Ania Gifford came to the United States from Warsaw, Poland, in 1983 with a limited English vocabulary, a background in culinary arts and a lot of hope. Gifford always was working to claim her piece of the American dream.
“I was only 19-years-old when I came over, and I spoke little English, so when I immigrated I found it hard to jump into my profession,” Gifford said. “I did whatever an immigrant had to do to make things happen.”
From waitressing to banking to opening her own cleaning service, which she then sold to open a Polish deli, which she then closed and went back to banking, the Woodstock resident forged her way through America’s business world looking for her golden opportunity.
How appropriate her opportunity came while in a place near and dear to her heart – the kitchen.
As a nod to her background, she spent many hours tediously peeling hard-boiled eggs, a Polish meal staple.
“When it comes to my Polish background, it’s all about hard-boiled eggs,” Gifford said.
“Sometimes the peeling worked and sometimes it didn’t, with half of the egg whites coming out. I just kept thinking why are there so many eggs and why can’t I peel them? It bothered me for days, and then the light bulb went off.”
After two years, three engineers, seven prototypes and a lot of guinea pigging and brainstorming with her husband, Randy, the Egg Stripper was born.
With the ability to peel five eggs in 10 seconds with minimal clean up, the Egg Stripper sold out of its initial 3,000 units in 8 minutes on the Home Shopping Network’s “American Dreams” on Oct. 30.
It was an entrepreneurial triumph that almost didn’t happen when Gifford had some doubts about her first appearance on national television.
“A few hours before the show, I sort of broke down and didn’t think I would be able to do it,” Gifford said. “My husband went downstairs and called my daughter. He told her I was a basket case and needed some support. My daughter was so strong for me in that moment.”
Gifford’s daughter, Sylvia Baldwin, called her mother to give her a pep talk right out of the book Gifford had been instilling in her daughter her whole life.
“I told her to just keep doing what you’ve been doing your whole life, just be you,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin attributes her mother’s determined spirit to her being born in Poland and growing up in a communist country. Baldwin said her mother always worked hard to make a better life for her family. It was family first, always go for your dreams, nothing is out of sight and stay humble.
Baldwin advised Gifford that should she freeze during the show, to pretend she was talking to the three of us, meaning Baldwin, Gifford’s 16-month-old grandson Parker and Baldwin’s husband David. Gifford pulled herself together and went on to a very successful show.
“The 12 minutes went by so fast,” Gifford said. “Three minutes into the show, I felt so comfortable. All of my nerves went away, and I was just having fun.”
Under Gifford's Grania brand, the Egg Stripper sold on the show for $19.99 plus shipping and is available for pre-order at www.eggstripper.com. An additional 7,000 units will be available to buy during another HSN appearance scheduled for early 2018. The price on those additional units has yet to be determined.
Gifford has plans to expand her Grania brand further to offer consumers “simple, attractive products that complement a home and help to make life a little easier.”
Gifford said she has new ideas and prototypes already in the works. “I want to have a line of products that just make life easier,” Gifford said. “I’m always thinking of new ideas. More to come.”