BY PENNY DICKERSON
Some women call them “handbags’’ while older generations prefer the more dated moniker, “pocketbooks.’’ The more fashionable millennial term is is a “purse,” and for as long as they have collectively crowded church pews, claimed their own movie theater chair or longed for public bathroom hooks to hang upon, the female gender’s most necessary accessory has sought an alternative to being placed on the floor. The latter is a known “no-no.’’
According to studies, the bottom of a purse carries more germs than a bathroom toilet and “about a third of them have fecal bacteria on them,” confirmed Charles Gerba, a University of Arizona microbiologist who has studied bacteria living on handbags.
Bethune-Cookman University alumna Leslie Johnson Dorsett has found the perfect alternative in her trendy invention, “Purse Props.” She has created a support device that is compact and practical enough to eliminate most medium to large purses, diaper bags, or tablet computer satchels from being placed on unsanitary surfaces.
Further, Dorsett’s Purse Props boast a sleek design, affordability, and are arguably the “next big thing” to add to the lady arsenal of must-have gadgets.
Upon graduating from Bethune-Cookman in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech communication education, she began her 27-year educational track as an English teacher at Nova High School in Davie.
A Florida native, she has spent the last 21 years as a certified school counselor and, in 1995, earned a Master of Science in guidance and counseling followed by a certificate in educational leadership from Nova University in 2004.
She additionally holds a post-master’s certificate in marriage and family therapy, which she obtained in 2014 from St. Thomas University (Miami).
The 49-year-old author, motivational speaker and role model currently resides in Miramar with her husband of 23 years, Bernard Dorsett. Together, they’ve raised two children: Bryan, 22, and Bernae’, 21.
A woman of faith, Dorsett offers a biblical scripture to best explain what seems like an occupational quantum leap that inspired her drive to become an inventor: “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48).
According to Dorsett, she was at an event for her daughter when she realized there wasn’t a place for her purse. “The floor is never an option for me,” declared Dorsett who believed a filthy surface is not an option for most other women either.
“Purse Props was conceptualized about three years ago. We launched in October of this year, and it is now a business. I am working on developing other designs and have applied to the television entrepreneur investment show ‘Shark Tank,’ so let’s keep our fingers crossed,” added Dorsett.
Prototype and patent
Dorsett’s first plan of action was to identify a product design. The result was a compact style wallet that opens up to form a purse stand.
She then applied for a provisional patent and engaged multiple companies and entered an agreement with Blue Ring Technologies whose engineers instantly captured the vision for a practical and durable product.
The next step was application for a non-provisional patent. Prototypes surpassed stress tests and proved to support 14 pounds of weight as the average contents of a woman’s purse, filled with a bevy of confidential contents, weighs on average seven pounds. Moreover, the Purse Prop is collapsible and easily transfers to the inside of a purse or bag without the threat of contamination.
The price is right
The current retail price for a single Purse Props is $19.95 with an alluring marketing incentive of two for $36. Dorsett’s products are currently designed in an array of hues including red, pink, royal blue, caramel, brown, and black to complement versus distract from any designer brand. The perfect baby shower gift for a “mom-to-be,” they are also available in soft pink, baby blue and manufactured in the United States by Props Production, Inc..
A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Dorsett’s invention piqued the interest of other Panhellenic organizations who seek to “bling’’ their organizations’ shields and Greek letters on Purse Props.
“Although we just launched in October of this year, we primarily targeted pre-sale orders,” said Dorsett, who received overwhelming response from family and close friends.
“Our goal was to fill all orders by the holidays and special orders kept me busy. In 2016, I plan to attend several festivals and craft fairs to promote my design, which has caught the attention of All-star Products, the company behind the “As Seen on TV” merchandise, so I know I have an amazing product.”