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Friday, February 28, 2014

Stay-At-Home Mom’s ‘DrainWig’ Invention Included In Oscar Swag Bag

Jennifer Briggs' invention, the DrainWig, which catches hair lost in the shower and prevents drain clogs, will be in the Oscar swag bags for all the nominees at this Sunday's Academy Awards. (DrainWig)

Jennifer Briggs’ invention, the DrainWig, which catches hair lost in the shower and prevents drain clogs, will be in the Oscar swag bags for all the nominees at this Sunday’s Academy Awards. (DrainWig)

The Academy Award ceremony is Hollywood’s biggest celebration of movie stars. There is some stiff competition in many of the categories this year, and not everyone will leave with a gold statuette — but they will all get a DrainWig.

DrainWig is a daisy-shaped drain ornament attached to a stainless steel chain with rubber whiskers meant to be inserted into a shower drain to prevent hair clogs. It’s one of the many products featured in this year’s Oscar nominee gift bag, which has been valued at $80,000.

The inventor of the product, stay-at-home mom Jennifer Briggs, joined Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to explain how it works and how she managed to get her product into the swag bag.

“If Amy Adams or Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Lawrence puts it in her drain and then tweets about it and says, ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t have to call in the maintenance guy,’ or ‘I didn’t have to call the plumber and spend 150 bucks’ — really, I mean, these are Hollywood actresses,” Briggs said. “They lose hair. For me to have my little product, that is such a simple, little, inexpensive solution to everybody’s problem, be put in a bag like that is incredible. I mean, words can’t express how exciting that was for me.”

Video: How DrainWig works


  • Jennifer Briggs, co-founder of the DrainWig.



Well, if you're watching the Oscars from home this Sunday, you'll probably get a better view than some people who are in the auditorium in Hollywood. But you won't get what the nominees get: a swag bag filled with $85,000 worth of goodies. There are trips to Las Vegas and Hawaii, a walking tour of Japan, high-end pet food, and a DrainWig.

Jennifer Briggs is the inventor of it. She joins us now from KBYU in Provo, Utah. Jennifer, thanks for joining us.

JENNIFER BRIGGS: Thank you for having me.

HOBSON: Well, first of all, tell us what the DrainWig is.

BRIGGS: OK. Well, the DrainWig, it prevents hair clogs in the shower drain. So it has a little flower on the top that sits on top of the drain, and it has this stainless steel chain in the middle with these little rubber whiskers that go down the chain, and you simply insert it over the top cover of the drain. And you leave it in the drain for, you know, three to five months, depending on how much hair you lose. And you just let it sit there and it will collect all that hair that goes down the drain. And it literally slides out of the smallest little hole like a rat, right out, and into the trash so...

HOBSON: Three to five months you leave it down there?

BRIGGS: Yeah. You can. You can leave it three to five months. In my house, I have five daughters with long hair, including myself. We change it every two months.

HOBSON: So what gave you the idea to get it put into the bag at the Oscars that will go to the nominees?

BRIGGS: Yeah. OK. This is cool. So we were at the Chicago Home and Housewares Show where I literally just launched my product. And there were a few women that were together in a group. And they're walking down the aisle, and I grabbed them. I was in the inventors section. And I grabbed them and I started talking to them, and they were from the Grommet. And they listened to my story and they loved it, and they said, you know what, we want you - we want to sell your product. We're huge champions of investors. Well, they have a relationship with the agency who puts together the gift bags for the nominees at the Oscars. And she contacted us and said, hey, you guys should do this. And we were like, yeah, of course we'll do this.

HOBSON: Why? Why did you want to do that?

BRIGGS: Well, I'm a stay-at-home mom, OK? And for me to have this opportunity in the Oscar swag bag is, like, I never, in my wildest dreams, would've ever, ever guessed that I would even be - even close to be nominated or - I'm not nominated but asked to have my DrainWig in a bag like that, really. I mean these are Hollywood actresses. They lose hair. They have the, you know, embarrassing problem of clogged drains. And for me to have my little product that is such a simple, little, inexpensive solution to everybody's problem be put in a bag like that is incredible. I mean, words can't express how exciting that was for me.

HOBSON: And you actually have to pay to make that happen, right?

BRIGGS: Yeah, you do. We paid $2,000 to have it put in. We didn't even ask my husband. He is a, you know, co-creator, and we didn't even ask his permission. We were like, yes, we're putting - yeah, we'll pay the $2,000 and put our DrainWig in this bag. Yeah. That was like no-brainer.

HOBSON: And how much is your product valued at?

BRIGGS: OK. This was the funny part. $12.95. It was - for two of them. But it was embarrassing because, you know, you'll read the list of, like, the 2013 and all those, you know, the value of all those gifts that were put in that bag. And I was like, you know, $12,000, $14,000 value, and I write down $12.95. But you get two and, you know what, it solves the problem that everybody has, so I'm proud of it.

HOBSON: Do you have any plans to sneak into one of the bags and try to make your way into the Oscars so you could see them in person?

BRIGGS: Oh, yeah. Can I fit? I wish.


BRIGGS: It would be awesome.

HOBSON: Then it would be worth even more than $85,000.

BRIGGS: Oh, yeah. It would be - yeah, it'd be way worth it.

HOBSON: Jennifer Briggs, co-founder of the DrainWig, which will be in all of the goody bags that are going to the nominees at this year's Academy Awards. Jennifer, thanks so much.

BRIGGS: Thank you so much for having me.

HOBSON: From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.


I'm Meghna Chakrabarti. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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  • SacSaabaru

    Story just ran here in Sac and the DrainWig site is crashing :D This is a great thing, best of luck to you Jennifer. Will probably order mine from Amazon over the weekend

  • Lunchsensenancy

    Good story, best of luck to you.

    I’m at the other end of a similar storyline – I invented my product in 2007, got it on the market in 2008, and have spent the intervening time making it go. It’s been a huge learning curve, without a doubt, and I’m reminded (again) what makes a successful product launch has as much to do with luck as anything – see yesterday’s story from Morning Edition (“Good Art is Popular because it’s good. Right?”) for some interesting parallels.
    I’d be really, really curious to hear if Jennifer sees a return on her investment for the Oscar bags, or if the return comes from simply this story about getting her product into the Oscar bags. Note, though, that the Oscar bags have a much higher cost ($2k+product & time) than the story (essentially free).
    Over the last 5-6 years I’ve received solicitations (a couple times a year – I’m on the mailing list, I’m sure) to get my product into Oscar swag bags and I’ve not chosen to go that route. Has it been a mistake? I don’t think so – I’ve just chosen to put my marketing $$ elsewhere. If I had a news story on NPR come from the Oscar bags, though, I’d do the swag bags in a heartbeat.

  • Amy Bernstein

    Hi All,
    Amy from The Grommet team here. We are thrilled to watch DrainWig receive all the recognition they deserve. As Jennifer said, we do champion inventors and makers and watching their success is what we care about.

    Lunchsensenancy – feel free to submit your product idea to us via our Citizens Gallery or ideas@thegrommet.com.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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