By Jennifer Leonard
First-time entrepreneur Connie Inukai, 72, knew impressing QVC would be an enormous challenge. The retail giant sees more than 10,000 vendor applications a year, and only about 500 get the greenlight to appear on its TV channels and digital platforms. But Inukai, inventor of the Tip ‘n Split, says there are three qualities that put her over the top:
In 2014, Inukai took her product idea to an INPEX trade show for inventors in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, she met representatives from QVC searching for new sellers. “I told them I was so sorry, but I only have pictures. Here’s what my product is and what it does,” she recalls. They were interested, but couldn’t move forward without seeing more. “It was disappointing. But when the woman in charge told me to come back with a prototype, I knew I would take her advice. I don’t give up too easily.” The following year, she met the same reps again, and this time it was a yes. In fact, they loved the Tip ‘n Split so much that Inukai was on-air six months later.
“QVC hosts have a lot of personality,” says Inukai. “They are so good at what they do.” Concerned that she couldn’t match their big personas, and that it would hurt her chances of getting on-air, she decided to amplify what she did have: Friendliness and relatability. It turns out, “they are just as important on QVC,” she says. Without realizing it, Inukai had honed in on a huge part of the retailer’s success formula: The backyard-fence chat, where on-air interactions are meant to feel like a casual talk between neighbors.
When Inukai and her friends started struggling to see dinner menus in darkened restaurants, she knew there had to be a way to solve the problem. “People assume you don’t do much at my age, but that is not in my DNA,” she says. Born from personal experience, the Tip ‘n Split became a passion project, something that clearly comes through as she discusses it. “I get so excited, and QVC loved that,” she says. “They knew I genuinely believed in my product.”
“Getting on QVC was my big start,” says Inukai, who later appeared on NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “The View”. She feels her success as a salesperson never would have happened had she not showcased these all-important qualities, which first caught the eye of QVC.
For more on Inukai, visit grandmapreneurinventor.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Leonard is a writer at VISTA Today, specializing in retail and consumer marketing. A West Goshen resident, Jennifer has 20 years of experience as a full-time editor and writer for magazines including Woman’s World, Cosmopolitan and Seventeen. Jennifer is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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