She started off as the kissing expert. This was in the early ’90s. She was selling mainframes for IBM, but she had a prototype for a widget that turned ponytails inside out, and she needed $5,000 for an injection mold that would allow her to mass-produce her invention. So Tomima Edmark turned to kissing. As far as she could tell, a book had never been written about it.
“It’s not that I thought I was good at it,” Edmark says. “I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh. I can become a self-proclaimed expert on this, and no one can challenge me!’ ”
She sold Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know to a Simon & Schuster imprint and used her advance to buy the mold and a gold watch. Two more kissing books followed. As did the Kissing Machine, which smoochers attached to stereo speakers to receive a mild jolt. The mold did better than the kissing. TopsyTail TV commercials were impossible to avoid in the mid-’90s, and Edmark and her partners eventually moved $150 million worth of the widgets before selling off the rights.
Put her in that class of Dallas women entrepreneurs who can’t be stopped, often inventing new products: Bette Nesmith Graham and Liquid Paper in the ’50s, Suzy Batiz and Poo-Pourri today, Mary Kay Ash, Ebby Halliday, Lucy Billingsley, and too many more to mention. A recent study by American Express OPEN found that the growth in the number of women-owned businesses in North Texas and the revenue they generate have both outpaced growth in the state and nation.
“I really think Texas, and Dallas in particular, is very entrepreneurially driven,” Edmark says. “It’s the ‘Go for it, girl’ attitude here, versus the ‘Where’s your husband?’ kind of thing. No one shies away from a woman trying to get ahead around here.”
Now she’s selling underwear and lingerie. Her two sites, HerRoom.com and HisRoom.com, together generate about $50 million in annual sales. Call it the logical progression from kissing.