No one knows that better than Kim Olenicoff, founder of Solutions That Stick Inc., a Southern California-based company that has carved out a niche selling weird, offbeat products that solve common problems.
Olenicoff is the proud creator of best-selling gems like Subtle Butt – a small strip of activated carbon fabric with an antimicrobial layer that absorbs the stench of farts when placed inside underwear – and Yoobies, inflatable inserts for bras that give the girls a quick lift. Now, she is lending a helping hand to fellow innovators who want consumers to get wind of their own zany products.
Olenicoff and her crew at Solutions That Stick have just launched the I Should Have Invented That! Contest, urging aspiring inventors to submit their ideas before midnight PST on Nov. 12 at solutionsthatstick.com.
A panel of judges including retail experts will choose seven to 10 finalists and post them on Facebook.com/SolutionsThatStick for the public to vote on beginning Nov. 17.
Whichever inventor gets the most votes by Dec. 2 will win the contest and get the guidance to finally turn their idea or product into a reality -- before someone else thinks of it.
Olenicoff told AOL News she'll personally help steer the winning inventor in the right direction, from helping with the design of the product to manufacturing and marketing it.
"The winner will have the choice to move forward with the manufacturing and financing independently or they can allow Solutions That Stick to make and finance the product, earning a 10 percent royalty on all sales," she said. "Either way, the product will gain instant free publicity and a built-in fan base of consumers who are ready and willing to buy it."
Because everything -- except for the great idea itself -- is laid out for participants, Olenicoff likens the contest to "pressing the 'easy button' on the inventing process."
"A lot of times people are intimidated by the steps that follow the invention of a product, so they just keep their ideas inside their head. This contest is an apprenticeship type of thing, because we'll teach people how to actually get their products made," she said.
Although she's only received one entry so far -- for a jacket with waterproof sleeves submitted by a fisherman who's sick of having soaking wet arms on the job -- Olenicoff is confident that submissions will come pouring in once people hear about the contest.
"My theory is that people already have these ideas stored up, they just haven't shared them with anyone. You have no idea how many times I've heard a customer say, 'I thought of that years ago,' when they call in to order one of our products."
Olenicoff says the contest is "encouraging the wacky" when it comes to entries because, as her company has proven, weird works.
"People love easy, low-tech solutions to everyday problems. You don't need to brainstorm some super high-tech device to win this," she said.
Speaking from first-hand experience, Olenicoff says the best ideas come when one least expects it.
"Subtle Butt," for instance, was born while she was on a diving trip in Mexico and her traveling companions were feeling extra gassy.
"After a weekend of Mexican food and beer, the airplane ride back home just stank. The flight attendants were running away from us. That's when I knew there had to be a solution, some way to absorb the smell of farts," Olenicoff recalled.
Another one of her popular creations, the "Pocksie," an adhesive portable pocket that can be stuck inside your jacket, shoe or bra, also came to her while traveling.
She didn't want to lug around a purse, so she thought of the useful little pocket that could carry all the necessities – keys, cash and credit cards.
"Our products are simple, but they get the job done," said Olenicoff.
One expert who agrees that less is more is Cheryl, an Oregon-based buyer for Solutions catalog with more than 20 years of experience in retail sales.
Cheryl, one of the judges for the inventions contest, told AOL News the biggest hits in retail are usually products that are easy to use and "solve a basic, everyday problem."
"Anything that can save space, easily tuck away or be used for multiple purposes usually does well with consumers. Kitchen products are very popular right now," said Cheryl, who asked that her last name be withheld.
Over her career as a buyer, Cheryl says she's seen her fair share of weird and wacky products, including a kit that allowed people to give the trees in their yards a faux face and a tissue box shaped like one of the famous moai statues from Easter Island (the tissues came out out of its nose).
Cheryl hopes to see plenty of functionality and creativity in the submissions and says anything that "makes cooking or cleaning faster" will likely win her over.
"Also, anything that takes away wrinkles or gray hair is a winner on my list," she joked.
Fellow contest judge Steve Johnson, the blogger behind strangenewproducts.com, also hopes to see extreme originality among the entries.
Since starting his website a few years ago he's seen plenty of wacky inventions, so he is really looking for something that is truly fresh and unique.
He says some of the best -- and oddest -- products he's ever come across include a blue glowing light that sits underneath a child's bed to repel any pesky monster, and wedgie-proof underwear designed by a kid who was getting bullied in school.
Johnson says there's also a whole realm of interesting "spray-on stuff," including spray-on birth control that marketers say can be simply sprayed onto the forearm as a means of contraception.
"Somewhere, somebody needed that, so necessity really is the mother of invention," he said with a chuckle.