The Scrunchie

Rommy Kolb was born in 1944. She worked in retail in her teens and early twenties. She moved on to become a singer and songwriter with great reviews. But she didn’t like the culture of being a performer.

Rommy married the heir to the Revlon cosmetics fortune, but her marriage didn’t last. She was left with no money and was stressed. Her hair was thinning. The plastic clips she used to hold up her hair were further damaging her hair. She thought there had to be a way to hold her hair without damaging it.

She had an idea of a cloth holder based on her pajama bottoms, so she tried to combine the cloth with elastic inside. She didn’t know how to sew but bought a sewing machine and taught herself enough to place the elastic band inside the cloth using her pajamas as a model. It took her two weeks just to learn how to thread a needle.

She called her product a scrunci after her dog. She was able to get a design patent to protect the look of the scrunci. The product took off quickly but became known as a Scrunchie. Media stars started wearing the Scrunchie, extending its popularity.

Others began to copy her design and flood the market in violation of her design patent. She had to sue the major retailers who were selling the Scrunchie knock-offs. She won her lawsuit and retailers agreed to only sell Scrunchies made by approved licensees. She eventually sold her rights to the Scrunchie for $250 million.

The Scrunchie name has outlived the patent. It has become famous for those who wear it. Colonel Pamela Melroy, a NASA astronaut, wore it into space to keep her hair from flying around. Movie stars have worn them at galas. Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg was a famous Scrunchie wearer.

Scrunchies are one of those products that evoke the phrase: “Why didn’t I think of that?” Many beginnings are actually simple. Think of how many people used a rubber band to hold their hair in place without thinking of enclosing the rubber band in cloth and making it fashionable. Beginnings don’t have to come from a lab but often come from a cranky mind.

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            “You can never have too many scrunchies.” – Unknown

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