“Love gives you the courage to achieve any­thing!”

When sin­gle mom Joy Mangano found her­self strug­gling to sup­port her three young chil­dren, she de­fied the crit­ics, the naysay­ers and the fin­ger-wag­gers to in­vent a mop that’s brought in $10 mil­lion a year

Woman's World - - Rags To Riches - —Diane Ni­chols

Mak­ing her way onto the sound­stage, Joy Mangano squinted un­der the bright lights. It all hangs on this mo­ment, she thought, but­ter­flies danc­ing in her belly. With a deep breath, Joy tried to block out the voices of all the peo­ple who’d doubted her, Give up, they echoed. You’ll fail. But her heart had re­fused to lis­ten.

Sud­denly, the cam­era light blinked on and the broad­cast went live to mil­lions of view­ers. The room be­gan to spin, but Joy re­mem­bered the good-luck hugs from her kids and how—suc­ceed or fail—she was do­ing this for them. Joy straight­ened her shoul­ders, looked into the cam­era and held up her Mir­a­cle Mop.

A bet­ter way

Even as a lit­tle girl, the Long Is­land na­tive had a pas­sion for in­vent­ing. If the toaster didn’t heat fast enough, she lined it with self-re­flect­ing foil. When her dog cut his paws, she cre­ated gauze­lined ban­dage booties.

“There has to be a bet­ter way,” Joy would al­ways say.

Af­ter she grad­u­ated from col­lege and got mar­ried in 1978, her pas­sion for in­vent­ing was put on the back burner. But 11 years later, her mar­riage ended in heartache, and Joy had to rely on her in­ge­nu­ity to make ends meet.

“We’re go­ing to be okay,” Joy promised her three young chil­dren, hug­ging them close.

But soon, she was liv­ing pay­check to pay­check, work­ing long hours as an air­line reser­va­tions man­ager and a wait­ress. Barely able to pay the bills, Joy had to get cre­ative—sell­ing home­made wreaths and plan­ning free fam­ily out­ings—to save money and to en­sure her kids felt se­cure.

One af­ter­noon, Joy grabbed a mop to clean up a spill, scowl­ing while wring­ing out the filthy wa­ter with her hands. “There has to be a bet­ter way!” Sud­denly, a spark reignited in her heart…joy had an idea for a new in­ven­tion.

Never give up

Joy’s soul lit up as she sketched a de­sign then used house­hold items to cre­ate a pro­to­type for a new mop that could be wrung out with­out getting your hands dirty. And the Mir­a­cle Mop was born.

“It will never sell,” naysay­ers, store man­agers and even fam­ily mem­bers said. I know in my heart this will work, I have to try, she told her­self. So Joy sum­moned her courage, dipped into her mea­ger sav­ings and had 100 Mir­a­cle Mops man­u­fac­tured.

Over the next year, de­spite im­pos­si­ble odds, Joy sold more than 1,000 mops with her pas­sion­ate demon­stra­tions at trade shows and stores, her kids help­ing her ful­fill or­ders. But then she pitched the mop to Qvc…and her whole world changed.

Joy was thrilled when the net­work or­dered 5,000 Mir­a­cle Mops to sell on air, but the night it de­buted, only 500 units sold.

“The host didn’t know how to use it!” Joy told the pro­duc­ers, deeply dis­ap­pointed.

“That’s why we’re putting you on the air to sell them,” they replied.

Ter­ri­fied, Joy agreed to get in front of the cam­eras. But de­spite her nerves, she sold 18,000 mops in 30 min­utes.

That night, Joy hugged her kids. We did

it, we’ll be okay, she beamed. But lit­tle did Joy know, they’d be

more than okay. By 2000, her com­pany was sell­ing $10 mil­lion worth of Mir­a­cle Mops each year!

To­day, Joy is one of the most cel­e­brated in­ven­tors of her time, and the Os­car-nom­i­nated movie

Joy was made about her life. But for her, suc­cess isn’t mea­sured by fame or money. “For me, true suc­cess is lov­ing oth­ers and your­self,” she says. “Love gives you the courage to achieve any­thing!”

“Al­ways be­lieve in your­self,” says Joy, with her Mir­a­cle Mop in 1991.

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