Tiffany Platt was tired of the crying that came with trying to wash her young daughters’ hair. Sure, some of those may have been her own stress-induced tears, but Platt was mostly battling stinging, shampoo-filled eyes on her girls.
With a background in mechanical engineering, the Seattle mom went to work designing a solution to a pain point that should be familiar to most parents — when a bath before bedtime turns into a nightmare.
Platt and her family moved to Seattle from San Francisco two years ago. Her husband Cliff took a job with Amazon and Platt took to setting up a new house up and getting the girls — Avery, 6, and Charlotte, 4 — settled. She abandoned a brief job search of her own.
“This idea kind of happened around the same time, and I was like, ‘Screw it, I’m gonna go for it,'” Platt said.
The idea is Shampoo Buddy, a molded plastic hair-rinsing accessory, inspired by salon sinks, that attaches to a countertop or the side of a tub with suction cups. It’s designed to keep a kid’s head tilted back to keep the soap and water out of eyes — and the stress out of hair washing. A Kickstarter for the product went live on Tuesday with a goal of $20,000.
Platt said her younger daughter was the bigger inspiration behind the idea and as a mother she went the route of inventing her own product because she couldn’t find a suitable answer for getting Charlotte to keep her head back.
“There’s all these things you can try. I’ve since read a bunch of stuff about it just to see what everybody else does,” Platt said. “People put stickers on their ceiling — any trick they can do to try to get their kid to actually look up. All of those things on the market are perfect already if your kid can actually follow directions.”
Platt said she wasn’t actively looking to design a product to solve the problem until a light went off during a trip to the hair salon.
“I had just kind of resigned myself to the fact that hair washing was going to be a nightmare until they were older,” Platt said. “And then I went to a hair salon to get haircuts for them, and I had kind of started doing that thing where you apologize ahead of time to the person who is about to take care of your kid. But instead of melting down like at home, [Charlotte] just went into the chair and leaned back and she’s like, ‘This is amazing.’ She almost fell asleep while she was getting her hair washed.”
Platt said her jaw was on the floor and she started taking pictures and sending them to her husband, saying, “We need to get a salon sink at home.”
Platt thought for sure that there must already be a product on the market that would replicate that head-back experience without the installation of a custom sink. But she couldn’t quite find what she was looking for.
“So I thought, ‘I’ll just make one myself.'”
The only consumer product experience she had before setting out to make the Shampoo Buddy was during an 8-month stint at Joby, whose signature product is a flexible camera tripod. Now, after almost two years of design and prototyping, she’s ready to test the waters on Kickstarter and see if there is a demand for what she’s come up with.
The earliest backers of the project will be able to get a single Shampoo Buddy for $24. The price rises to $28 after that limited quantity is spoken for. The retail price for the product will eventually be $38. If you happen to run your own store, the biggest offering on Kickstarter is a 10-pack for $190.
Platt’s hope is to eventually see Shampoo Buddy in small and large retailers. The first thing she’ll do after fulfilling her Kickstarter orders is set up a Shopify or Amazon channel for distribution. She also plans to attend the All Kids Expo in Las Vegas this fall and hopefully have a booth.
As for Avery and Charlotte, they’ve already moved on because Shampoo Buddy helped them get over their phobia of hair washing. Platt laughed at the prospect that she might be designing products for years to come to help the girls cope with other discomforts.