As Kim Whitley prepared for work, on a day more than a decade ago, she was struggling to find the jewelry she wanted to wear.
Her jewelry was unorganized and often tangled.
“I was like this is ridiculous — women still deal with jewelry like they did in the 1800s,” Whitley said. “I thought, ‘Why has nothing been done differently?’”
Whitley called her friend Adele McLean. The pair have been friends since third grade at Jenkins Elementary School.
“I called her and I said, I know you’re going to think I’m crazy but, I said, would you want to work on something like this?”
The pair put their heads together to create BlingBook — a jewelry storage system that keeps it all in place, untangled and easy to travel with. The book is covered in quilted black leather-style fabric, and looks like a photo album. Inside, soft, fabric pages hold the jewelry. Clips and plastic strips Velcro to the pages to hold necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets in any position. Plastic covers Velcro on top of the page to keep it clean and protected.
The jewelry can stay in the book, or individual pages can be taken out for travel or to hang on clothes hangers to match jewelry to outfits.
The idea for the BlingBook came soon after Whitley called McLean years ago. But the process to get prototypes made, a manufacturer found and the business up and running took years. The biggest push to bring the dream to reality was a grant from the Chamber of Catawba County, when BlingBook won the Edison Project competition in 2015.
“It really started moving forward when we won the Edison Project,” Whitley said. “We got the $10,000 cash prize but more importantly it got us some mentorship relationships.”
Through those connections, they found a design firm in Raleigh to create a technical design for the product, then got the patent. After that, they found a manufacturer that could produce it.
“We really think it’s not like anything else out there,” Whitley said.
The books launched April 1 and are available online and in some local stores, Whitley said. Whitley and McLean are planning to sell the organizer in several bridal and jewelry stores locally, but the duo expects most sales to occur online.
Whitley and McLean are hoping for the best, and have big dreams for the company — like being featured in magazines or recognized by celebrities and influencers.
Their first sales are already coming in, and Whitley and McLean are ecstatic, Whitley said.
“It’ll take us a while to recoup what we’ve got in (the business) but it just feels nice that someone thinks enough of the product to buy it,” she said.
To learn more, visit www.theblingbook.com.