The Original Car Seat Cozy
Entrepreneur and inventor Sharon Mullen may be a perfect illustration of the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” This Hampton, New Hampshire wife and mother established her own company, Inventive Parent, in 2000 after her son was born. She quickly found that caring for a newborn required innovative solutions to problems for which helpful products did not exist. She was surprised to find, for example, that attachable blankets did not exist for baby carriers and car seats for children over one year old.
Mullen became frustrated when she took her son out for walks and constantly had to pick up a blanket that would fall off, drag on the ground, or blow in the wind. She created her own design for an attachable blanket, called the Original Car Seat Cozy, which attaches to car seats, joggers, and bike seats. When friends began expressing interest in her design, she decided to investigate the juvenile products marketplace.
Mullen visited an international showcase where she saw many other products invented by parents. This convinced her that the best products were not designed by large corporations, but rather by parents who came up with solutions to problems out of necessity.
Shortly thereafter, Mullen decided to create an online store to carry her products, as well as other products for children and childcare that were created by parents. She launched the website, Inventive Parent, in June of 2000.
By 2001, Inventive Parent had grown enough to force Mullen to move into larger offices, with more than 30 products available to consumers. The mission statement was “Great products invented by real moms and dads, now available for your family. We've been there. We understand.” Inventive Parent sold items such as the Car Seat Cozy, Cozy To Go, and Cozy For Two, as well as the Baby B'Air, Mighty Tite, My Own Shower, and Snuggle.
Mullen earned a bachelor’s degree in Administration and Theatre from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree in history from Tufts University. She spent 11 years working for Tufts as the manager of a campus theatre and arts center. At Inventive Parent, she reached out to the community by donating products to needy children and publishing a newsletter, which gave subscribers the opportunity to donate a percentage of their purchase to selected organizations and charities. For her outstanding entrepreneurial work, she won a $10,000 grant from Balance Oasis in 2002.