A skint single mum is set to make a fortune with an invention which solves one of the most frustrating domestic chores – a duvet cover which opens on three sides.
Canny Joyce Burt, 43, was living on the breadline when she came up with the simple design of sewing buttons on to three sides instead of the traditional one.
She spent her last £15 on some fabric to test her idea, which also features a pocket which holds the duvet in place.
Her friends loved them so much she patented the design and launched her own company, Quande Duvet Covers, which has sold hundreds online and in local stores.
But the simple invention is now set to make her a fortune after she entered talks with major high street retailers, including Matalan.
Mum-of-one Joyce, who lives in Moortown, Leeds, with son Chris, 21, said: ”Like all good ideas, it was borne out of frustration.
”I was battling with my duvet in the washing machine and, as always, all my socks and clothes had become stuck in the cover.
”After a quick online search, I realised there were loads of people out there complaining on forums that they struggled to put their cover on.”
Kenyan-born Joyce worked in London as a personal assistant for nine years before moving to Leeds in 2002.
She struggled to find a job despite countless interviews as a cleaner, in Starbucks and a secretary and was eventually forced to claim benefits.
”I was so embarrassed I would go into the job seekers office and check that no-one saw me entering,” she added.
”I literally had no choice, I was on the breadline and had a young son to look after – who was also struggling to find work – I had no choice.
”It was a very dark time in my life and I was so desperate to find something, anything to pay my way.”
Joyce spent her last £15 on a roll of fabric and made three covers, which were bought by friends.
She said: ”Most of my customers have told me it’s changed their lives. They’re amazed that something so simple hasn’t been designed before.
”The general consensus seems to be that something which is an every-day problem for so many people can be solved so easily.”
She turned to a local scheme, called Urbanbiz, which helps entrepreneurs get their product on the market, and sold over 50 for £35 each on a market stall in Leeds.
Since then she has sold hundreds online and at local outlets but the company is set to boom with interest from big chain stores.
Joyce added: ”I have had talks with Matalan and a very reputable online shopping channel who both say they want to stock them next year.
”At the moment, I am hand-making all of them but hope to mass-produce them in India or China for a fraction of the cost later this year.”