The bobby pin and the pink hair curler were invented by an Omaha company, and for more than 40 years, they were manufactured at North 16th and Cuming Street. Declared to be “the world’s largest manufacturer of hair products,” this is a history of the Tip Top Products Company.
Commerce High School graduate Carl Renstrom (1902-1981) founded the Tip Top Products Company and started selling solder in a tube. Starting the company by making and packaging the solder in his basement, Renstrom became successful selling it directly to stores and through mail-in orders.
Tip Top Products Company had two different factories in the North Downtown neighborhood. Their original location was a two-story brick building constructed in the 1890s at 1508 Burt Street. The company moved in around 1929. Their second location was a five-story factory at 1515 Cuming Street, which they moved into in 1935. Originally built as the Omaha Ford Model A plant, that company closed this factory when the building’s layout prohibited upgrades to the manufacturing process. Tip Top took it over and made millions of dollars in the process.
In 1936, the Tip Top Products company patented a design for a simple metal hair curler he called the Tip Top Easy Curler, and after they got the first United States patent for the device, they sold extremely well. The company kept innovating, and by 1964 Tip Top Products had 24 patents.
That year, the Tip-Top Products Company was producing more than 600 products when it was sold to a Minnesota company for $25,000,000. The new owners used the name Faberge, and also had another building across the street at 1524 Cuming Street for their “Division Faberge,” which operated there until 1981. Moving to a single-story building at 1841 South 54th Street, the company operated a large plant there for a decade. Although Faberge is long gone from Omaha, that building is still located there today.
With the entire presence of the Tip Top Products Company gone from Omaha today, there is no indication the company ever existed in the city except for the apartments located in their former factory.