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Christine Mangnall-Schwarz, children’s book author and inventor, has catapulted her success with her latest invention, Cozy Wings, which are a wearable cape-and-wing combo for kids and adults. This past February she was a finalist for a Rising Star award at the prestigious 15th annual Women in Toys Wonder Women Awards Gala.
“Cozy Wings developed from the things my daughters enjoy,” Mangnall-Schwarz commented. “There were a set of acetate butterfly wings and I thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice if they were made in a soft material and had elastic straps.’ I had the idea for a year before we started the patent process. We knew it was viable but were unsure of where to begin. It has been almost a five-year process; everything takes time.”
Although spectacular things take time to evolve, time is of the essence for Mangnall-Schwarz. Just as she gained creditable representation and has signed her first three licenses for her inventions with major companies, including one of the world’s biggest toy companies, Funko, she was diagnosed with Stage IV Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC). The National Cancer Institute states that IBC is a rare and aggressive form of the disease which accounts for one-to-five percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States. A year ago, she was told she had three weeks to live. A year later she still continues to operate Cozy Wings.
“We have other things in the hopper,” Mangnall-Schwarz states, “so it makes it easier to keep going. We have great promise with a new licensing partner and we know what our capability is…we have a lot more visibility of what the new company can do; you have to stay hopeful. It ties in exactly where my health is now. Right after we found out that we had a great deal, I found out that I had breast cancer. All through this, we have had great triumphs and devastating lows. And, so, it’s been a roller coaster ride the whole time. It’s what everybody’s life is. It’s just that mine is a little extreme right now.”
Mangnall-Schwarz is no stranger to hard work. Before Cozy Wings, she was a professional ballroom dancer, real estate agent, spokesmodel, artist and gallery owner. It wasn’t until her children’s book, Bubble Tubbie, which is a sensory romp through a child’s imagination as they experience the most cherished of childhood rituals: the bubble bath, that her successful entrepreneurial career launched.
“When my girls were small I had been doing some art shows with my paintings,” she explains the idea behind her book. “I had begun to dabble with writing. This is something I had been experimenting with and one day when they were in the bathtub this poetry just kind of flowed out of me. I hung onto it and I thought I could make something out of this. Over the course of five-years, I learned about the publishing industry and what It took to make this happen. I ended up self-publishing. I knew what my vision was of the book; my husband introduced me to the printer. Then came the idea for the bath book.” One of her proudest moments was the day the first copies of her book arrived.
So far, Mangnall-Schwarz has won at least six industry awards with her book idea. Her children’s book was a first of a kind where the book has been produced in three distinct formats simultaneously: hardcover with bath stickers, translucent plastic bathtub book with LED light bubble ball and an interactive book app for the iPad. She even got her daughters involved in the process. They narrated the story for the iPad application.
Mangnall-Schwarz’s ability and mindset to keep going developed over time. “My early life was pretty traumatic,” she states. “There weren’t a lot of choices except to keep going forward unless you wanted to destroy yourself…All the way along giving up was not an option.”
Throughout Mangnall-Schwarz’s continued rollercoaster ride, she makes it a point to remind others to focus on these essential steps during their pivotal moments:
- Flush out your idea. Don’t let anyone discourage you on step one. It’s your idea, your journey, just keep going.
- Do your research. Make sure you’re not replicating someone else’s idea. Tweak it if you have to but make sure your voice comes through.
- Never give up. Maybe you don’t know how to do something right now but eventually, you will. It is marvelous to look back on everything.
“Even though I know I am not going to live much longer,” Mangnall-Schwarz concludes, “everyone saw me do the best I could while I was here. I’ve been here and my girls have seen how I live and how I did things. I don’t regret anything. I’ve just been here the whole time and they know who I am and how I live my life.”
March 4, 2019 at 12:17PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs