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When it comes to inventors, Russie Jones has done more than turn on the light bulb. She has created a way for the light bulb to literally turn on without power! Russie is the genius behind the Rely-a-Light, a decorative emergency lamp that comes on as soon as the power goes out. It can work for up to 16 HOURS without ANY power AND it has a USB port to charge your phone or tablet built into the lamp. If you’ve been following me for awhile, then you’d probably heard me talk about how awesome this lamp is. As a mom, I love the idea of having something reliable in the event of an emergency that helps keep our family safe. I don’t always have my phone charged. In fact, as of lately, it’s really rare for my phone to have much of a charge. Keeping up with kids, a baby, Instagram, and life makes me forget to put it on the charger. But I have comfort in knowing that in the event of an emergency, I can plug it in and hopefully make calls or get important updates via local news or weather. It’s also great for elderly people who may need the light to guide them to safety at night. I think every house needs one for safety. Keeping up with flashlights and batteries is a pain and candles, especially with small children, can be dangerous. But Rely-a-Light is simple. It works really well and it’s such an amazing concept!
As if that wasn’t cool enough, Russie launched another emergency lamp, this time for children. It’s called the LampAngel and it works the same way, but it comes with a fun remote for kids to change the color of the lamp. If your kids are like mine, they are VERY serious about their favorite colors and they probably also love technology. LampAngel gives parents peace of mind and it gives kids something fun for their room that they get to choose.
Aside from her product, which I love, Russie has continued to inspire me over the years with her story. She is one of the strongest women I know and no matter what life throws at her, she’s always coming back stronger and better. I am so excited to share this interview with everyone and hopefully inspire you to follow your dreams in life, and no matter what, never give up!
Meet Russie Jones:
Lindsay Satmary: When was Rely-a-Light launched?
RJ: Rely-A-Light with USB ports was officially launched in very late 2013. The concept was “born” at our kitchen table in 2009 but due to a number of personal issues and a total lack of knowing what I was doing we didn’t get off the ground until 2013. We came up with the idea in 2009 but then my father died, 3 months later I was diagnosed with cancer and 11 months later I was diagnosed with early on-set Parkinson’s Disease. In and out of treatments for the health problems left little time for Rely-A-Light but during sleepless nights I was in contact with China working on sourcing, drawing designs in hospital beds, and eventually God granted me the gift of good enough health to carry on and see this thing through!
LS: How did you come up with the concept?
RJ: In 2006, 2 months after my mother passed away, my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. We took him to see the doctor after he caught his house on fire 3 times. All of his other symptoms we had attributed to grief since he had lost his wife of 53 years only a few months earlier so we sold his house and moved him in with us. He also suffered from severe osteoporosis, end stage COPD and was on oxygen 24 hours a day. In 2009 a horrible ice storm hit the south and left us without power for 6 days. My dad was already tucked in bed for the night, watching TV. When the TV went off he got up to see what was going on, got tangled in his oxygen tubing and fell. Fortunately we were there and got him up off the floor and he had no broken bones. We started thinking about what would have happened if dad had lived alone, he would have laid on the floor until someone got there to pick him up. He used a walker like so many others his age and couldn’t use a flashlight while using the walker to get around so we needed to come up with a solution for seniors in a power outage. We needed a bright light source that would come on immediately when the power went out so that seniors can see to get along. We then realized that people of all ages need to have light and as important, communication. We added a USB port in the base of our lamps that will charge your smart devices all the time, both with and without AC power present.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Have you ever lost power? Don’t be caught in the dark. Learn about @relyalight” quote=”Have you ever lost power? Don’t be caught in the dark. Learn about @relyalight”]
LS: Who are your most popular customers (target demographic)?
RJ: The most amazing thing about our product is that it is not age, gender, geographic or seasonally specific. We originally thought that women age 45-65 would be our target demographic. It has turned out that men love our lamps for the “gadget” aspect and women love it for the style and security. With our LampAngel we thought our demographic would be young/new mothers, it has grown to be the go-to lamp for dorms, new apartments, and even seniors love the “nightlight” part of the lamp to light their way to the bathroom at night without having to turn on bright overhead lights.
pictured above: Rely-a-Light in the US Air Force barracks in Afghanistan
LS: How many styles of lamps are available for purchase?
RJ: We have several residential styles, eleven total and then the LampAngel. We have eight hospitality styles. Our goal is to license our patented technology to all major lamp manufacturers. Style is what gets the initial attention of the consumer because they want a style that will be compatible with the decor of their home.
pictured above, Russie with her son, Evan, speaking at an event at her Alma Mater, EKU
LS: As an entrepreneur, where do you find inspiration?
RJ: Being saddled with health problems can be draining but my business gives me a reason to get up every morning. Creating a product is a lot like having a baby: You start with conception, your idea is your own and you are so very proud of it, then you send it off to be tested to see what grade level it is currently performing (patent application). Then it’s off to school waiting patiently to see how good it’s grades will be (retail testing). Then finally it’s off to college. We aren’t there yet but I sure will be happy when we get there!!!
LS: What’s playing on your iPod right now?
RJ:Boom Boom Pow by The Black Eyed Peas
LS: What was the last book you enjoyed reading?
RJ:Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. She builds the book around the quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who thrives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly!” My yoga teacher also teaches mindfulness and she studied under Ms. Brown. She led a series of classes and introduced me to the Brene Brown books, they are amazing!
[clickToTweet tweet=”Did you know @relyalight SOLD OUT on @HSN in just TEN MINUTES?! Meet the #entrepreneur behind it:” quote=”Did you know @relyalight SOLD OUT on @HSN in just TEN MINUTES?! Meet the #entrepreneur behind it:”]
LS: Share a business milestone that you are proud of.
RJ:Getting our patent with every allowance we ask for! Most exciting day ever! Second was our sell out in less than 10 minutes on our initial appearance with LampAngel on HSN.
LS: What exciting plans for Rely-a-Light’s future can you share with us?
RJ:We are getting into the hospitality industry which is very exciting and we also have some new innovative technology advances coming soon!
LS: If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why?
RJ: Joy Mangano!!! I am like her in that I can sell my product better than anyone. We seem to have a lot in common and I would love to be a sponge and soak up everything she could tell me about business.
LS: What is something you’ve learned so far as an entrepreneur?
RJ:Nothing ever goes as planned. You start on a path and take a thousand turns. One of my favorite sayings is, “She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” by Elizabeth Edwards. My other take away is that most of the good and successful entrepreneurs are more than willing to help each other. It is NOT a dog eat dog world of entrepreneurship UNLESS YOU ARE A DOG. There are plenty of people out there that are all about themselves but the majority of the entrepreneurs that I have met I now consider my friends.
LS: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
RJ: Ireland! I was adopted at 8 months old and my parents brought me home on St. Patrick’s Day. I was bald as a billiard ball at the time but my mother told my dad that I was going to be a redhead and voila’, I am! I got a shamrock plant every “Gotcha Day” from my Daddy. I still have the last two that he gave me and they are still going strong! My mother called me her lucky Irish girl so I want to visit Ireland, kiss the blarney stone, pub crawl and see the Emerald Isle.
LS: Entrepreneurs often work long hours. How do you enjoy spending your time off to recharge?
RJ: With my best friend, my husband! We love to travel, see our kids and grand kids and just enjoy each other. He still gives me butterflies in my stomach, I am a very lucky girl! My mom was right!
LS: How did you come up with the concept for Lamp Angel?
RJ: Our youngest grandchild is on the Autism Spectrum and we noticed that colored lights seem to calm him down before he became verbal. He was completely non-verbal until he was 3 so he stayed frustrated trying to tell us what he wanted, needed or any type of communication. So we came up with the idea of a shatter resistant acrylic remote controlled color changing lamp for him to help him calm down and to help him and his older brother get to sleep quicker. It worked for them so we decided others might like it, too. Our youngest is verbal now and is doing great, his older brother and him still enjoy the LampAngel for bedtime.
LS: How has being an entrepreneur changed your life?
RJ: The relationships that I have garnered are priceless. I have worked side by side with my husband, my children and my oldest grandchildren which has strengthened our relationships and my grand daughter is destined to be an entrepreneur! Also, I have met so many wonderful people, some that are now like part of my family! That is the most important part of this journey for me. If I have helped or positively influenced even one person during this crazy adventure, then I have been successful!
Owner and operator of Paperclips & Confetti, a motherhood + lifestyle blog sharing all the best of #momlife. Lindsay is a mom of 3 (ages 2-7). Lover of Disney World, office supplies, subscription boxes, and social media. Instagram: @paperclipsandconfetti