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The following narrative is famous in the design world: A man named Sam Farber noticed that his wife’s arthritis made it difficult for her to use a vegetable peeler, so he created a version with a much larger, softer handle that was easy to grip.

As it turned out, many other people had similar needs— or just appreciated the comfort of the design. In just a few short years, the company he created—OXO—went from a small maker of kitchen gadgets to a product empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

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