Lisa Russac’s startup story didn’t begin with a dose of inspiration. Rather, she created her patented Clip and Hang product out of sheer frustration. Russac wanted a simple storage solution that would organize the hats, gloves and various other garments that had turned her coat closet into a total mess. When she couldn’t find a product on the market to sort the clutter, she decided to create one herself. What she wound up with was a vertical hanging strap with three sturdy clips that allows users to store outdoor gear, pantry items and whatever else might need sorting. Today the Levittown, New York, entrepreneur is focused on boosting her marketing and advertising efforts to spread the word about her handy tidying solution.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, fromThe Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
My product is unique because it is patented. I sketched many ideas and tested numerous handmade prototypes until I got what I desired.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
Participating in the 2023 New York Women’s Expo, which showcases businesses from around the state for thousands of women attendees.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Social media marketing. To help, I hired a friend who has over 30 years of marketing experience.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
Several years back, while I was still in the market research phase of developing the Clip and Hang, I went through a divorce. It knocked me down for quite some time, and it was difficult to get back on my feet while also helping my son adjust. It was a trying time for us all, but I persisted – I decided I would not let Clip and Hang disappear, nor would I sacrifice my child’s happiness.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Do your homework! After a collaboration deal fell through, I listened to podcasts that featured women entrepreneurs for fresh perspective. One episode mentioned, iFundWomen, a fundraising and mentoring platform for women entrepreneurs. I invested in their coaching program, and it was the best money I have ever spent.
Now, I am moving in the right direction – I’m setting milestones, learning how to write a pitch, working on my social media marketing skills, and more. I also launched a successful fundraising campaign that generated enough money to create a professional video for my website.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I trust and talk to the big guy upstairs every morning. I also write down three things I am grateful for at the end of each day.
What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?
“Keep On” by D Train.
Who is your most important role model?
Jamie Kern Lima, the founder of IT cosmetics. I worked in the beauty industry for over 20 years before starting up, and have seen firsthand how the barriers she broke have benefitted so many women in the industry. ◼
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