Jake Chessum
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December 16, 2015 12:00 PM

Joy Mangano’s life is nothing short of amazing. The onetime waitress and former airline reservations manager was a struggling single mom of three before she went on to sell over $3 billion worth of her inventions and inspire a star-studded movie about her life starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Brooklyn-born Mangano got her start in 1990 when she developed the prototype for her self-wringing Miracle Mop and launched it on television just two years later to astounding numbers. Nearly 20,000 mops sold in roughly 20 minutes.

“As single-mom female inventor, there was no path for that, so really I don’t think people took me seriously for a really long time,” says Mangano, who talks about her amazing life story and invites PEOPLE into her home in the new issue of the magazine. “Certainly the Miracle Mop being my first successful product, people started to pay attention, and I guess now they really pay attention.”

For more on Mangano’s, story pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd on the cover of PEOPLE

The 59-year-old went on to invent several popular household products before introducing her Huggable Hangers, which have sold 700 million to date across the United States and is the No. 1 best-selling product in the history of electronic retailing.

“At the end of the day, it has to be quality but it has to be affordable,” she says of her inventions. “My famous line is ‘Product is king.’ ”

Her HSN success caught the eye of director David O. Russell, and now Lawrence is starring Joy – out Dec. 25 and inspired by Mangano’s life – along with Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro.

“For me, what an honor,” she says. “That’s where it’s surreal. Robert De Niro, I have loved this man forever. I mean, I think I have seen the Godfather 300 times, but he is so special.”

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