Name: Kay Fredericks.
Age: 54 yrs.
'Foolish' Idea: Large, brightly colored figures, illustrating educational subjects for pre-school aged children. The figures to be interesting and full of texture, using yarn for hair and buttons for eyes.
Start-up Capital: $700 savings
How Idea was Launched: Kay Fredericks then husband, set up shop in a relative's basement and Trend Enterprises Inc., now with its head office in New Brighton, Minn., was born.
Sales: Products are sold in retail stores and catalogues. The firm, started in 1968, employs 175 people and markets 1,600 products in 43 countries.
Earnings: Trend Enterprises now generates over $30 million worth of sales a year.
It was while teaching at kindergarten that Kay Fredericks, first began developing her products, which eventually spawned her company, Trend Enterprises Inc.
Back in 1968, teachers of very young children had no educational aids, they had to produce their own. Kay Fredericks had a massive bulletin board, and she made large, colorful child size figures that the youngsters could relate to. To make the figures interesting she used yarn for hair and buttons for eyes. Teachers from all over the district were asking Kay to make figures for them.
But Kay never thought about giving up teaching until she had a car accident. Laying in hospital she had plenty of time to think, and decided that making learning items for other teachers was a sound business idea.
She started with no business experience and just $700 savings. Her then husband set up a shop in a relative's basement. Over the years, the business went from a basement to a $30million-a-year corporation.
On the way, Kay had to build her credibility as a business woman. Financing was difficult and some male suppliers refused to deal with a woman. When one supplier asked the receptionist to get a man to help him, Kay, sent him packing.
Trend Enterprises Inc. produce everything from colorful flash cards to high-quality bulletin boards, and the company has a mission of educating children throughout the world. From kindergarten teacher to corporate leader, Kay Fredericks turned $700 savings into a $30million a year empire that sells 1,600 products in 43 countries.