Saturday, July 22, 2000

First diapers, now bibs

Lacking sturdy disposable bibs, mom created them

By Kristen Hays
The Associated Press

        BELLE VERNON, Pa. — Modern parenting has plenty of elements intended to make life easier, from paper towels to disposable diapers and bottles.

        But when Melanie Patterson's son Cody was born five years ago, she thought something was missing: a hardy disposable bib, so she didn't have to constantly wash cloth ones. When she couldn't find any, she creat ed one.

        PIBS, her non-woven paper bibs with slick, leak-proof backing, come in rolls of 15, much like paper towels, though the bibs are about two inches wider. She patented PIBS in June 1996 and initially sold them over the Internet from her home.

        This year, boxes of the bibs landed on shelves at Giant Eagle stores in the Pittsburgh and Cleveland areas at $9.99 for a box of 15.

        Now, So Cute, a year-old Toronto-based company, sells a similar product over the Internet and by word of mouth.

        SoCute spokeswoman Marlene Valana said, “ It's very hard to get a new product in stores. There's a lot of hesitation about it. There's no big guys behind us” like Johnson & Johnson or Procter & Gamble.

        Ms. Patterson faced similar roadblocks when paper manufacturers and distributors were unwilling to take on her product.

        Undaunted, Ms. Patterson found paper-good suppliers at a paper exposition in Baltimore who gave her sample materials to try. Berkeley Medical Resources in Uniontown used those materials to make the bibs.


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