It was Erin Balogh’s frustration with a pedestal sink that led her to create the Hot Iron Holster.
Balogh, an emergency room nurse and mother of two young girls, was attempting to juggle wielding a hot flat iron and a curling iron with morning duties like flipping pancakes, doing laundry and changing diapers. With a lack of counter space, the hot electric devices would slide into the sink — and she wasn’t ready to get electrocuted.
She looked online but found nothing that could hold her hot hair irons, so she made her own — stitching a silicone oven mitt to a hot pad filled with loose change for weight, and a prototype for the holster was born.
That was 2009. When Balogh launched her company, called Gobalo LLC, in August 2012, she had developed a heat-resistant silicone pocket can hold a variety of hair styling tools while staying in place with a nonstick flap that grips most smooth household surfaces.
Her company, which does business under the name Holster Brands, plans to launch a new holster line early next year.
The company’s revenue was about $85,000 in 2012, and Balogh projects revenue to increase tenfold to $850,000 this year.
New Products for New Uses
Balogh runs the business from her San Marcos home with her husband, Guy Balogh, who quit his job as a project manager in the aerospace industry to devote his time fully to the holsters.
It’s being sold on televised shopping network QVC, at the Container Store, in airline catalog SkyMall and at small retailers. The product — which retails at $29.95 for the standard model and $39.95 for a larger, professional model — will be available next year in big-box stores, Balogh said, though she wouldn’t say with whom she’s forged an agreement.
Erin Balogh holds a design patent and two utility patents, and has applied for a few more. The new products coming out stem from her learning that people were using the holster for noncosmetic purposes — storing remote controls, hot glue guns, blood pressure cuffs and other things.
“The Hot Iron Holster was well-received, but these will have more universal appeal,” Balogh said. “Once we came up with the idea and the concept, we saw the potential to make it in different sizes and ways.”
The product is being bought around the world, and QVC is marketing the product on its channels in England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The majority of sales come from QVC, Balogh said.
Figuring It Out Along the Way
Balogh developed a Hot Iron Holster prototype in 2011, working with San Diego-based Arrk Product Development Group USA. She then showed off the prototype at the International House and Homewares Show in Chicago. She and her husband displayed the holster in the show’s Inventor’s Corner in 5-foot booth.
“We made our own logo, bought a sink in Chicago, threw it in our taxi and brought it over to the show,” Balogh said.
The Baloghs rolled the sink to a presentation area, pitched to a panel of buyers and got a fabulous reaction, she said. Agents from SkyMall, QVC and the Home Shopping Network handed her business cards, and it was clear that the Baloghs had to ramp up for mass production.
The holsters are made in China, through a Weatherford, Tex.-based silicone product manufacturer called Jamak Fabrication Inc.
“Silicone is hard to produce in the U.S. It’s a more pricy item, and at the time we were quoted costs of $26 a piece, so we had to offshore it,” Balogh said.
Despite wife and husband quitting their full-time jobs, the juggling continues. With two daughters and a young son, managing the rapidly expanding homegrown business hasn’t been easy, but they’re not complaining.
“It’s been a fun journey,” Erin Balogh said, “and we’ve figured it out along the way.”