Marissa Streng with her dog Mojo wrapped up in the Puff-N-Fluff and ready to get dried off.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – A sense of purpose and determination is what a young Indian Rocks Beach inventor says is necessary to successfully invent something.
Marissa Streng, 12, is the inventor of the Puff–N–Fluff, a device to help dry off dogs after their bath. Streng said it was born out of necessity.
“Our dog didn’t like being wet after his bath, and we didn’t like that wet dog smell all over the house,” she said.
So she came up with a suit that goes on the dog and allows warm air from a regular home hair dryer to blow through the suit and all over the dog.
“It only takes from 15 to 25 minutes from start to finish,” she said. “There are draw strings to keep it in place around the neck and tail and Velcro to keep it on along the body.”
The Puff-N-Fluff has been manufactured and is already in stores. It took determination to get this far. It began with Streng enlisting the help of her mom, Sharon.
“We went upstairs to the sewing machine and made the prototype,” she said. “I’m really happy and excited that it worked, but if it didn’t we’d keep trying until it did work.”
The whole thing began as a third grade science project for Streng. Her Puff-N-Fluff passed the test but it didn’t stop there.
“Our science teacher submitted it to a contest being run at USF. I ended up winning my age division,” she said.
They say “much begets more,” and that’s what happened to Streng and her invention.
“Jimmy Fallon and the Tonight Show were having a segment on young inventors who had been patented and they gave me a call,” she said. “I was on Fallon’s opening week and I got a prize of $5,000 in a contest sponsored by General Electric.”
As for meeting Fallon himself, Streng said it was a pleasant experience.
“Jimmy Fallon is very kind and made me feel warm and not nervous,” she said. “It was amazing.”
All that didn’t happen because a 12-year-old girl had a good idea. It happened because of a lot of hard work. Marissa’s mother Sharon said there was plenty of heavy lifting to do to get this far.
“It costs thousands of dollars to patent anything,” she said. “Although it was a lot easier than we thought; once Marissa won the award at USF, their patent people helped us through the procedure to get a patent of our own. It made things a lot easier.”
Then came the task of getting the product to market, into stores and marketing the Puff-N-Fluff.
“The hard part about that is that it is such a different item,” she said. “You almost need to see a video of it to understand how it works. Since the Fallon show we have 150 of them on Amazon but that’s about it. We haven’t put a lot of time or money into marketing; it is hard to do.”
Still, said her mother, the experience has been invaluable for Marissa.
“We’re extremely proud of her. The nice thing about this is she’s learning something that you aren’t taught in school,” she said. “She has gone to all the meetings with the manufacturers; she’s picked out the colors and talked about what had to be done. She has learned about expenses and marketing, she has had to get up to speak at meetings, it is a priceless education.”
It is one thing to invent something that people will like. But in this case more than people have to like it; the dogs have to like it too. That doesn’t seem to be a problem however if Marissa’s Pug dog Mojo is any indication.
“The first time we tried it on him he was like, ‘what are you putting on me,’” she said. “But he quickly got used to the warm air circulating around him. Most dogs are like that; they calm down once they start to get warm.”
Since that first time Mojo apparently is a fan of the Puff-N-Fluff.
“We use it every time he has a bath,” she said. “He now waits for us to lay it out then he walks right into it. Once it is on he normally lies down and just enjoys it.”
If a product is that well-received by its primary customers then its inventor would seem to have a good future. At least that’s what Marissa’s mom hopes.
“I hope she is a young inventor in the making and I hope she realizes she can create things and believe in herself and a product and get it going,” she said.