Inventor and Mommy Armor USA CEO Connie Sylvester is one woman you need to know. In this interview, Sylvester highlights the inspiration for her inventions and the story behind why she’s proud to be American made
Talor Whitaker: Have you ever said to yourself, “someone should invent that”? Welcome to Comcast Newsmakers from the MadeinAmerica.com Trade Show and Convention. My next guest has thought that and now has two American made products on the market that could save your life and the life of your child. With more is the inventor herself, CEO at Water Rescue Innovations, Connie Sylvester. What has this experience been like sharing your message so far?
Connie: It has been absolutely amazing. They have welcomed me with open arms and I am absolutely blown away by the positive thoughts and messages I’ve gotten here and appreciation of what we do which is bring jobs back to America.
Talor: what I love about your story is the way you went about it.
Connie: Yes! I was actually at another convention in Indianapolis called FDIC. I woke up and I was getting ready and all of a sudden I heard there was going to be another convention in Indianapolis that’s American made. They’ve welcomed me in with open arms and done a wonderful job of helping me.
Talor: Awesome. Let’s first talk about ARM-LOC. Tell me about that invention and where the idea for it came from.
Connie: Well, a family member came up with the idea over 35 years ago. They didn’t do anything with it. Unfortunately, 6 years ago I lost a friend in the Bering Sea. He had fallen off the boat and he had everything known to man that he was required to have but he couldn’t hold on to the rope and he wasn’t able to get onto the boat. So, I started telling the captain that my family had this idea that you could attach something to their arm and attach it to the cord so that you can’t slip it off. With something like that, I wouldn’t have lost my best friend. I went home after that and I sat there for a year planning how I would start this company.
Talor: That’s the kicker. It takes a specific person to follow through on the idea.
Connie: Exactly! My brother tried for years but people kept telling him no. And then I started trying and when they told me no I just said “watch me.” And that’s what I tell my daughter still.
Talor: I like that because I think there’s a strong generational component to American made. Without that strong family unit that is advocating for empowering their children to go after work ethic and invention, there’s not a strong sense of drive.
Connie: Exactly, and that’s how my family is. My son is the COO and he handles everything so that if anything were to ever happen to me then he could take over the family business.
Talor: How has ARM-LOC kind of changed your life in a way?
Connie: We have an ARM-LOC for water and ice rescue for confined spaces, and we also have a new SWAT version that they can clip to their belt and if they’re in a mass-shooting incident, they can get victims out without using their hands so that they can still protect themselves. So we have a first and second generation. My manufacturing capable systems in the Appalachian Mountains make high quality, very compliant materials and the military can just come in a purchase it.
Talor: I know you have a new product as well. Can you tell me about Mommy Armor USA?
Connie: Thank god for capable aerial systems because they delivered my first prototype. This invention is also obviously from tragedy. Last year, I dropped my son off at high school and then I got a text message that there was a school shooting. It wasn’t at his high school, but I’m sure dozens of other mothers dropped their kids off at school that day for the last time–and I needed to do something about it. So, I came up with this idea that will save lives. I heard about bullet proof backpacks, so I told my son that I was going to bullet proof his backpack. He said that it didn’t matter because they have to leave their backpacks in their locker. I said, “what do you have?” and they both said they had to have their binders and agendas–so I created binders that act as shields from bullets. You can take it from kindergarten, to college, to the boardroom.
Talor: What’s your hope for this invention?
Connie: Mommy Armor USA is going to be a brand and I am going to take advice form all of the people that want to see this happening.
Talor: And why American Made?
Connie: It goes back to my childhood. So, I’m feisty and I worked at Best Buy when I was 16. An older man came in and said “I’d like to buy an American made microwave.” I said, “I’m sorry sir, that does not exist.” he proceeded to yell at me and blame me for it. And I just sat there and took it–then I said to him, “with all due respect sir, whose generation’s fault is that? your generation took things to China.” I know how important it is to buy American. I told him, “if I ever start a company, it will be 100 percent American made.”
Talor: Boom. Mic drop right there. And here you are 30 years later with two products.