Mom & Entrepreneur Rachel Fine Reveals the Story Behind 'Shitten Mittens'
Rachel Fine, along with her husband Richie Wilson, invented the disposable mitten-shaped moist wipes. She chatted with Parents.com about the story behind the innovative, viral product.
Although Shitten Mittens have been around since 2013, the positively-reviewed product has been getting tons of viral acclaim recently. The disposable mitten-shaped moist wipes are meant to guard your hands and clean your kid's tush at the same time. And they're not just for parents contending with diaper blow-outs. According to the product's site, "Shittens are FDA approved and safe for babies, pets and adults."
Rachel Fine and Richie Wilson are the masterminds behind the perhaps giggle-worthy but increasingly popular product. Fine chatted with Parents.com about the origins of the product, how she and Richie use them at home with their own baby, as well as several surprising moments that have cropped up along the road to success.
Parents.com: Was there a particular moment that inspired Shittens?
Rachel Fine: My husband has a ton of crazy ideas, he's an inventor by nature. Some of them are completely terrible. Yesterday, I heard him yell from the bathroom, "Babe! What if you could brush your teeth and pee AT THE SAME TIME?!?" I was like, "I love you, but no one in the world needs to do that." He cracks me up!
When he came up with the idea for Shittens, I knew right away it was great. He suffers from Crohn's, so I'd consider him a toilet paper aficionado and the best person to "build a better mousetrap" in that arena. We also have a 120-pound mastiff who has a unique gift for backing up and stepping in her own poop. Chasing her down with a wet wipe is a messy proposition. The idea of being able to grab and clean her paw while our hand was fully protected was a definite win.
Parents.com: How did you make the protoype?
Rachel Fine: Richie and I worked for the The Howard Stern Show, and the night before [businessman and investor] Mark Cuban was coming on, we found out we were going to have the opportunity to pitch Shittens for a staff Shark Tank segment. I took two square wet wipes, traced his hand, cut them out, and sewed them together. I thought pulling the prototype Shitten out of a box would look more impressive, so I peeled the label off a competitor's plastic wet wipe box and printed a janky homemade Shittens label. It looked completely terrible, but it got the idea across!
Parents.com: What went into the process of turning your invention into an actual product?
Rachel Fine: The segment went really well. Mark actually liked the product and said we had a great idea, but not a business. The second we had his vote of confidence, we knew we were on to something. In the next 24 hours, I'd registered all the domain names, filed for a provisional patent and trademark, built my first ever website, set up a Indiegogo account, and most importantly, connected with Michael Weinstein (who is currently the CMO of Allstar Products Group). He'd been listening to the show and knew right away we had a hit. Michael was running a digital agency at the time and had brought countless products to market. He, along with our fourth partner, Michael Powers, connected us to the factories and distribution channels needed to turn this crazy idea into a real product.
Parents.com: What do you think people would be most surprised to know about the story behind Shittens, as well as the various ways they can be used?
Rachel Fine: I think, for me, the biggest surprise has been the outpouring of appreciation from special needs communities. I spend my days writing poop jokes (I'm #1 at #2!), so to receive countless emails from people who have actually been helped by our products genuinely chokes me up. The autism community feels like a second family to us; we donate Shittens to any fundraiser they ask us about. We've also received notes from military members deployed overseas who love Shittens. Yeah, the name cracks them up, but the functionality—having a mitt to wipe down with when you're covered in sand and can't take a shower—has been huge. It feels good to know we're providing them some comfort. Also, a group of marathon runners contacted us and asked if they could be the "Shittens Team" in their relay. They loved wiping off with Shittens during the race. We sent them a bunch of packs!
Parents.com: How have Shittens come in handy for you at home as a mom?
Rachel Fine: As new parents, our first big blowout happened in a car seat. Dear Lord, that clean-up was horrific. Putting on a Shitten to wipe down the seat was a lifesaver. We don't use them for every diaper change, but for those epic blowouts, they really come in handy!
Right now, they're pricey, so we only use them when we really need them. We're a small start up. We don't have the economy of scale to do huge production runs like the big toilet paper companies. We hope to be able to make them more affordable as we grow and can place larger production orders. But I'll say this: When you really need a Shitten—for baby blow-outs, toddler's potty training, special needs, elderly care, friends overseas, camping trips, pets, etc.—they're worth every penny. As Mark Cuban said, "Everybody needs a Shitten!"