OAKLEAF - Runners at the week long Gate River Run 15K expo are always on the hunt for the latest techno shoe, or supercool sunglasses or high-tech wrist watch. From their living room in Oakleaf, …
OAKLEAF - Runners at the week long Gate River Run 15K expo are always on the hunt for the latest techno shoe, or supercool sunglasses or high-tech wrist watch.
From their living room in Oakleaf, packed with a dozen moving boxes with their invention, Sara Slettebo, a frequent gym and running athlete, decided she was just tired of having to grab a towel, use her sweaty shirt or just wisk away sweat from her brow with her even sweatier hand.
"I was tired of forgetting my towels for the gym or using my yucky shirt to wipe my face and decided to invent something," said Slettebo, who claimed husband Kelly was the "reality" check for her numerous invention ideas. "Every athlete has had to find a towel in the middle of a workout and it is usually on the floor or stuffed in the gym bag or in the waist band of sweaty shorts."
Slettebo's answer, seven years after prototyping one of the more unique ideas that launched at the Gate River Run expo last week, was her Dry in Stride retractable towel. Note: Two Dry in Strides were sold right as this interview was being done at the Gate River Run expo.
"We figured since the Gate River Run has inspired us to run; husband Kelly, and millions of others, what better way to validate our idea," said Slettebo, noting her Gate River Run price of two towels; 10 inch by 10 inch or 13 x 13, for $15.99 was crazy popular. "The response has been overwhelming almost to the point that we now may have to move out of our living room."
Slettebo's original idea; noting she called herself a serial entrepeneur as far back as a handheld soap contraption in elementary school, was to make a fabric that was a super towel that was attached and hard to lose.
"It is attached to your shorts or shirt or a pocket, it is reusable and it is made of a bamboo fiber that is quick to dry," said Slettebo. "We are patent pending with the bamboo towel being about five times more absorbent than a cotton towel."
Slettebo also mentioned that the bamboo construction has an added bonus of being sustainable.
"Some bamboo is grown as fast as three feet per day," said Slettebo.
The retractable reel that attaches to any belt or the elastic band of workout clothes is similar to an identification sling or a small key ring sling. The towel itself has a snap in the center that attaches to the reel's line.
"The towels retract about three and half feet," said Slettebo. "If you need to reach your face, your legs or even a child's face in the stroller, it can reach."
The early beginnings of the Dry in Stride idea took about a year for Slettebo to get the right idea on paper, engineered and market tested.
"I had great friends that chipped in ideas as to the heaviness of the clip, the fabrics, the type of clip so it stays on the person and doesn't fall off and then we started making them in our dining room," said Slettebo, noting 50 different fabrics were tried. "We are now at the point where our manufacturer is going to start making them with three more color patterns and we will probably expand some of the ideas for different applications like auto mechanics, health professions and golfers and even Jaguars games."