A better baby buggy; Women find a new way to exercise.
WORCESTER - Mary P. Moschos and Joanna G. James want parents to trade in their spare tires for Love Handles.
Love Handles, the product of these first-time inventors and Worcester natives, is an exercise device combining two elliptical handles with a universal clamp. It can be attached to strollers, wheelchairs or even an armchair for a stationary workout.
"Never seen one of them before," remarked a passer-by as Ms. James demonstrated the use of Love Handles on a baby carriage on the Worcester Common. Love Handles won't be seen in local neighborhoods just yet: Ms. Moschos and Ms. James have only recently begun taking orders on their Web site, www.lovehandlesinc.com. They are planning to make their product available to online and retail stores in early September. So far, Love Handles have been on display at charity walks such as the March of Dimes, as well as on TV.
According to Ms. Moschos, the mention of Love Handles on "Live with Regis and Kelly" in June led to thousands of inquiries on the Love Handles Web site.
"It catapulted us out there before we were wanting to put the site up for sales," Ms. Moschos said.
The idea for Love Handles came to Ms. James, of Boston, while she was working to obtain her master's degree at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. She observed that the only exercise that parents with small children got was pushing them in baby carriages.
"Parents don't want to be separated from their newborn," Ms. James said.
With Love Handles, Ms. James aims to transform a leisurely walk with the stroller into an upper-body workout.
Five years ago, she met Ms. Moschos, her boyfriend's mother, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the two became business partners as they worked to bring the idea to life.
To engineer the product, the founders returned to their hometown of Worcester, and through leads from the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, they hired DCI Engineering Services of Worcester. Ms. Moschos and Ms. James are in the process of getting a manufacturer, pledging to have all Love Handles "made in the U.S.A." A patent for the device is pending.
Despite the recession and $109.99 price tag, both founders insist Love Handles is truly a need and cost-efficient in the long run for parents looking to get in shape without leaving their children behind.
"Ellipticals cost thousands," Ms. James said. "It's an alternative to getting a baby sitter, paying for the gym and paying for the gas to get there."
Running their own business is "new for both of us and very exciting," said Ms. Moschos, who graduated from Boston College with a bachelor's degree in history and English. She continues to work in real estate, although Love Handles is now her focus. They are members of the Inventors Society of South Florida and also made it through the first round of auditions of "Mom, Inc," a new reality show on TLC hosted by Kelly Ripa that features women inventors.
"Being a woman inventor is frosting on the cake," Ms. Moschos said. "We've gotten lots of notoriety for the fact that we are women inventors." Added Ms. James, "The men dealing with us have been very impressed."
The founders are not thinking about any business ventures together beyond Love Handles, but haven't ruled out trying their hand at invention once more.
"There could be another great idea next week around the corner, and we are willing to follow it," Ms. Moschos said.
PHOTOG: T&G Staff/MARK C. IDE
CUTLINE: Joanna G. James demonstrates the use of a baby carriage that has been modified with the Love Handles as Mary P. Moschos looks on.