Inspiration meets aspiration in products designed, made or masterminded in Baton Rouge

In the cartoons, when a character has a great idea, a little lightbulb turns on above his head. For Joe McKearn, reality wasn’t too far from fiction.

McKearn was visiting a friend when he spotted a lamp unlike any he had ever seen. Ding! He knew instantly that he wanted to help bring designs like this to a broader audience. Today, McKearn is the leader of two Baton Rouge-based lighting companies, and his lamps lend a south Louisianastyle glow to homes around the world.

It may not always have happened quite so literally, but the local creators of other unique products all had their own “lightbulb moments.” Mike Gennaro was using salvaged wood in the renovation of a house when he felt a calling to make one-of-a-kind furniture. Ding! Zoe Ganch unwrapped a handmade present from her friend and believed others would love it, too. Ding! Hansel Harlan just wanted to find a healthy food for his allergy-suffering Jack Russell terrier. Ding!

Though their fields of interest may be different, these and the other creatives featured in the following pages all paid attention when their own interior lightbulbs turned on. Instead of waiting for the perfect time or being intimidated by the unknown, they trusted their instincts and took a leap. As a reward, each has found a following of loyal customers both here in the Baton Rouge area and farther from home.

Bright ideas? We all have them from time to time. Click on the pictures below to see what happens when you turn a great idea into your own success story.