If you've invented a line of hairbrushes and want to introduce them to the world, you'll need to patent your idea, develop a prototype and find a manufacturer to make your dream a reality. Thanks to the Internet, you can complete most of these tasks from home. You'll need some start-up capital, but your hairbrushes may be ready to sell in less than a year if everything goes smoothly.
Check with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to make sure your hairbrushes have not already been patented by someone else. Do a preliminary search in the office's online database, uspto.gov. If you find that someone has patented your idea, stop immediately. You can't manufacture a product someone else has patented. If you don't find a patent, pay for a professional patent search. You can get a recommendation on the United Inventors Association website, uiausa.org. It is better to invest a little bit of money to guarantee that your idea is new rather than invest a lot and find out later that the idea belongs to someone else.
Hire a patent attorney to have your idea patented. A complicated patent could take years and cost thousands of dollars. If your idea isn't patented, someone else could steal it and patent it themselves. Then you wouldn't be able to manufacture your own brushes. You can find a patent lawyer who is willing to quote you a price on a freelance website such as Guru (guru.com). Ask the attorney how many similar patents she has done. Your patent attorney can file a provisional patent license immediately so you can get started with production without worrying about someone stealing your design.
Hire a design engineer to produce a prototype hair brush. No manufacturer will produce your hairbrushes without a preliminary patent license and a prototype. You can find a design engineer on Guru. Make a listing vaguely describing your idea and have design engineers bid on the job. Make sure the engineer you choose is in the United States; otherwise you could have language or shipping problems. You can have your design engineer sign a confidentiality agreement to make sure that she doesn't steal or sell your idea to someone else.
Take your prototype to trade shows and research whether there is a market for your hairbrushes. Talk to salon owners and employees and explain to them what is special about your brush and how much it would cost. Ask them whether they would be interested in purchasing this product. You want to find out whether there is a market for your hairbrushes before you pay to manufacture them.
Find a manufacturer that has offices in both Asia and the United States. Find a manufacturer that specializes in hairbrushes, and not industrial brushes or some other product entirely. Finding a U.S. manufacturer will keep you from encountering language problems and shipping problems. Make sure the manufacturer sees your prototype and understands what you want. If you are having trouble finding a manufacturer, ask other inventors or companies for recommendations.
Decide whether you want to finance your own manufacturing or license your product to another company in your field that will finance the tooling and manufacturing expenses. If you manufacture your own brushes, you'll have to pay for the machines that make your item. If you license your product, you won't have to pay for your machines but you will have to pay the firm you license to a cut of your profits.
- hairbrush image by Alexandra Stukkey from Fotolia.com