A Timeline of Main Line Innovation

From chewing gum to clothing lines, local residents are making waves from coast to coast.


Samuel Leeds Allen, a graduate of the Westtown School in West Chester, patents the Flexible Flyer, the first steerable snow sled. It was one of hundreds of inventions Allen came up with in his lifetime.


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After seeing a torsion spring fall off a table and wiggle when it landed, Bryn Mawr’s Richard James is inspired to create the Slinky. The toy becomes a regional sensation before going national. The Navy shipyard engineer’s wife runs the company until 1998.


Havertown’s Philadelphia Chewing Gum Company begins production on a string of successful candy products, including Swell Bubble Gum. The factory closes in 2003 after it’s acquired by Concord Confections.


1984   Marlyn Schiff Jewelry officially launches. The line finds its way to high-end
   retailers like Neiman Marcus. Making her home in Bryn Mawr, Schiff has a local
                                    showroom in Ardmore.

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         Gladwyne’s Todd Carmichael and business partner Jean Philippe Iberti debut
         the renowned La Colombe coffee brand. Its cafés can now be found as far
                                         away as Seoul, South Korea.



Wei Brian’s headquarters for her multimillion-dollar herbal skincare business, Wei East, opens in her Newtown Square home. The luxury skincare line is a consistent top-seller on the Home Shopping Network, and she recently partnered with high-end beauty retailer Space.NK.apothecary to carry a signature line.

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2005     Wynnewood pediatrician Dr. Ayala Laufer dives into the drink industry with
     Ayala’s Herbal Water, a line of herb-infused H20 in flavors like Lavender
                                          Mist and Lemon Verbena Geranium.

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Wayne hat designer Jen McGowan tries her hand at custom headwear for local events like Radnor Hunt and the Devon Horse Show, and is quickly flooded with requests. These days, she also outfits locals headed to England for weddings that rival William and Kate’s.



Wendell August opens a retail hub in Exton, though the company itself was founded decades before in 1923. America’s oldest and largest forge, it’s been producing hand-wrought ornamental metalware and aluminum giftware for generations. The Exton location has an in-house artisan who makes signature pieces exclusively for the shop.



Penn Valley’s Marissa Small launches her handcrafted jewelry line, Mina Danielle. Small has managed to get her necklaces and bracelets into the hands of celebs like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Kyle Richards, who raved about the jewelry on Twitter.

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