Angie Cella’s path to becoming a millionaire toy inventor started with a prayer.
Cella shared the ups and downs of entrepreneurship with Rinker School of Business students, faculty and staff on Thursday, when she spoke about her recently-released book BLINGER: An Entrepreneur’s Faith-Based Journey.
Cella already had a successful career when she watched Soul Surfer, a movie about Christian surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack. At the end of the movie, Hamilton shared that two weeks before the life-changing attack, she asked God to use her to fulfill His purposes. Inspired, Cella prayed the same prayer.
Two weeks later, the idea for Blinger came to her in a dream. It took three more years, thousands of dollars and many risks and failures for Cella to bring the product to market and realize a profit.
“I never thought about quitting,” Cella said. “I was compelled. Nothing was going to stop me from finishing it.”
Blinger is now carried by major retailers. It has sold more than $22 million wholesale and $50 million retail. In 2020, Cella received the Inventor of the Year Wonder Woman Award from Women in Toys.
Her success was anything but guaranteed. She hired four firms who failed to deliver a prototype for her product. A fifth mechanical engineer finished the job, but Cella didn’t have the cash in hand to pay him when she hired him for the job — and she was transparent with him. She urged students to always do what’s right, even if they pay a price.
“Your integrity is everything, and if someone won’t work with you because you’ve been honest, that’s OK,” Cella said.
At one point, Cella, a single mom to four children, sold her dream home and moved the family into a townhouse to finance Blinger. First, she called her kids together for a huddle in the kitchen. Her eldest piped up “You’ve got to do it, Mom.”
Cella is passionate about sharing her faith and is navigating the tricky bounds of being a Christian business owner. She views Blinger and the book as a platform to share what God has done in her life. She is developing Bijou, a women’s version of Blinger, and looks forward to focusing on being a mom after that, she said.
She issued this encouragement to students as they find their way in the world: “Go out there and be your best. No one has authority over who you are or how successful you’re going to be except for God.”
Photo: Blinger inventor and author Angie Cella speaks to Rinker School of Business students and faculty on Thursday, Oct. 14 in the Weyenberg Center. Her path to becoming an entrepreneur required perseverance.