In 1809, Mary Dixon Kies received the first U.S. patent issued to a woman — and it didn't exactly cause a stampede. It took 31 years, in fact, before the number of female inventors reached a grand total of 20.
Even now, there are few. Studies show that the share of annually granted U.S. patents to women is still just 10.3 percent.
Had she known this, it's possible that Pelican Bay resident Kiersten Mooney might not have gotten her project off the ground. But sometimes, ignorance is bliss.
Her grandfather and father, after all, have numerous inventions and patents to their credit, so why not go for it? After all, she had a good idea — one that could possibly provide a real boon to less-than-scratch golfers like herself.
"It's so true that necessity is the mother of invention," the 31-year-old University of Miami graduate said.
"I'm just average on the golf course. When I'm playing, I need more than one ball but hate wasting time running back to the cart when I lose it. And let's face it, carrying extras in your pocket looks so unattractive."
Then one day lightning struck.
"Why not come up with a solution myself?" she thought.
"My grandfather invented a carrot separator for the factory where he worked during the time he was in the service as a pilot," she said. "He also invented a few other things, such as a separate sail for the main mast on a boat.
"I guess a penchant for invention was in my dad's blood, too. He holds a patent on a transfer system for immobile people to help give them autonomy."
Now Mooney has attained patent-pending status for a simple product with the trademark name Kaddysak.
Mooney describes the item as "a golf accessory that attaches easily and securely to a belt or through belt loops and gives the wearer quick access to balls, tees and markers without fumbling around in pockets or golf bags."
The Kaddysak comes in white-on-black and pink-on-black and includes one metal ball marker, she said. It's designed to hold two golf balls and four tees anywhere at the waist without obstructing the golfer's swing path.
Monogramming is available, too, which caused a bit of a hassle when she finally got her invention into the manufacturing phase. But by then, Mooney was an old hand at problem-solving.
Taking a concept from the idea stage to the marketplace, she quickly discerned, is a daunting process.
"Looking back, I baby-stepped myself through this and often felt like I was back in school," Mooney said. "For instance, once I decided to do this, I had to figure out how to make a sample of the product."
Admittedly a non-sewer — one look at her hand-stitched prototypes tells the tale — she cut up clothes from her closet to test different materials. A Nike jogging bra offered the perfect fabric.
She then took her admittedly rough-around-the-edges proto types to Werner Schroeder, a former employee of the U.S. Patent Office and the man who helped her father patent his invention.
"Do you know how many golf items I get?" was his first response.
"However, this one looks like it just might work" was his second.
Knowing she had a winner on her hands, and with a little help from her friends, Mooney found a marketing firm to help her start the business and located a manufacturer in China via e-mail and fax.
"I was lucky. They made up the initial order of 10,000 Kaddysaks, and I couldn't have gotten a better product for the money," she said. "The time frame was good, too."
It was amazing, in fact. From start to finish, from concept to the sales floor, took just one year and one month.
Of course, selling all those Kaddysaks may prove to be another story.
"We're exploring all avenues," the inventor said. "They're available online and are going into golf stores and clubs, boutiques and even hopefully on eBay."
All in all, Mooney said the project was "a lot of work but a lot of fun."
"I've really enjoyed myself and learned a lot. Now, I'm working on other products."