Lori Greiner doesn't consider herself a neat freak. She just has this thing about keeping things organized.
Of course, a lot of people fit that description. But while most people might purchase a collection of organizers at their favorite store, Greiner takes out her sketch pad and creates her own. The results have made her an entrepreneurial success story and one of the most popular sellers on QVC, where she's celebrating her 10th anniversary this spring.
"I'm not obsessive. I don't have a cleaning compulsion. But I had a lot of jewelry that was just thrown in a box, and it was a mess. I couldn't find anything," Greiner said. "I really just thought it would be great to find a solution for my earrings so I could find what I wanted."
Greiner created an earring organizer, and the rest, as they say, is retail history.
Greiner's For Your Ease Only brand has racked up more than $350 million in sales. In the 13 years she has been in business, she has created more than 250 products (including 99 patents), offering shoppers solutions for organizing everything from their jewelry and makeup to their remote controls, the sweaters kept under their beds, and even cooking supplies.
Not bad for a former aspiring playwright who sold her own jewelry on the side.
"When I first started, it took forever to get my product seen, so many phone calls. I must have called 100 times before I could even get someone to pick up the phone," Greiner said. "Then, once I got my foot in the door, the buyer who had worked with me on my jewelry organizer said, 'Well, what's next?'
"I hadn't thought of anything else, but that question spurred me on to come up with a product that could become the next big thing."
In her first six months in business, Greiner signed a deal to create products for JC Penney. Within a year, she was selling her products on cable TV; during her first appearance, she sold 2,500 earring organizers in just two minutes. Within 18 months, her business had earned enough to pay back a $300,000 loan that she and her husband, Dan, used to launch it. Within three years, Greiner's business had brought in more than $10 million in sales.
"After I learned what to do, it wasn't really that hard for me. I just started looking around me," she said. "I would ask myself, 'What do I need? What would make things better? What would I like?' "
Greiner's top seller for QVC has been an antitarnish cabinet for gold and silver jewelry. More than 300,000 of the $76.80 cabinets have been sold in four years, according to QVC.
Today, Greiner has offices in the Philadelphia area and near Chicago, where she and husband live. Her days are filled with coming up with ideas or overseeing production. She even buys the products herself to test quality control.
And the flow of ideas is constant. Last month, she launched 10 items as part of her 10th-anniversary celebration with QVC. And her appearances - usually several a month - often offer a mix of new products and best sellers.
Greiner keeps pads of paper everywhere around her house to capture ideas as they come to her, and filling them is never difficult, she said.
"The ideas just keep coming. Sometimes they come more frequently than at other times, but they do come," Greiner said. "There are always things that are needed. There are always ways to do things better. It's all about offering solutions."
She admits there's one room in her home that isn't neatly organized: the workroom where she creates her organizers.
Said Grenier with a laugh: "My little laboratory at home is just filled with stuff. It's my mad-scientist room and it's a mess. It's definitely not neat and organized. Like I said, I'm not a neat freak. But I do know where everything is."