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Cool Company of the Day: Turn Your Head

To coin a phrase, everything old is cool again, and it took a woodworker who thought just like that to come up with our cool company of the day.

Tom Bashara started his Colorado Springs-based e-tail business, Turn Your Head, in 2004 after thinking up a unique way to preserve his little girls’ faces as keepsakes.

He’s a woodworker and an artist, so Tom sees things differently than most of us. As a longtime fan of op-art, he knew that mind-blowing artists like Salvador Dali and especially M.C. Escher sometimes used "negative space" – here’s one of the cool things about this – as the art itself. What they created is something that isn’t there, and can only be seen by looking at what’s on either side of it.

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Imagine that you and another, identical you, face each other in front of a white wall, a few inches apart. The white space between your faces is now an "object" with your identical profile, right and left, as its shape.

Tom decided to fill that space with something solid. He made a template of his daughter’s profile, put a chunk of wood in his lathe, and turned a sort of pillar shaped exactly like his baby’s face seen from the side. Both he and his wife, Lorie, knew he’d created an entirely unique and truly cool family keepsake destined to be a treasured heirloom.

Now there are two daughters, and after years of noodging, they and Mom convinced Dad that this was cool enough to offer for sale. Lori named it the Pirolette. Tom puts it like this: "The Pirolette isn’t a photograph or memory. It’s a solid artifact of a space we forget to look at. My daughters were my inspiration and now I’d like to share that with you."

He put up an e-comm site, set prices, trusted his gut and friends’ reactions to gauge the market for his product, and went into business for himself.

Cool creativity, cool one-of-a-kind product, cool new twist on an old idea, cool company. As usual, we had to share.

About the Author: Rich Sloan

Rich Sloan is chief startupologist and co-founder of StartupNation and host of StartupNation podcasts. He is also co-author of the acclaimed how-to book, StartupNation: America's Leading Entrepreneurial Experts Reveal the Secrets to Building a Blockbuster Business. Rich encourages you to [...]

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