Nancy’s Tedeschi’s invention is a little screw with a potentially big impact.
In 2007, the seasonal town resident invented Snap It, an eyeglass screw with a long, snap-off tab on the bottom that makes it easier to reattach at the hinge after the original screw goes missing .
Since it debuted at an optical trade show a year ago, Tedeschi has sold 2.3 million of the screws. And new requests to order them come in every day.
Tedeschi, 54, lives in Clifton Park with her son, Michael Vopelak, about half the year and has her own house in East Wenatchee, Wash. She lived in the Capital Region full-time since she was a teenager and is a Shenendehowa High School graduate, but moved west in November 2009.
A year to the month after the screw was introduced at the Vision Expo East in New York City, opticians already have bought Snap It screws by the box to make their jobs easier when they insert eyeglass lenses into frames, and repair kits for home use soon will be available in retail stores.
Walgreens plans to have them on shelves in 8,000 stores in about two and a half months, Tedeschi said. “I’m dealing with all the major players now,” she said. “Every time I open my e-mail, there’s an e-mail from somewhere else that wants to distribute it.”
A hired team of sales representatives pitches the product to retailers around the country for her.
AARP is going to test the screws this spring to possibly use as a free gift for new members, and Tedeschi has an infomercial in the works that is expected to air within the next 30 days.
The screws also are on the cusp of going international — Tedeschi has an order for 70,000 kits with a company in France, is negotiating with a company in the Netherlands and meets with a Korean representative today at the Vision Expo East.
“It’s an idea that, once you see it, you go, ‘Why has that never been invented before?’ ” said Paul Gallagher, who met Tedeschi several years ago through a real estate deal and produced a video commercial for her invention. “It’s going to take her into everybody’s house, purse, junk drawer.”
The repair kits are already available online at eyeego.com for $4.98. The kid includes four screws and a screwdriver.
Tedeschi, a former real estate developer, knew nothing about inventing when she started the process in 2006.
Coming up with the idea is easy compared to navigating the legal world of patents and the logistics of manufacturing and distributing, she said.
“Something else comes up that you don’t know anything about,” she said. “I have learned from soup to nuts how to do this.”
She found a Chinese manufacturer, a shipping company, a duty company to get the merchandise through customs and a warehouse.
After her run with Snap It, Tedeschi said she wants to devote her time to helping other inventors.
“It’s the hope that I want to give to people,” she said.
She spoke to inventors about believing in your product at the Inventors Association of Manhattan on Monday. “It gave me more satisfaction than a million dollars.”
Tedeschi would know how much satisfaction money brings.
She owned a title insurance company, Bennett Abstract Inc., and developed real estate in the Capital Region through her company NKT Land Acquisition Inc.
Until recently, she owned a 11,000-square-foot mansion on Riverview Road. She also once auctioned off a $20,000 collection of Beanie Babies for children’s charities.
She counts herself lucky that she made a lot of money early enough to know it’s not the best thing in the world.
“Money is an empty, hollow thing,” she said. Now her life savings are wrapped up in Snap It and the four patents she’s filed on the screw and its use.
Tedeschi has had her own helpers during the four years, including her friend, Andrea VanAlstine of Clifton Park, who went on the road with her to various expositions and trade shows, and Lynda Kinns of Clifton Park, who designed packaging and developed and maintains Tedeschi’s website.
The screw idea evolved from a different invention — a decorative bauble to hang from a person’s eyeglasses.
Tedeschi’s mother, Peg Farrell of Esperance, came up with that idea by chance when she lost her eyeglass screw on a trip to Peru in 2005 and repaired her spectacles with the only thing at her disposal — a dangle earring.
Her friends admired it so much she pitched the idea to her daughter as a product that people would buy.
While Tedeschi worked on that, she realized how difficult it was to insert eyeglass screws, and eventually came up with a solution.
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