8. LOOM BANDS
The humble rubber band is all the rage in schools today. The ability to create your own jewellery with rubber bands has been a hit, selling 3 million units worldwide!
The inventor : Cheong Choon Ng.
What it is: The Rainbow Loom is a plastic device for turning small rubber bands into jewellery.
Cheong Choon Ng, a former engineer turned inventor of the loom band.
How did it happen: I forged a career in crash safety in Detroit's motor industry. I loved my job, but regretted not seeing my two daughters much.
They were nine and 12, and distant towards me. One night after work, I saw them making bracelets from rubber bands and I thought, "Hey, I know how to do this. Maybe I can impress you girls." I sat down and showed them how to link the rubber bands together, using the same technique we had used to make jumping ropes back in Malaysia. But the bracelets kept falling apart. I went down to my basement, grabbed a scrapboard and stuck multiple rows of pushpins into it. Then I started linking the bands in a zigzag, like a diamond shape, and it worked really well.
The next day, my daughters took a bunch of colourful bracelets to school. I became a neighbourhood hero overnight. Children would come up to me and ask me to make them bracelets. It was my older daughter, Teresa, who first suggested selling them. I spent six months developing the product and designed 28 different versions.
But no-one knew how to use the loom.
So Ng and his daughters made instructional videos and put them on YouTube. Their YouTube channel now has more than 13 million views, not including videos by customers sharing their own designs.
Ng said their first big success came in the summer of 2012, when a Learning Express Toys franchise owner who’d ordered 48 kits placed a US$10,000 (RM32,000) order soon after.
Since then, Rainbow Loom has caught the imagination of children and teenagers, with over three million kits sold.
By April, Rainbow Loom’s assembly and distribution had moved from Ng’s living room to a warehouse, and they now have 14 employees. Rainbow Looms are sold in more than 2,000 retail outlets.
One of the world's VIPs who wears the loom band is the Duchess of Cambridge.