Thought that some products have some many variations that a new invention can’t make it. Not true.
Homewood resident Seth Griffin lives right across from Homewood Central Park, so he loves hanging out there with his dog. But if you ever see them out there, you might have questions about the dog’s leash.
Griffin and his friend Foster Phillips — who also lives in Homewood — are co-founders of a new startup called Hitch Leash. They make and sell a retractable leash with a carabiner handle that allows dog owners to hitch their dogs to almost anything, such as chair legs, tables, tree branches and more.
Griffin got the idea for the new leash when he was hanging outside with his then 6-month-old puppy. He tied the retractable leash to a railing so that she could enjoy the retractability of the leash without getting away.
“I thought, ‘It’s a shame you can’t clip the handle to anything like that,’” he said. “So I went on Amazon and Google and searched for a carabiner retractable leash, assuming there was already one out there, so I could get one for myself. It didn’t exist.”
His first thought was to call Phillips, with whom he previously worked at Luckie & Company. When they worked together, they often brainstormed and solved problems together, Griffin said. With Phillips’ background in industrial design, Griffin knew Phillips could help him turn this into a “tangible output.”
For the next few months, the pair went back and forth on sketching out the future hitch leash and figuring out the best way to solve the problem.
“You start dreaming a little bit,” Phillips said about the process. “You’ve got a picture in your head that wants to start to come out when people talk about ideas.”
One thing Phillips liked about the idea from the beginning was that it was so straightforward, he said.
“This is one of those things where you think, ‘This has to already exist,’” he said. “Seth was ready to go out and buy it. Some of those best ideas are like that.”
They knew they wanted the leash to be comfortable. They also had to decide how big the leash should be, and they decided to focus on its ability to clip to small things, like to the legs of a park bench and to a hand railing. They went through multiple iterations of the leash and then got their first working prototype in January 2020. The product launched on Kickstarter in late October.
“It’s extremely gratifying and exciting,” Griffin said. “It’s one thing to have it in your hand, because we’ve thought about it for so long. But we brought the prototypes to Do Dah Day at Cahaba Brewing Co., and you get kind of nervous and you start to think, ‘Is this only a good idea in my head? Are other people going to like it, too?’ But to see all of the positive feedback there was really great.”
For more information, visit hitchleash.com.