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A woman's simple idea catches on, garners fame

Let's face it, we like to look our best. But there have long been far too many impediments to achieving our goals.

Some of it is a lack of knowledge of what to put on. So Stacy London and Clinton Kelly rescued many good folks with their hit show What Not To Wear.

But sometimes it's a matter of how to make it work. That's where Sara Blakely, formerly of Clearwater, comes in. She has given women an edge with her Original Footless Pantyhose. Blakely's comfortable, body-slimming, toeless Spanx products have become the rage from Main Street to Hollywood since she cut the feet off her hose to get shaping and an invisible panty line under slacks while wearing sandals.

Okay, now I hear somebody saying, "Why is he writing about pantyhose, panty lines and body-slimming gear?"

No, this is not a product I tested. But Good Housekeeping did.

Good Housekeeping gave the Original Footless Pantyhose its 2009 Hall of Fame Award for its First Annual VIP (Very Innovative Products) Awards.

Blakely, 37, is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit and the fact that consumers have in their heads and, ah, drawers, the potential for life-changing ideas.

"In 1998, I was getting dressed for a party and couldn't find the right undergarment, so I cut the feet out of my pantyhose to wear with white pants and open-toed shoes," Blakely said. "At that moment, I knew this was something women needed. With $5,000 in savings, a lot of Internet research, patent writing, cold calling, less-than-shy demonstrations for buyers and a call from Oprah, Spanx was born."

Spanx products range from around $20 to $80.

If you're not into ladies' undergarments

Good Housekeeping also cited some gender-neutral products that are making consumers' lives a little more livable:

Portobello mushrooms (from Dole): While few foods provide much Vitamin D, Dole has developed mushroom caps and slices that contain the daily amount recommended. Dole uses a flash of light during growth, which helps the mushrooms synthesize more vitamin D without changing taste. Price: $3.50 for 6 ounces.

Satellite GPS Messenger (from Spot): With near total global coverage, this GPS system works where cell phones don't and has a 911 emergency signal that transmits every five minutes for up to 14 days until rescue. Price: $170, plus $100 per year for service.

Scotch Fur Fighter (from 3M): With a textured pad, this pet hair remover collects virtually every hair, even if embedded deeply in fabric. It tested safe on most upholstery, including silk. Spot-check furniture first, though. Price: $10; eight-sheet refills, $5.

Versus Bare Floor Vacuum (from Bissell): The slim vacuum's V-shaped head gets into hard-to-reach nooks and crannies, in the corners, under baseboards, and around furniture legs. In Good Housekeeping's tests, it picked up 98 percent of dirt from tight spots regular vacuums miss. Price: $80.

Tide Total Care (from Procter & Gamble): Tests of Tide Total care found that after 15 washes, a navy blue top looked almost brand new, while a rival product and an identical shirt looked faded and worn. Price: $13 for 100 ounces.

A woman's simple idea catches on, garners fame 01/16/09 [Last modified: Friday, January 16, 2009 10:40pm]
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