MUM INVENTORS

29 Sep 2004, 04:53:38 PM

REPORTER: Rodney Wenn

Living on a small farm in the Tasmanian countryside, mother of two Lindy Honeychurch can't afford to let her brood waste any water. “It can get really dry down here. We have to watch how much water we use, especially the length of our showers” she says.

The family's only source of water comes form the tank out the back, which often runs dry in Summer, costing big bucks to fill up. “It's about $150 for half a tank” Lindy explains.

Like most of us, Lindy realized a lot of water was going down the drain every time she turned on the hot tap and waited for the water to get warm - on average, between 2 to 4 litres each time. But unlike most of us, the part-time piano teacher decided to do something about it: she set about trying to create her own water-saving device.

“I originally didn't think that I would have the capacity to be able to do this - I had no knowledge of engineering, no knowledge of thermostats. But with the support of my family, I suppose I had the courage to start looking” Lindy explains.

And with the assistance of her Dad-turned-business-partner Gary, that courage has paid off, with the creation of this prototype called “water miser”. “It took me 5 or 10 minutes to realize the potential of it. I think, after thinking about it quite a bit, the potential is almost worldwide” declares Gary.

Incredibly, after purchasing and studying a second-hand car thermostat, Lindy knocked out the original design on one of the kid's sketching toys: “that's where my designs started – on the kids' megasketch and magnadoodle!” she laughs.

The device works by sending all that cold water that comes out of the hot tap when you first turn it on, back to be stored and used again, instead of just letting it go down the drain.

“For us, we'd save 16,000 litres, and as the kids get older and want to spend longer using the hot water, it will be up around 18,000 litres per annum” explains Linda.

Linda and Gary are now preparing to take their idea to market, where they anticipate the “water miser” will fetch around $200. “If you think about how much water you're saving over an annual period, it will pay for itself” enthuses Lindy.

And over to another inventive mum – Louise Mellington, who wasn't about to let her ingenius idea remain just an idea, despite having to run a house full of kids every day.

“It's a professional spray-on tanning business, and also a tan in a can – it's one of the first aerosols ever made in Australia, and maybe the world” Louise proudly declares of her product: Australia's own tan-in-a-can.

Louise was able to develop her product, despite the meeting the demands of running a family, and even though her work background was in banking. Further, she encourages others to try the same: “If you have a product that you know is going to work, and work from home, go for it! It is fantastic to get all the rewards”

And necessity was the mother of invention when mother Carrie Felton came up with her big idea! She explains: “It was an accident. It started because our eldest child was going to crèche and we were told to label everything. So I innocently went to a printer and asked him to produce labels for me, which he did, and they cost me $75 for 15 labels, which I thought was pretty outrageous”.

Now, Carrie's sticky label business called “Stuck on You” is making serious money all over the world. “We've got franchises in about 8 or 9 countries. The business is going brilliantly” she exclaims.

Lindy Honeychurch expects in time, everyone will have a water miser in their own home, and she hopes others who find themselves in her position believe in themselves enough to follow their big ideas through: To any mothers that have any ideas, do your research and give it a go, and follow your dreams!”.