For Sabrina Temple, a motherly task was the mother of invention.
Temple, who lives in Richmond, is set to hit the market this week with The RollerComb, a patented hairstyling tool she’s been working on for more than a decade.
The RollerComb combines a comb and a styling pick with an ergonomic grip designed to make it easier to juggle multiple styling tools at once. Temple is marketing the product to both professional and home stylists as a more efficient alternative to a traditional comb.
Temple said the idea for the invention came to her one day while combing, parting and braiding her daughter’s hair. She was trying to solve the hassle of constantly switching between combs and picks.
“Around the third or fourth time, you’ve misplaced the comb and now you’re looking for it,” she said. “One day I was doing the motion and bam – that was when the vision (for RollerComb) hit.”
Temple had the first design drawing created in 2008, and that initial incarnation was a more complicated ancestor of the current concept. Since then, fine-tuning, developing, testing and producing the RollerComb has been a process of frequent footwork and lucky breaks. Temple, whose day job is at Dominion Energy, declined to share her investment in the comb, but said it was self-financed.
One particular breakthrough came in 2014, when Temple attended the International Beauty Show New York. The industry trade show features workshops, classes and exhibitors. But Temple wasn’t one of those exhibitors, because it was too expensive to reserve a vendor table.
Instead, she got in front of as many people as she could with a RollerComb in hand, including serving as a model when one man tested the comb on her own hair.
“We’re out there in the vestibule and this guy is combing my hair with my RollerComb,” she said.
Overall, the RollerComb got a good reception. It was an important experience because it affirmed the usefulness of the tool, and showed Temple there was interest among stylists.
“It was a lot of walking and talking. I felt people were accepting of an idea that didn’t exist,” Temple said.
Dogged networking provided more momentum. A patent lawyer was willing to give her some pro bono time. A particularly helpful Ohio-based manufacturer, which makes the combs, went above and beyond in helping her line up the right molds for her plastic combs.
The RollerComb is a product of Temple’s company, J and J Temple Innovations, with headquarters at Temple’s home in Richmond. It has produced 5,000 combs for the launch. The comb will retail for $50-$60 and be available via Temple’s website.