Marlene Wyatt, inventor of the No Mess Dough Disc and top-selling vendor in QVC's "Quest for America's Best" contest, didn't realize she had a valuable product when she invented it 18 years ago. "I have two sons who just love chicken and dumplings, but I got tired of the mess all over my countertop [from making it]," remembers Wyatt, 39. "So one day, I just made [a disc]." The lightweight disc's polycotton cover keeps dough from sticking.
Wyatt didn't think anything more of it until Thanksgiving day in 1989 when her sister Syble Whitlock suggested she start selling it. So Wyatt and sisters Whitlock, 53, Pauline Dillard, 48, and niece Mona Elliott, 29, created Wood Family Enterprise in Yellville, Arkansas, and began selling the No Mess Dough Disc through a few local gourmet and kitchen appliance stores.
But it wasn't until the product was chosen as a winner in QVC's contest-and completely sold out on its first show-that it really began to get noticed. More than 230,000 units have been sold through QVC alone. The national exposure and surge in business increased the Dough Disc's retail sales so much, the company moved into a 5,000-square-foot facility.
The lesson to be learned? "If you're going to get into business, realize it's not going to happen overnight," says Wyatt. "You have to have a lot of perseverance."