RESUME OF FAILURES
Sally has optimistically set out to try pretty much try everything she can and has failed at most. She was a sprinter in high school and always came third. She was a singer too – always the understudy. Drama productions always cast her as the boy because she was tall, although not tall enough to achieve results in hurdles or high jump. Sally, in fact, turned out to be on the short side, she was just tall when it didn’t help. She didn’t win any scholarships, she wasn’t voted Perfect and her mother has always wished she would do better. School pretty much set the scene as Sally continued to hurl herself with enthusiasm at every learning cliff no matter how high. Sally filmed several renovation show pilots but was never cast, she auditioned for two bands and many professional musicals but was never called back. She continues to this day….
Having won several awards for her Rainwater HOG tank, had her Nest high chair acquired by the Powerhouse Museum and working as a judge on ABC TVs New Inventors with a string of lucrative speaking and MC gigs, Sally turned her back on what was finally a lucrative career and left Australia to set up business in the USA right on the brink of recession. She sold the family home to finance the family staying in the USA first on visas then on a green card and that exercise sent the family broke. Embracing her “doomed to fail” small fish in big pond future, Sally proceeded to outline an innovation framework designed to enhance and then directly challenge conventional design thinking right when said design thinking was being touted as the answer to business today. Sally continues to challenge empathy-based reactive design thinking with her own innovation framework despite the household names of IDEO, D School et al. A frugal innovator, Sally does not spend money on PR, advertising, Google ad words, professional web services or any of the aids that might help her spread the word on Adventurous Thinking. She has still not finished writing the book and she has again run out of business cards.
Sally is still unable to summarize what she does in a sentence.
Previous Failed Businesses
2012 Founded Adventurous Thinking Group to solidify her teaching around consistently innovative thinking. Spends no money on spreading the word, only blogs sporadically, regularly runs half a month late on her monthly newsletter and has made no meaningful progress on the book all her students say they want. Has not found an agent either.
2010 Designed award-winning products for a very short-lived company she co-founded, Tea Tree Solutions, making organic tea tree based products for dogs. Who knew the US pet industry had been poisoned by one tea tree article that spread Chinese-whisper-like around the industry and suggested that tea tree killed pets???!. With the FDA classifying tea tree as poisonous the fact that Sally and her partner did not do their research meant the business went down in flames very quickly.
2005 Founder of Rainwater HOG Pty Ltd/LLC to manufacture and distribute the modular rainwater tank invented by Sally. Despite the failure of her last partnership Sally again partnered with an accountant, and again it was a poor business decision. Sally licensed HOG first to a company that shelved it to launch a competing product. Despite her gut feeling Sally was convinced by a patent attorney, not to patent the through hole structure of HOG that she invented – and now the industry uses this design as its standard worldwide. Despite her bad experience with plastics in China Sally used an agent to make HOG in China and again, the materials were compromised and the tool was left in China. Sally brought the HOG to the USA in 2008 and again she failed to protect the IP of the design, which was promptly ripped off. Instead of following up the traction of HOG winning multiple awards Sally became bored and continued to work in other industries including TV invention judging and car judging. She continues to run HOG on the side and as a result, the company has moved sluggishly, kept alive by a strong fan base NOT by Sally’s effort which is minimal and entirely reactionary.
2003 Co-Founder and Creative Director of Bug Design Pty Ltd to manufacture and distribute a range of baby furniture designed by Sally and spearheaded by the Nest Highchair. Sally invented a modern high chair that was extremely expensive to make and then proceeded to produce it by hand. She partnered with an accountant who helped make the chair but did not spend equal time and effort on the financial proposition for the company. The product did not flat pack and was almost impossible to insure since it classed as a “one-legged chair”. Sally and her business partner turned down a possibly lucrative licensing offer with a large Italian company and instead licensed with a small operator who ended up losing interest. When the licensee moved production to China 2000 units of the Nest high chair were made in a sick apricot color instead of white, and shipped to the USA where they triggered the alarm at possible materials substitution. Sally did not pursue the license and it appears they left the Nest tool in China where apparently Nest is still made today and sold without permission.
1996 Sally Dominguez Architecture. A private practice where Sally took on too many projects and continually forgot to take photos when done so there is little evidence except a few published pieces of this substantial body of work. Sally switched to her married name thus vanishing to most of her school and university classmates. Sally had five houses in various phases of construction when she gave birth to her first child and spent the next 7 months breastfeeding on building sites and letting vital details slip. In one memorable incident during a shop fit out the building began to collapse Sally was literally left holding the last pole in place as brickwork cracked in real time and the engineer and builder evacuated. Lesson: check the builder’s credentials before allowing him to make structural openings in brickwork. Sally did not keep a logbook and was thus unable to complete her Registration as Architect.
Awards I didn’t Win
2017 Australia Day Individual Innovators Award
2017 Australia Day Order of Australia for services to Education & Innovation
Any Businesswoman of the year award but particularly the Verve Cliquot & Telstra awards.
Design Mark Standards Australia Award for Rainwater HOG 2006
Products that Failed
TT for Dogs tea tree based dog-grooming products. People loved the smell but the industry was highly suspicious of tea tree oil even though Australians love it. Lesson: know your cultural differences and don’t try and tell an entire country they are wrong.
OG Toy Sphere A clear sphere on a tulip base for holding toys looked great but was prohibitively expensive to make and ship.
F Stool A wonder of spun stainless steel based on the Eames A, B, and C stools, when Athol the master steel spinner died there was nobody with the skill to spin the parts.
SPOT Stool created for Boost Juice in Australia. The Spot looked great but the brief required a chair only comfortable for a few minutes. Fulfilling the brief created an uncomfortable chair – who wants that?!
Biggest Mistakes Made
Being an employer. I am way too unreasonable in my expectations and I work much faster – at least on design and architectural work than other people. I am constantly frustrated that people can’t keep up and so – I fire them. It’s not good.
Losing track of Nest high chair. People around the world know and love that design and I don’t even know where the tools are now. I think they are in Sydney…..there is a solid second-hand market of people trying to buy Nest. I should have nurtured it more and kept it going. Or found someone who would.
Losing interest in the Rainwater HOG tank. People love this design and I just don’t support it with promotion, fast technical response or anything really. I need to find someone again who can nurture the business instead of trashing it.
Leaving Australia in 2008. Professionally at least it was career suicide. Now I’m rebuilding based on the stuff I’m doing in the USA and my family love their life here but it’s been really hard and super stressful and definitely the kids, in particular, have missed out on stuff they would have had – trips, education opportunities etc – if we had stayed in Sydney.
Not focusing on car journalism. Some of my best experiences have been through my work judging and writing about cars. Instead of pursuing that career I stopped pitching ideas because the misogyny on the editor/journalist side pissed me off. I should have ignored that and pushed on instead of finding other work.
Not recording my design work properly. Every now and then I find pics or sketches and it’s always a bit of a surprise. I forget how much I’ve done.
This has been great!!!! I could kick myself.