Welwyn entrepreneur grandmother to pitch her invention on Channel Four’s ‘Buy It Now’

PUBLISHED: 16:00 29 April 2018

Councillr Bernard Sarson presents a cheque to Ann Chappell.

Councillr Bernard Sarson presents a cheque to Ann Chappell.


An innovator from Digswell who has patented a product to wash clothes on-the-go is one of the hopefuls on the new entrepreneurial TV show.

It was during a squabble with her husband for access to the bathroom sink at their home in Digswell that Ann Chappell had a brainwave that set her on the path to entrepreneurial success.

Wanting a convenient and space-saving way to hand wash clothes, the grandmother and homemaker decided to develop her first invention, Laundreeze, a portable clothes washing bag.

It’s popular with travellers and young parents who are squeezed for time and convenience - and Ann herself, who has used it to get her toddler grandchildren’s clothes spick and span when babysitting.

Now Ann, 62, is taking Laundreeze to the small screen by appearing on Channel Four’s “Buy It Now”.

The show, presented by Brian Conley, tests an entrepreneur’s mettle to both professional buyers and ordinary consumers alike in a 90-second pitch.

If audience members like your product after they’ve learned the price, professional buyers get their say - and if they like the product, you can get a lucrative meeting with them.

“I felt very nervous and I think now, having seen the show, I would have felt even more nervous,” said Ann.

You’ll have to watch to find out how much support her product gained on the show, but it’s getting the thumbs up in the marketplace both in the UK and the USA.

Laundreeze has come to market through a flurry of home-grown support.

Last July, Ann was one of eight entrepreneurs awarded a small grant by Welwyn Hatfield Council.

READ MORE: £7,435 boost for small Welwyn Hatfield businesses

She sings the praises of business support programme Innovate 2 Succeed, and the Herts Growth Hub, which are both run by Hatfield advisory service Exemplas.

Ann moved to the UK from Louisiana, USA, in 1996, before marrying a British man and settling in Welwyn.

Having had careers both in and out of the home, she was not in the least bit daunted by starting a new career in her sixties.

“Experience is great - no matter how smart you are, the more experience you have, the better,” said Ann.

“You never know where a good idea is going to come from.”

It’s a mindset that is leading her to develop the patents for several new products on the way.

Her advice to budding inventors is to keep a sharp eye out for problems that need solving.

“If you see somebody struggling with something, you often think ‘well, maybe there can be a better way to do that.”

Buy It Now airs daily at 5.30pm on Channel Four, with the date of Ann’s episode to be announced.

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