“I went to all the big names that you could think of and they said, ‘we don’t need it—no woman has asked us for that . . .’ so I went into manufacturing myself.”
Marion O’Brien Donovan
Marion O’Brien Donovan (1917–1998), a college-educated Connecticut homemaker, continually sought better ways to organize her home and take care of her children.
Frustrated with frequently having to change her baby’s soaked cloth diapers, clothing, and bedding, Donovan became determined to find a better way to keep infants dry. She used a section of her bathroom shower curtain for her first prototype of a diaper cover that would prevent leaks. That experiment led to her creation of the Boater, a reusable diaper cover made from surplus nylon parachute cloth, which went on sale at Saks Fifth Avenue in 1949. She sold the Boater—her first successful invention—for $1 million in 1951 and went on to create numerous products intended to make everyday tasks easier and more eﬃcient.
The Big Hang-Up
One of Donovan's later inventions was the Big Hang-Up, a closet organizer for hanging “30 to 40 slacks, skirts, shorts, belts, scarfs, jewelry” in a compact space. Donovan researched several manufacturers of small clothespins before finding ones that worked for her design.
In the 1990s, Donovan invented the DentaLoop, a loop of dental floss with flat and fluffy sections to clean thoroughly between teeth. Donovan claimed that the pre-cut loops were easier to use than the typical method of winding long lengths of floss around the fingers.
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Source for quote above: Excerpts from “Not for Women Only with Barbara Walters,” April 1975, https://youtu.be/j-YtYOKt6T0.