Virtually every woman who carries a purse has some experience with inventor Kelley Daring’s pet peeve: arriving in a public bathroom stall and finding no hook for her bag.
“The bathroom floor is absolutely filthy,” Daring said. “You can’t put your purse there. You’re left with no options really. This purse has a long strap … but a lot of them are just little handbags. You can’t hang it around your neck. You’re pretty much left trying to balance it on your lap while you’re trying to take care of business.”
Of course, you can only sit down if the bathroom has seat covers, and doesn’t it always seem that the ickiest bathrooms never do?
Enter an intrepid Sacramentan willing to take up this challenge for the good of womankind. Daring has created a product known as Bagnet. Smaller than a driver’s license, it is a flat, rectangular-shaped pouch that contains two rare-earth magnets. The buyer chooses a lobster claw, horseshoe or O-shaped ring that attaches the pouch to her purse straps or hardware.
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Stick the 2-ounce pouch and ring against nearly any metal surface, and it holds the bag in place. Daring knows what you’re thinking: “Women are always like, ‘Oh, it’s not going to hold my purse.’ But it almost always does.”
In fact, Daring readily accepted the challenge of this columnist, who told her she would consider writing about Bagnet if it could support her 7-pound bike messenger bag. In the bathroom at midtown Sacramento’s Pronto restaurant, the inventor demonstrated a jaw-dropping feat of, well, daring.
“Somehow, I knew of rare-earth magnets, and I knew they were very strong, so I just Googled rare-earth magnets,” Daring said. “I always put in two magnets. It’s stronger than one. Two squares are also stronger than one rectangle, for whatever reason, and putting in two helps you to peel the Bagnet off the wall when you’re done.”
Daring has run into a couple of bathroom stalls where Bagnet doesn’t work: The alloys in stainless steel prevent the magnets from working, and some high-end establishments use a plastic laminate. If it’s a single-toilet bathroom without a stall, Daring said, she’s had success just hooking Bagnet to a door frame.
Daring, who has a degree in interior design from Sacramento State, did all her own research and development for Bagnet. She quit her job at an office furniture company last year to get her product off the ground, but her work afforded her a steady supply of fabric swatches for experimentation on Bagnet prototypes. She found that faux and real leathers were durable but also allowed the magnets to function.
She taught herself some basic sewing techniques while working on her prototypes, she said.
“I got out my mom’s old Brothers sewing machine,” the 37-year-old Daring said, “and I started just playing with it. I came up with lots of different ideas – different shapes, different colors, different shapes of magnets. … I used each different type of prototype on my purse for a while to see how it worked. I would tweak it and make it a little bit better.”
After a month or so, Daring felt she had a product that was good enough to patent. That was in February 2015. By May, she had her website, www.bagnetcompany.com, up for sales, and after that she developed a booth to take on the road to different festivals and fairs. At the three-day Harvest Festival at Cal Expo last November, she said, she sold about 500 units at a cost of $20 each.
Daring’s booth is set up, she said, to look like a bathroom stall, and people always come by to see what’s going on with the toilet paper. The rhythm of the sale never grows old for Daring: first utter skepticism, then the product demonstration, followed by wonderment and the purchase.
Each Bagnet will hold up to 8 pounds, Daring said, so if she runs up against a particularly heavy purse, she recommends that the customer use two. Up until now, Daring has made all of her products by hand, she told me, but she’s talking with potential manufactures in Los Angeles to take that function over.
Her ultimate goal, however, is to license her product to purse makers because they will have bigger budgets to spread the word about the product.
“I don’t want to be manufacturing it or selling it,” she said. “I’d rather it go to a big company with a lot of marketing dollars, and they could put it on their shelves or in stores and I’d just get a licensing fee.”