What do you do as a follow-up to creating wildly successful businesses and being portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence in a movie about your life? You write a book telling how you did it (failures and personal challenges included) and encouraging others to take the leap. That’s what Joy Mangano, 61, has done with “Inventing Joy: Dare to Build a Brave & Creative Life” (Simon & Schuster, 270 pp., $26), written with Alex Tresniowski, which goes on sale Tuesday, Nov. 7. The St. James resident, best-known as the inventor of the Miracle Mop and Huggable Hangers, and as a Home Shopping Network star pitchwoman, runs Ingenious Designs in Ronkonkoma and has relaunched her Huntington restaurant, Jema, to excellent reviews. Here’s what Mangano told us about the book; the conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Aren’t you busy enough? Why write a book?
After the movie came out, people said, “Tell me more about your story — how did you do it? How are you so successful?’ And I finally said, “This is my time to give back, and I’m literally going to tell them how I did it.” I wanted it to be a real page-turner. And my goal was for anybody reading it to feel that they just sat down with me on a plane, on a bus, in their living room. It was a conversation from me to them.
Of course movies can’t tell the whole story. What’s the most important thing the movie, “Joy,” missed?
The movie didn’t go into how truly unbelievable things were — how I was dealing with gangsters and the details of that. The low points of my life and the true crescendo into the successes. A book can take you into the depths of that.
You’re such a vivacious person now, but your description of yourself as a kid — skinny, shy, fearful — sounds kind of nerdy.
I was a complete nerd. Everything about me was school, and learning and discovery. If I had been a young girl who loved to dance, people would say, “she’s going to grow up and be a dancer.” But I was blowing things up and building things and no one said, “She’s going to grow up and be an inventor.” And at the same time, I had such empathy for people around me and wanted to make their paths a little easier. And that’s what I think about every day now — designing products to make somebody’s life easier. So I guess I really haven’t changed at all.
You write about your marriage to your ex-husband, Tony Miranne, which had some incredible highs and some shocking lows. How did you find your way to forgiving and even hiring him?
As strong an individual as I am, I have that empathetic side that says you should forgive. With Tony, he was not a good husband, but you can love somebody and they can be part of your life in another way, and I didn’t want to extricate him from our children. He was always a great salesman. I mean, he sold me from day one, right? My father said to me one time, “Well at least if he works for you, you can take your child support out of his check before you pay him.”
What do you hope your readers will take away after they read this book?
High-octane optimism. No matter who you are and where you’re from you have the power to change the world, and I absolutely 100 percent believe that.
How about a primo piece of business advice?
You don’t have to be good to get started. Just get started. If you want to own a boutique, work in one for a couple of hours a week. I believe as children, we don’t care about failing. If we’re building a tower of blocks we don’t care if it falls down. As adults we lose that. Get started.