How did a crash-test engineer with no business experience or knowledge of the toy industry turn a plastic device and a bag of rubber bands into Rainbow Loom, the super-hot kids’ craze and a multimillion-dollar business?
Choon Ng, a Malaysian immigrant, wasn’t even thinking about entering the toy market. He simply wanted to share the experience of making bracelets out of rubber bands with his daughters. But his fingers were too big.
Ng, who was employed as a crash-safety engineer for Nissan, went out to his garage workshop and made a device by pressing pushpins into a block of wood. With the aid of a hook, he could then make the bracelets. But when he showed his daughters the bracelets, they didn’t see the purpose of using of a device to make the same bracelets they could create by hand.
So Ng went back to the workshop. He rejiggered the contraption by creating three rows of pushpins. By wrapping rubber bands around the pushpins in geometric patters and then pulling them off, he was able to create more elaborate rubber-band bracelets than his daughters could make by hand. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, look at this. I just discovered a new craft right in front of me,’” Ng said. Continue reading “How to Engineer a Fad”