Creative, innovative, and daring — all words that can describe entrepreneur Joy Mangano. She built a $50 million fortune by creating a wide range of products that helped to make life easier for both herself and others. Out of that she has managed to own more than 100 patents. Mangano also uses her success to encourage, through her foundation, others to see their potential and helps them to develop their own “success” stories.

Early Life and Education

Although much of Mangano’s life remains personal, she was born in the vibrant state of New York in 1956 to Italian-American parents. During her teenage years Mangano saw the potential of a need and created a flea collar that would make cats and dogs more visible at nights.

Her idea, however, was never patented, and a similar product was manufactured before her idea had the opportunity to become real. Despite her misfortune, Mangano made a pact, with herself, that her next invention would come to fruition. In the interim, she later went to Pace University in New York City and graduated in 1978 with a degree in Business Administration. Shortly after graduating she got married to Anthony Miranne, her university sweetheart, and waded through of wavering jobs.

Reinventing the Mop

By 1989, Mangano had divorced her husband and has raised her three children as a single mother ever since. The following year she concocted a product dubbed the “Miracle Mop” in order to help to alleviate the drudgery of mopping house as a busy mom. There was no seeming novelty in the mop, and her invention was initially scoffed. However, Mangano’s mop was designed like no other with a super absorbent cotton material that would prevent users from getting their hands dirty in the mucky water.

Mangano’s desire to have a product like the Miracle Mop clasped around her hands made her feel that she could not be the only one, so she invested all of her savings into producing a prototype of the product in a small area of her father’s shop. As ludicrous as it may sound, Mangano took her prototype of the mop, a small portion of her kitchen flour and demonstrated the mop’s unique design almost anywhere she could find people. The locations where she pitched her product included parking lots and even boat shows.

Selling on National Television

In 1992, Mangano successfully managed to get the home shopping network QVC to sell her Miracle Mop. According to Response Magazine, Mangano started off her QVC partnership with a 1,000 unit consignment deal. The original airing of the Miracle Mop realized disappointing sales numbers and as a result Mangano offered to demonstrate the product herself on the air. She sold an impressive 18,000 units within her first 30 minutes.

Ingenious Designs LLC, the company that owned all of Mangano’s products, was sold to USA Networks, the parent to the Home Shopping Network (HSN), in 1999 for an undisclosed amount. Mangano continues to serve as the company’s president. By the year 2000, the Miracle Mop was grossing around $10 million in sales annually.

Other Successes

Equally inspiring is the fact that Mangano has had a career spanning almost 30 years, and possesses over 100 patents for her inventions. Mangano’s winning streak with the success of the Miracle Mop has not subsided. She has created other great hits like the “Rolykit”, “The Piatto Baker Box”, the "Jewel Kit”, “My Little Steamer”, “Joys Forever Fragrant” and “Huggable Hangers”, which has sold over 700,000,000 units to date.

All of these innovations have been birthed from Mangano’s ability to identify and connect with a product need; as well as her desire to eliminate this need in order to make life easier. In a 2001 interview with the New York Times, Mangano said, “I think my products have been successful because they have mass appeal. I'm just like everybody else out there. I'm a mom, I work, I have a house to clean, things to organize. We all have certain similar needs, and I address them.'"

Mangano has since started the Joy Mangano Foundation to assist and encourage others who have brilliant ideas to unearth.