By Bob Bong
An Orland Park couple who invented a shower gadget to keep hair from going down the drain will make an appearance Friday night on ABC’s “Shark Tank” reality show.
“We call it the HairyGrabster,” said Patty Watne, who grew up in Palos Heights and Palos Park. She’s part of the Mitchell Flowers family from Orland Park. “I knew right away it was a ‘Shark Tank’ gadget.”
In short, the device suction cups to the shower wall and when someone, particularly with longer hair, washes their hair, they swipe their hands over the gadget and it has bristles that snag the hair off the hand and holds it until it can be thrown away.
“It started about four years ago,” she said. “Our daughter was 14 and had long hair and her dad saw all the hair that was going down the drain and was disgusted.”
“We wanted something to keep the walls cleaner and to keep all that hair from going down the drain.”
Since there was no product on the market to keep long hair out of the drain, Watne and her husband, Andy, went to work.
There were some learning pains and the process of bringing an idea to fruition had some ups and downs, like the first designer in China who simply disappeared after taking the Watne’s money.
But, eventually, they found a company in China that could make their invention exactly like they wanted.
They started selling it online in late fall of 2019 and Watne was in the early stages of trying to interest area salons in the HairyGrabster when the pandemic hit.
“I had started taking samples to salons when the world shut down,” she said. “The salons all shut down.”
Despite the shutdown, business has started to take off.
“We have sold a few thousand,” said Watne. The gadget retails for $9.95 and they offer free shipping.
“If the buyer is local, I’ll just drop it off,” she said.
She said “Shark Tank” normally holds casting calls for inventors to make their pitch, but with the pandemic they started taking applications online.
“I filled out an application in April 2020,” she said. The show called and they filmed their appearance last fall in Las Vegas.
She said she can’t reveal any details until after the show airs, but did offer some of their preparation for making their pitch.
“I did a lot of research on the sharks,” she said. “I wanted to make sure it was relatable to them.”
She said that instead of handing the HairyGrabster to the sharks, they were already in front of them when the pitch started.
“There was extra social distancing and no contact with the sharks.”
“The pitch is scripted,” she said. “But then the Q&A starts and that’s real.”
Their episode will air at 7 p.m. Friday night on ABC.
For information, visit hairygrabster.com.