Finalist Q&A: Charmed Life Products LLC

The second Q&A presents a small company, which is markedly different from the first. This Idea Cafe finalist produces an original grilling accessory that they say is revolutionizing the American cook-out.

We talk to Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products LLC.


Idea Cafe: How did you come up with the idea for your business, and what were your influences and sources of motivation?

Leslie Haywood: In April of 2006 my husband was grilling some fantastic boneless chicken breasts for my friends and I. The flavor of the evening was Jerk, which we all love. Some people happen to like their chicken "jerkier" than others. IE, more rub equals more spice and heat. Some of us like ours on the milder side. Once all the chicken came off the grill, arranged on a serving plate, brought upstairs and served to our guests, my husband couldn't tell which chicken was spicy. Wouldn't you know it... me being a "mild" person; I bit right into the hottest one of all! He said "I wish there was a way to tell which chicken was which" and immediately I knew we had something. This was the light bulb moment and that very night I started sketching prototypes. As far as my motivation for actually trying to bring a crazy idea to market, it was fear. Now for most people, fear is an emotion that STOPS people from pursuing their passion. Well in my case, the fear of seeing MY idea, MY product, on store shelves two years down the road, knowing that I came up with it first but never acted upon it, was so much stronger then the fear of failure that I had to do it. I didn't have a choice. I knew that I couldn't live with the regret if I didn't give it a shot. To me, failure (should that have been the outcome) was a much more palatable outcome.

What do you consider to be a unique feature of your business?

Image source:

There is currently no product on the market like Grill CharmsTM. There is a similar product which has been around for decades. It is called a "Meat Marker". There are countless styles and designs. It is a stake with a large end that sticks out of beef which labels the meat "Well Done", "Medium Well", "Medium", "Medium Rare", and "Rare". It is normally made of stainless steel or the cheaper versions are plastic. You find them most frequently at chain steak house restaurants to help the servers know which plate / steak is cooked to which "doneness". It is made to be used only on beef, and is put in the meat only after it has been cooked.

Grill CharmsTM are very different as they can be used for most grilled foods and is used before, during and after the cooking process. They personalize or mark the food PRIOR to cooking and can be used with many methods of preparation including grilling, blackening, oven broiling, pan frying, baking etc...

What are your thoughts on the future of small businesses in a slowing economy and their importance to the vitality of the local community?

As the eternal optimist I must try to find the silver lining. Here it is....for those of us with new little companies, these are GREAT times to build our brand and company. Here we are, just starting out and we are faced with the worst economic times most of us have ever seen or at least remember. This forces us to be lean and mean from the beginning. We are watching every penny and not taking anything for granted. When the economy DOES turn around, just imagine the rewards we will reap!! I feel sorry for the people who built their companies years ago during the economic hay-day of years past. They thought THAT was the "norm" and now they are folding like a house of cards. Those of us that accept THIS as the new status quo and survive it, will be in for many pleasant surprises when the cycle of peaks and valleys turns from valley to peak again. (And it will)

Why should the Idea Cafe regulars vote for you?
I hope that Idea Cafe Regulars can identify and possibly be inspired by what I have done. I'm just an average person with an average idea who simply didn't give up, even when the going got tough. (There is little bit more of the back story regarding the first year of my company, and should you be interested in that part of the story, you can go to: ) If I can do this crazy thing, anyone can!


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for preventing automated spam submissions.