy knocking down counterfeiters as long as Ng's products are popular, and helping insure that their client is getting the profits that he rightfully deserves for his invention and his work.
Source: Rainbow Loom's creator weaves success from playtime inspiration, "Crain’s Detroit Business" Catherine Kavanaugh, Dec. 15, 2013