11/08/2014 11:10 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

The Dad Who Invented Loom Bands


The man who invented loom bands lives in a modest family home and drives a 12-year-old car – despite making £45 million from the biggest playground craze of all time.

Cheong-Choon Ng, 45, gambled his £5,800 life savings to launch Rainbow Looms, despite the concerns of his wife - who now drives a BMW since her husband's invention began raking in over £200,000 a month.

The former Nissan crash-test engineer lives in a £230,000 house in Detroit, US, with his wife Fen Chan and daughters, aged 16 and 13.

But despite his wealth, Cheong said: "It's a nice house, why should we move? We're not over-the-top people. Maybe when I retire I'll buy a boat and go fishing."

As we all know, loom bands are small, colourful rubber bands that can be linked together on a plastic Rainbow Loom.

Children use the looms, or their own fingers, to weave coloured bands into items such as bracelets, necklaces and charms.

Malaysian-born Cheong – who describes himself as 'not the smartest guy' - invented the Rainbow Loom just three years ago after watching his daughters, Theresa and Michelle, weaving elastic bands over their fingers to make bracelets.

Cheong tried doing it himself but his own fingers were too big, so he built himself a 'loom' - a technology known to the clothing trade since at least the 15th Century - using pins and a wooden slab.

His daughters were impressed with the more intricate patterns this allowed. "They were like, that's so cool, let's make more'," Cheong told the Times. "It became very popular in our neighbourhood."

The dad then developed a plastic version and used his daughters' college funds to set up a business manufacturing them in China.

He got a toy shop to stock his product and, after it sold out within a few hours, other stores took an interest.

It spread from there and looms and bands can now be seen in schools and homes around the world.

Last year, eight million kits and 28 million packs of rubber bands were sold in 29 countries. Cheong believes that the UK is one of the hottest markets for loom bands, where they have become a playground staple. Prince William is said to have amassed hundreds on his visits to schools.

Cheong said: "The good thing is now we definitely have the money for the girls' education."

Loom bands's famous fans include Prince William, The Duchess of Cambridge and Harry Styles.

As well as being used to make jewellery, they have also stretched to the world of fashion, with fans creating everything from sandals to swimwear and, most famously, a dress made from 20,000 bands, which sold for a staggering £170,100 on eBay last week - despite a starting price of £50.

How to Use Rainbow Looms