Barbara Kavovit — better known as Barbara K — has turned what began as a niche home-improvement business into a mini-empire that now includes a line of fashionable, female-friendly tools available through retailers like Target, two best-selling books and, most recently, an online show.
One day I heard my mom talking to some of her friends about how hard it was to get things done around the house without a man around, like hanging picture, fixing a leaky faucet, and tightening a doorknob. That’s when a lightbulb went on for me. “I realized that women are tired of having to rely on men to help with home improvements. I thought women might like to deal with another woman instead.
I went to a local printer to have some business cards and fliers made up. Then I went to the mall and started talking to women about how I had just started a home-improvement business and asked whether there was anything I could help them with.
“After I lined up a job, like putting up Sheetrock, I would go to the phonebook, find the contractors that could do the work, and check out their references. I would then drive the contractor to the job and talk with the customer as he did the work. I made my money by charging the homeowner more than the contractor was charging me. My first year, I made $25,000.
Then, after watching an episode of ‘Sex and the City’ where Samantha has trouble hanging her curtains, I came up with the idea to create the perfect tool kit for women.
“I wanted my tool kit to look like the iMac — slim and stylish — and it would have all the tools and parts needed to fix the 10 most common home-repair problems. I spent $8,000 on a prototype and partnered with a manufacturer in Taiwan to make the tools. The big break came when we landed Bloomingdale’s as our first customer. I even got them to do a window display for it. Everything kind of took off after that.
Photo by Yahoo.