People & Leadership

What all entrepreneurs can learn from famous inventor Joy Mangano


When The Miracle Mop was introduced in 1990, it not only changed the way that people mopped, but it launched a single mom inventor into business success. Her name is Joy Mangano, and her biopic “Joy” hit the big screen starring Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence in 2016. The movie follows her struggle to raise her children on her own, make ends meet, and launch a career as one of HSN’s most successful sellers and popular inventors.

What can all entrepreneurs learn from Joy Mangano? Here are three key lessons:

1) Don’t hesitate to put your creative ideas in motion

Joy always had a passion for invention and finding new ideas to help people. As a teen, she worked at an animal hospital and realized that fluorescent flea collars would help save dogs and cats from being hit by cars. When Hartz put out a similar product the next year, she vowed that she would be to market first on her next idea.

As a single mom, working two jobs to support three children, Joy needed to save time wherever she could. Her frustration with mopping, specifically, drove her to create a product that would make the job easier. “I was tired of bending down, putting my hands in dirty water, wringing out a mop,” she told ABC’s 20/20. “So I said, ‘There has got to be a better way.’” She started experimenting with designs, and in 1990 she borrowed money from her family in order to launch the first prototype of the Miracle Mop.

2) Stay focused

After success locally and regionally, she took her product to QVC in 1992. The network thought that the mop would be a great fit for their home shoppers, but the first demo and commercial was disappointing. QVC executives told her that her mop wasn’t likely to sell well on TV. Joy pleaded with the network to let her demonstrate the product herself, and her appearance sold 18,000 mops in 20 minutes. Today, Joy is one of the most well-known hosts on the network.

Although her first big seller is still a hit, Joy didn’t stop there. She launched a company, Ingenious Designs, and continued to solve problems with her products and delight audiences. From jewelry to baked goods to travel items, Joy has created it all. But her biggest seller by far has been Huggable Hangers, which have a velvety texture to keep clothes hanging right. They are HSN’s #1 seller (over 700 million have been sold) and they have the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

3) Believe in yourself

“It might sound crazy to take a leap of faith into the unknown if you’re venturing out to start a business or just starting out in your career, but I think it’s always important to do what feels right to you. Voicing your opinion or ideas when needed is important, and trusting those opinions and ideas is even more crucial. Others will respect you for holding fast to those beliefs.”

Joy’s #1 piece of advice for entrepreneurs is to go for your dreams; follow through on ideas that might be big. She told 20/20 that “in a million years, I never thought I’d be in the place, in this situation 20 years ago. All because of a mop that started it. It truly is the American dream.”