TRY IT — YOU’LL BE HOOKED

During a 10-year stint at Memphis in May, Randy Blevins constantly found himself traveling for work. With important meetings always around the corner, it was a hassle to keep his professional attire in good condition, especially when factoring in the limited amenities at some hotels. “No matter how carefully you pack, clothes are always going to have some wrinkles,” he says. “I really can’t stand ironing, so I looked to use steam in the hotel shower to get wrinkles out.” Some hotel showers, however, didn’t have a bar to hang clothes on, or didn’t have implements that worked with the hangars he carried in his suitcase. That prompted Blevins to seek out a solution.

His constant tinkering eventually produced the Steam Clip, a hook implement that functions with any hotel setup. “It works on a shallow curtain rod,” says Blevins, “but also on surfaces like glass walls, which you’ll find at many contemporary hotels.” But wait, there’s more… In addition to its main hook functionality, Blevins added several components that would be useful to travelers, such as a bottle opener, smartphone stand, and thread/tag cutter.

Randy Blevins

Blevins sketched out several variations before crafting a prototype himself out of wire frames. Once he’d settled on a design, he turned to 3D-printing to manufacture a functional model. After several adjustments, he acquired the patent. To get the project off the ground, Blevins used the crowdfunding service indiegogo to finance the project. The campaign, which launched last September, was fully funded within a week.

The product is available on the indiegogo page and Blevins also created his own website to promote it. A large chunk of interest came from the United Kingdom. “We’re going to launch on Amazon UK next week,” says Blevins, “while our presence on Amazon here in the States is coming soon. Around 7 percent of my sales have come from the UK, and beyond that I’ve been shipping Steam Clip to around 20 different countries.”

So far, Blevins has seen his product getting media recognition. The website smartertravel.com selected Steam Clip for its Golden Editor’s Choice award and called it the best travel gadget of 2018. Perhaps his biggest coup, however, was using his music connections to convince the Recording Academy to include it in the official Grammy Awards gift bag. That means huge artists such as Drake, Lady Gaga, and Willie Nelson all left the music awards show with Blevins’ Steam Clip in their possession. “When I sent
my proposal to them, they said it was exactly the type of thing they were looking for,” he says. “Musicians that are on the road, and are Grammy-level musicians, are usually frequent travelers. Now, everyone you saw up on that stage received a Steam Clip.” Blevins hopes that artists like Justin Timberlake or Dolly Parton will make the Tennessee connection and give some attention to the versatile gadget.

Steam Clip — manufactured completely in the United States — is only the first of Blevins’ ventures. The inventor/entrepreneur has many new ideas in the pipeline. “Once I have this built out, I’d like to turn out one or two new products per year,” he says.

– By Samuel X. Cicci

WHAT’S GOING ON

– Southern Airways, operator of 600 weekly flights across 20 cities, has acquired Hawaiian-based Mokulele Airlines. The deal is Southern’s third in the last four years. Southern is established in the Gulf South, the mid-Atlantic, and South Florida. It now adds Hawaii and California to its portfolio. Following the integration of the two airlines, the combined entity will operate 1,380 weekly flights, more than any other commuter airline in the 50 states. Southern began in 2013 by offering flights from Memphis, Tenn. to Destin, Fla. using a total of four pilots and three aircraft. It’s headquartered in Hernando, Miss.

– A new survey shows that the Tennessee Medical Association is widely regarded among Tennessee policymakers and political insiders as one of the most valuable and trusted advocacy organizations on Capitol Hill. Capitol Resources, LLC, a multi-state government relations firm with offices in Tennessee, conducted an anonymous survey from July through October 2018 to find out where lawmakers prefer to turn for information and which advocacy organizations and other sources are considered most trustworthy.

NEWS FROM OTHER SOURCES

– The FedEx Logistics HQ takeover of the Gibson Guitar plant has churned several developments. Read Wayne Risher’s story in the Daily Memphian here.

– The Clipper, an eight-story office building and 250-room hotel, is going up near the FedEx Logistics site. The Memphis Business Journal‘s Jacopb Steimer has the story here.

– XPO Logistics is closing its Verizon-contracted facility in Memphis that has been the focus of pregnancy discrimination allegations. The Commercial Appeal’s Phillip Jackson and Micaela Watts have the story here.

UPCOMING EVENTS

– Girls Inc. of Memphis Panel: Girls In.c hosts its next #GirlsToo Teen Talk panel, with local youth leaders from the Memphis community covering topics such as sexual harassment and consent conversations. Facilitators for the event will include representatives from the Shelby County Crime Victims & Rape Crisis Center and the University of Memphis Sexual Assault Prevention & Awareness Coalition. Free and open to the public. February 23, 10 a.m., Lucille Devore Tucker Center. More info here.

– Whiskey Warmer: Sample whiskeys from around the world, meet master distillers, and enjoy local food and live music. Ticket ($34) includes 15 tastings and access to all areas of the event. Proceeds benefit Volunteer Memphis. March 22, 6-9 p.m., Overton Square. More info here. 

– Camp Expo: Local and area camps show their offerings this year for kids from preschool to 18. Meet camp staff, see videos, and take home informational material. Event is free and at the Memphis Botanic Garden. Admission to the Garden and My Big Backyard is included. March 23, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. More info here.

– Margarita Festival: Vote on the city’s best margarita makers. Ticket ($34) includes entry to the event and 15 margarita samples, plus food, cash bar, and entertainment. Proceeds benefit Volunteer Memphis. May 11, 3-6 p.m., Fourth Bluff Park. More info here.

THE HOT SHEET

Who’s getting promoted? Who’s closing big deals? Who’s getting awards? Inside Memphis Business magazine’s Hot Sheet has the latest on milestones in Memphis.

– Black McLaren Jones Ryland & Griffee, P.C., added attorneys Megan E. Arthur and Amy Worrell Sterling to the firm.

– Lehman-Roberts Co. received a 2018 Quality in Construction Award from the National Asphalt and Pavement Association.

– The University of Tennessee Health Science Center received a major grant to bolster its mobile stroke unit.

POWER PLAYER

Inside Memphis Business magazine publishes a list of local Power Players every year. These are the movers and shakers in more than 30 categories who get things done in their respective fields. IMB’s April issue has the complete list. We also publish individual categories in other issues throughout the year, and we feature individual Power Players in our weekly Tip Sheet.

This week’s Power Player is Lance Hollingsworth: Principal, senior vice president, and chief investment officer, Summit Asset Management LLC. B.B.A., magna cum laude, U of M. Certified Financial Planner professional. With firm since 1995. Active in St. Francis Home and School Association, St. Vincent de Paul, Memphis chapter of Families with Children from China. Volunteers as youth basketball coach and with youth golf development. Member, Tiger Scholarship Fund.