Interview: Russie Jones, Rely A Light “Blackouts Turn Me On”

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When herĀ father got up during a power outage, got tangled in his oxygen tubing and fell, Russie Jones had the idea for Rely-A-Light, an automatic, emergency light that would also charge your phone with and without AC power.

Rely A Light was born at the kitchen table that week. We have since created a new line of shatter resistant children’s emergency lights that have a remote control color changing nightlight along with the emergency light and the USB charging port. Our lights run in emergency mode for 16 hours.

Product:

Decorative emergency lighting that works automatically when a power outage occurs with no human interaction! 22 high power emergency LEDs provide light equivalent to a 40 watt light bulb allowing for safe mobility during a power outage.

The US Fire and Safety Administration reports that 1 in 3 FATAL home fires are a direct result of candles being used for light in the absence of power!

Rely-A-Light is safe and economical because you use it every day as a table lamp and to charge your phone. Then when a power outage occurs it is ready when you need it most. Stay safe and connected during times of emergency.

Target Audience + How to Reach them:

Moms, caregivers, seniors, anyone that would be adversely affected by a power outage. We are not gender specific, age specific or geographic specific!

No one likes to be plunged into sudden darkness, and there is no dark like the black void of a power outage.

Kids are frightened, parents are struggling to get everyone to safety and a fall can be devastating to the elderly.

Greatest Success:

Our greatest success to date is the numerous calls we get from customers telling us their stories about how our product has helped them. With a less than 1% return rate and sales in excess of $300,000 last year, we are thrilled!

Biggest Challenge:

To get the word out about our product and let people know there is a safe, reliable solution unlike dangerous candles, the elusive flashlight and expensive generators.

Overcoming the Challenge:

We have been fortunate in that people want to talk about our solution to what is a nationwide, even global problem. We utilize blogs, social media and word of mouth (our personal favorite) to share our solution with others.

When you imagine success, what does it look like?
We are currently working with Bed, Bath & Beyond, Kohls, HSN, TSC in Canada, Solutions, and many more. Qe have our lamos in several Ronald McDonald Houses. We recently partnered with Bright Horizons Childrens Foundation. I think we are headed in the right direction.

However true success is the lives we save, the extra months that a senior can maintain their independence because they didn’t fall in their home in the dark and the children that are no longer terrified of power outages. The true measure of success is in the customer calls we receive.

What steps are you taking to achieve your goals?

We are working as hard as we can to raise awareness that there is an attractive and efficient economical solution to being plunged into darkness and losing connectivity to family and friends during a power lost event.

What PR + Marketing activities have you done and what were the results?

We take and search out every opportunity we can find to talk about our product. Finding groups that already have your target consumer as their captive audience is a perfect situation (i.e. mom bloggers, AARP, emergency preparedness organizations ).

As an entrepreneur, how do you decide what to do yourself and what to hire someone to do?

I do as much as possible. I also go to the professors at the local college to present possible class projects to instructors that I can use in my business, a win-win!

How do you manage family and business?

I have 4 children and 4 grandchildren, a loving husband and a wonderful extended family. I am a cancer patient and I have Parkinson’s Disease so my family is super supportive of my efforts. My mother-in-law, 72 years young, came up with our tag line, “Blackouts turn me on!”, my youngest son is 25 and handles all our vendor relations, my oldest grandchildren, 10 and 11, are my best marketers!

We involve the family so that everyone is a part and it is a bond that brings us together, not a barrier.

What advice do you have to fellow mom entrepreneurs?

Russie Coy Jones, Founder, rely-a-light

What have you learned about yourself being an entrepreneur?

I am stronger than I could have ever believed. I sometimes wish this journey would have happened when I was younger but God has a plan. Instead of curling up and letting disease take me over, I have more fight in me because I now know what I am capable of.

If you could wave a magic wand and be given anything to help your business right now, what would it be?

To be able to let the world know about our product. So many people live with power outages as a part of their daily lives, I would like to be able to change the way they deal with the darkness and bring more people into the light.

What is your favorite go-to resource, tool, book, app and why?

The book, “The Obstacle is the Path” by Ryan Holiday and the many mentors I have met along my journey.

What is your favorite indulgence?

Old movies (1920’s and 30’s).

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