The smell of winter gloves and boots that never quite get dry. That smell. The GreenGloveDryer
was created to eliminate that and related problems that come with snow in Michigan.
About two years ago Karen Smoots decided to tackle an ongoing winter problem--how to dry all the way to the fingertips soaked winter gloves. Fed up with the ineffective way her electric dryer worked when it came to winter gear, Smoots and her husband put their heads together to invent a solution.
She knew she wanted it to be something that did not plug in. When she was in highschool she lived down the street from a house that went up in flames when a portable heater was left on. She also had a room in the basement. Her mother refused her constant requests for a space heater to warm up her living space because of the danger of leaving it plugged in, so she grew up with that concern.
"We're in and out a lot and I didn't want to worry about unplugging it. I didn't want to be halfway to someplace and wonder, 'Did I unplug the glove dryer'?" Smoot says.
She sent her husband, Ryan, an engineer, to the hardware store to look for pieces they could put together that would send warm air up into the fingers of a glove. He put it together in the garage of their Portage home.
The end product is GreenGloveDryer. It has a 4-inch by 12-inch plastic base that sits over a floor register or leans against a baseboard register. It has six nozzles that are each 5.5-inches long and that have 16 holes for venting warm air into anything placed on top of them.
It has no cords and does not use any electricity of its own. Instead, it uses the warm air from the furnace coming through the register. GreenGloveDryer takes its name from the fact that it does not need added electricity. The Smoots also have created a traveling bag for the device that is made of recycled plastic. And they are exploring types of recycled plastic for future generations of their patent pending product.
The dryers, manufactured by W-L Molding Co. in Portage, were ready for sale in Nov. 20, 2014. Just two days after the big snowstorm of fall. Then weeks went by without snow.
"My father, bless his heart, told me that in December we set the record for the least snowfall in December since 1912," Smoot says. Not the best time to be bringing out their product.
The weather took a turn toward true winter and big snow in January, and Smoots says business has been going gangbusters since then. They have already sold 1,200 of the dyers.
The GreenGloveDryer is now available in more than 40 stores across Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin, is for sale on Amazon, and their own website. The company also has recently hired Waypoint Sales to help it get into more retail locations.
Smoots has been on something of a media blitz
, travelling to Detroit and its suburbs for TV appearances and interviews with reporters to talk about the benefits of the GreenGloveDryer.
"I talked with a reporter the other day and you could tell she almost wanted to come through the phone to get her own dryer," Smoots says. Some moms are that desperate for a solution to sopping wet gloves.
A mommy blogger in the Detroit area -- Metro Detroit Mommy
-- tried the GreenGloveDryer to see if it lived up to its claims and reported back that gloves she put on it were dry in 18 minutes.
Smoots also runs two other businesses, including Lakeside Parlor, an ice cream store she and her sister share. With the newest business taking off, Smoots hopes GreenGloveDryer will become her sole business focus.
Within two years, she says she hopes to be employing others in the business. Stay-at-home moms who want to get out of the house for a short time are likely to be the first she hires.
"It has been a great family adventure," she says. Her boys, Collin, 11, and Nolan, 8, love it and have been involved, showing up in a promotional video
for the glove dryer. They also are learning organization from having the invention in the house, Smoots says. "They know exactly where their wet things go to dry."
Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Karen Smoots, GreenGloveDryer