Feather King – Grabbit® Inventor


If given this challenge — “Name one sewing room tool or gadget you cannot live without?” — many of us would answer, “My GRABBIT®” . . .

The Grabbit® Magnetic Pin Cushion changed the way we sew.  It was THAT invention.  The minute you saw it, you said to yourself, “why didn’t I think of that?”

Feather King

Feather King

So  . . . who was the genius who invented the Grabbit®?

We can thank Feather King for bringing the Grabbit® to sewing rooms all around the world.  So, who is Feather King?  And what was her moment of magnetic-pin-cushion-inspiration?

Feather cannot remember NOT sewing.  When she was 9 years old, she asked her mother to buy a sewing machine so she could sew clothes for her 21” Madame Alexander doll.  She still has that doll with clothes styled for the fifties.

She graduated from Hampshire College with a design degree which has been put to use in jewelry making, house building, product design, and clothing design.

Feather King’s GRABBIT® Moment of Inspiration….

Feather with husband John.

Feather with husband John.

“In 1978, I was living in San Francisco.  My husband, John, was an attorney, and for the first time — I did not have to work.  I had a fabulous sewing room, and I loved being able to sew unusual clothing.  I always had a pile of pins on the ironing board and another pile near my sewing machine.  The pins would fall on the floor or always be in a location where I was not.  Picking them up one by one to move them was a pain.  I thought . . . THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY.  I remembered a game that had magnets in it.  I found the magnets, and I immediately knew a magnetic pin holder was a great idea.

San Francisco is a big city, so I had access to people and businesses.  There was a wonderful store that sold materials for theater props and sets.  They directed me to an old man, Ivan, who was a woodworker.  He created prototypes for anything that needed to be cast — in aluminum, brass, steel, or plastic.  He made a wooden ‘Grabbit®’ on a lathe with me right beside him.   I took the finished wooden top and bottom parts and created the first prototype Grabbits®.

Every pin & bobbin in its place . . . Every Grabbit® tool in its proper space!

Every pin & bobbin in its place . . .
Every Grabbit® tool in its proper space!

I found an injection molding company and we filed the patents.  It was helpful to be married to a lawyer!  In 1980, we incorporated and moved to Oregon.  Our property had three acres, a small home and a very nice chicken coop which became our assembly room.”

Distribution is critical for any new product.  In 1978 there were approximately 120 regional distributors in the United States — most of them family owned.  When they found something new they shared it with each other.  Feather sent the first Grabbit® to Lion Notions. They believed it would be a popular Christmas item.  That first year, 25,000 Grabbits® were sold.

Sales doubled the second year.  After five years they built a separate building to house Grabbit® products and they were manufacturing 275,000+ Grabbits® a year.

Feather says, “When I think about the lessons I learned from Grabbit® — I am struck by how hard small business people work.  I had no appreciation of the knowledge and energy required to run a successful business.  Becoming a small business owner raised my awareness and gratitude for the conscientious work of many suppliers who create a chain of abundance that benefits all of us.  Your success is related to the success of others . . . up and down the chain.  You should have respect for and responsibility to your suppliers, to your employees, and to your customers . . . .

My best advice for anybody who has a great idea for a new product is — DON’T BE AFRAID!   Take it one step at a time.  You will learn as you go. You do not have to know ahead of time where you are going.  There are good people all along the chain of abundance who will teach what you need to know, because your success will become their success.”