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It takes a rare combination of creativity and ingenuity to create practical fashion. And inventor-entrepreneur Victoria Tane has it. Creator of the Headbenz® and Jewelbenz® lines of accessories, Tane has sold hundreds of thousands of her comfortable, stylish headbands and jewelry pieces, and continues to add to her product line.
Born on July 13, 1951 in Hartford, Connecticut, Tane grew up in Massachusetts, attending high school in Springfield, where she received an award for her abilities in drawing and writing. She spent a few years exploring studies in the arts at New York University and then studying and travelling in Israel before returning to the U.S., where she completed a Bachelors degree in Special Education at Northeastern University.
Tane had shown interest in art and fashion as a young girl. Her mother encouraged her by sending her to the local sewing club and buying her a sewing machine. Soon she was making her own clothes and showing them at the local fair. She also demonstrated an entrepreneurial streak when she began selling not only her clothes door to door, but also vegetables from her mother's own kitchen. At the age of eight, Tane began making jewelry, and she never stopped.
As an adult Tane taught school for several years while making jewelry as a side business. While leaning over her workspace, she became irritated when her hair would fall into her face. It wasn't quite long enough to pull back into a ponytail, so she improvised, creating a headband out of wire and beads, never imagining that her creation would become an immensely popular, commercial success.
Tane’s Headbenz® design revealed its properties to her over time. First she discovered that she had created an adjustable headband. If it was too loose she squeezed it together. Too tight, she simply pulled it apart. One night she fell asleep with the headband on her head and was surprised and delighted to find when she awoke that it didn't give her a headache like other headbands do. Later she found that the headband could also be worn as a necklace, by bending the ends into a circle.
A few weeks later in July, 1997, Tane set up at the Artbeat festival in Davis Square, Somerville, where she brought jewelry to sell, as well as two dozen Headbenz®. Within an hour she sold them all -- including the one that she was wearing. She knew she needed to patent the design. She did, and before long she was invited to place her product on the home shopping behemoth QVC, which gave her six weeks to produce 3,000 pieces. Her first time on QVC, Headbenz® sold $25,000 retail in seven minutes. By the fifth time Headbenz® sold $100,000 in ten minutes.
Tane appeared on QVC 14 times between 1998-2001, including ten appearances in the U.S. and four appearances in the U.K. Her experience with QVC got her business off the ground quickly, but it also taught her a great deal about manufacturing and quality control. Currently she sells her products on her websites, www.headbenz.com and www.victoriatane.com, and at craft fairs all over New England.
After the success of Headbenz, Tane added to her product line, with a scarf-and-beads combination accessory called Jewelbenz®, in addition to her designer jewelry line. She continues to explore varieties of wire with improved holding properties and seeks inspiration for her designs in art from the past, such as antique brass stampings.