Marguerite Vezina started Straws by M Inc. in 2005. The idea for the business in Florida came from not being able to properly drink a milkshake without holding the straw in glassware and making a mess.
There were worries about lipstick smearing while sipping on a highball glass. She thought that "there should be a straw for drinking cocktails without constant attention to my appearance."
"I thought, there should be proper straws to engage the customer accordingly," Vezina said, who considers herself "a problem-solver."
The company was introduced, making custom colors, diameters and lengths of drinking straws.
Vezina received a U.S. patent in 2012 for a support tube used as internal support for multitiered cakes, composed of raised edges located on an inner surface of a perimeter wall. Bakers generally use wooden dowels as internal support for multilayered cakes to prevent the cakes from collapsing under the weight of the upper tiers, especially during transit of the cakes.
Wooden dowels are difficult to cut to size, having to be cut with a saw rather than scissors and then sanded down to prevent splinters. There are also worries about whether the wood has been chemically treated and possible ingestion. The patented support tube is made of brightly colored material so it is easily identifiable when cutting to prevent ingestion.
The Poly-Dowels cake supporters are manufactured in the United States. It also became a registered community design by the European Union Intellectual Property Office in 2021.
Vezina said she is interested in construction design "to battle the severity of the forces of nature."
She said she wants to continue designing. She hopes the support tube patent would not be limited to just cakes, but "could also be used for development for other purposes such as drive shafts, posts, fences and other structural supports and so forth."
"The design patent will be apparent to those skilled in the art," Vezina said.
Q: What has been the biggest impact or challenge on your career from the coronavirus pandemic?
Vezina: While production was shut down, making the best of it. Took advantage of isolation to create. Being in isolation and in silence, I was able to focus without outside disruptions. Developed a new design, a square extruded profile cake support as an addition to the original Poly-Dowels. [It] decreases [the] amount of plastic weight without taking away the integrity of the part while increasing parts per carton for a better cost price per unit.
Q: What has been the most unexpected thing you learned from the pandemic?
Vezina: Being a workaholic, to take time to stop and smell the roses. Life is so very fragile. There is so much beauty all around us, in people and in nature. A few moments to stop, to become aware, to cherish fully, for a breath of fresh air.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Vezina: Never jeopardize quality; product and service should always be presented with pride.