Heads Full of Lightning
A Look at Some Bright Ideas Lit by Sun Valley’s Young People
Photography: Mark Oliver
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Over its history, this Valley has spawned some notable art, literature and theatre and, not to forget, Olympic athletes of all kinds from equine to special needs. All of us have had an idea for making our lives easier, but it takes a true entrepreneur to make it real. There’s a whole bunch of people here quietly tinkering in kitchens, garages and on computers all around us hatching new inventions every day. We’ll introduce you to some of these unsung dreamers.
Wheeling into the Light
A few years ago, Jamey Allsop and her father, Jim, set out to build a better mousetrap, so to speak, not by reinventing the wheel, but rather by reinventing the wheelbarrow. The idea was deceptively simple and relied on the use of one of technology’s oldest ergonomic tools: the lever. Instead of struggling to lift, say, heavy river rocks into the barrow’s belly to later dispose of, you simply roll them onto a flat canvas liner, which you lift up from the ground up using two handles that fork the barrow’s tire for easy carting.
The success of the WheelEasy, patented by Allsop (now known as inventors and investors of new consumer product technologies) allowed the idea of Allsop to reinvent a part of itself, specifically as Allsop Home & Garden.
Headed by Jamey Allsop and her dad, Allsop Home & Garden, independent of its parent company, has expanded the product lines to include garden lights and lanterns to illuminate a hard day’s work in the yard at night.
Allsop says her father thought cracked blown glass could not only provide ambient light to a garden or an outdoor sculpture, but would do so in a variety of aesthetically-pleasing patterns. The lights and lanterns are “green,” too, collecting and storing solar power during the day. You can now find them in gardening stores across the country including local dealers such as Webb and Moss.
While her business now enjoys success, Allsop says it wasn’t easy.
“When you start a small business, resources are always limited,” Allsop says. “When you start up, you’re usually starting with nothing.”
Born in Bellingham, WA., she attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, and earned her degree in Asian Studies (she speaks Mandarin Chinese). Then she traveled east to Ketchum and worked for a couple of years as a dealer services representative at Smith Optics before heading back home and opening her garden accessory business in 2002.
Within a couple of years though, she followed her heart (and her future husband, Adam Greene, who was offered and took a job at Scott USA) back to Ketchum, where she established new headquarters.
Allsop now runs all the design, research and development for her company in Ketchum, with manufacturing in China (where her linguistic skills come in handy). Working from a remote location like Ketchum works, she says, as long she’s got an Internet connection and surrounds herself with talent.
If anything, she says, the talent pool and wealth of ideas here may be small, but it’s rich. Many people, she says, are overqualified for what they do, but are happy doing it because the living in the Valley is its own reward.
She considers herself lucky, but says it’s going to take leadership and an effort to bring in and support business in this community to bring and keep young talent in the Valley.
“It’s a wonderful place to live, and if you’re satisfied with your work, I don’t see why anyone would ever want to leave. I do feel that it has become much more difficult to find work that really affords a long-term lifestyle in Ketchum,” she says. “You’re never going to get young people to stay if they can’t make a living.” After all, she’s worn those shoes, too, and says her success story is an exception to the usual narrative of people trying to make it in the Valley before moving on to make it somewhere else. >>>