Not The Best Thing She Created, But Close

In 1951, Dallas divorcee Bette Nesmith Graham put aside her dreams of becoming an artist and found work as a typist in order to support her son. Frustrated by frequent typos, Bette sought a more efficient alternative to re-typing text. Recalling that artists often painted over their mistakes with white paint on canvas, she wondered whether the same could be applied to typewriting. So Bette blended tempera waterbased paint with coloring to match her stationary and brought a bottle to work the next day. Sure enough, her boss never noticed the mistakes. The other secretaries in the office began to take notice, however, and decided the day had come that they had retyped their last memo. To meet the demand, Bette began bottling the substance at home in her kitchen, labeling the bottles with the tentative name "Mistake Out" and selling them to her colleagues. As the demand increased, Bette enlisted the help of her son and his friends to mix and bottle the product.

By 1967, Bette was devoting all of her time to the production of "Mistake Out" and after studying marketing and promotion had grown her brainchild into a million dollar business. She changed the name of the product to "Liquid Paper" and moved into her own plant and corporate headquarters, where she produced and sold one million bottles in 1968. In the years to come, Bette would establish an international headquarters in Dallas with a production line that produced 500 bottles a minute and sold 25 million bottles a year.

Though Bette sold her corporation for a whopping $47.5 million just before she died, she had always remained the humble single mother who had started her own business with the help of her young son. In her life, she set up two foundations to help woman find ways to follow in her entrepreneurial footsteps. Meanwhile, her son Michael gave up the liquid paper bottling racket and learned to the play the guitar.

You might remember him as Michael Nesmith from The Monkees.

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