Although she really didn’t want to be one, by 1951 she was working as an executive secretary for the chairman of the board of Texas Bank. At that time, electric typewriters were just entering the market. Secretaries often made mistakes that they found difficult to correct, mostly due to the carbon-based ink.
As a part-time artist, Nesmith knew that artists simply painted over their mistakes with more paint. She wondered if maybe the same technique could be applied to cover mistakes made in typewritten ink.
Using her kitchen blender, she mixed up some tempera water-based paint, tinting it to match her company’s stationery. She took some samples to her office along with a watercolor brush. Whenever she made a mistake on paper, she simply painted over it and voila the typing error was fixed!
It wasn’t long before other secretaries at her company found out about her ingenious solution for correcting typing errors. After they began asking her to let them use some of the fluid, she began making up bottles to which she affixed labels that read “Mistake Out.”
Nesmith soon realized that the product was popular enough to form a business. She started the Mistake Out Company in 1956 in her home, where she mixed the fluid in her kitchen and employed her son and his friends to fill bottles for customers.
Nesmith subsequently patented the product and renamed it the familiar “Liquid Paper.” The rest, as they say, is history. In 1979, she sold her company to the Gillette Corporation for $47.5 million.