Profile – Meet Barbro Holmström, the innovator of the month

By on June 21, 2019
Barbro Holmström is the innovator behind the tear pipe - holder for household paper.

If you do not want to sacrifice bench surface or wall surface for the household paper, what do you do then? Barbro Holmström’s smart solution is the “Tear Pipe” that hides the paper roll in the kitchen cabinet!

Barbro Holmström is a sports teacher with a great interest in sea life and the archipelago. She lives on Lidingö outside Stockholm and has been retired for a while.

– I have always been interested in neat things, says Barbro. My sister usually says “We make a Barbro”. This means that one then finds a different way to solve a problem – not often then unconventional but smart solutions are in place.

New kitchen but no place for the paper
Everything started when the kitchen was renovated. When the new kitchen was finished, Barbro realized that there was no place for the household paper. Barbro would not sacrifice the floor or wall surface to the paper, and then only one thing remained – to incorporate it into a cupboard.

But how?

After a little thought, Barbro took out a simple prototype of a plastic pipe and drilled holes in the bottom of one of the newly installed upper cabinets. Then she tested until she got the right length on the pipe, the right amount of tags etc. It took a while but then it was clear to Barbro what worked best.

– Actually, it was surprisingly easy to come up with the idea. The challenge was to avoid complicating the product, but to maintain simplicity. It is just the simplicity that makes the Tear Pipe so good – no loose parts and super easy mounting. I was eagerly encouraged by my surroundings and those who tested the “tear pipe” in our kitchen immediately wanted their own, says Barbro.

A good tip along the way Barbro got from the SUF, the Swedish Inventory Society. There it was found that the Tear Pipe needed a collar at the top to prevent it from going straight through the drilled hole. A problem that was fixed immediately.

Barbro’s smart solution hides the paper roll in the kitchen cabinet, and saves both the bench surface and the wall surface.

Dinner with friends lead to manufacturers
Another challenge was to find a manufacturer to cooperate with to convert the prototype into a finished product. Here Barbro had some luck – on a dinner she talked to a person who in turn had contact with the owner of a mechanical workshop in Stockholm.

– The next day I called the owner of the workshop, says Barbro. I told about my invention and that we have come a long way with our “prototyping”, he thought it seemed exciting and on that way it is. That conversation really went very well and we decided to start the collaboration at once.

With the help of the family, Barbro has been able to launch a website where she markets and sells the “Tear Pipe“. Thanks to that, the project took a big step forward.

– We have collaborated within the family and gained a good routine of handling orders, says Barbro. Nowadays, it works almost “automatically” from ordering to the dispatch on the mail.

Educational to be forced to challenge oneself

Barbro can certify that the “Tear Pipe” is appreciated, it can be found in 4,000 different locations today. In kitchens, recreational boats, preschools, Lidingö Town Hall, workshops, boat clubs, retirement homes, etc. An article in a Norwegian boat magazine gave a positive response and resulted in many customers in Norway!

What Barbro thinks she learned on the road is that the invention itself was not so difficult, what really challenged was to sell itself and the invention.

The work to develop the Tear Pipe is one of the most educational things I have done because it forced me outside my own “comfort zone”, says Barbro. On the way, I have also come to know so many talented and wonderful people with whom I have been able to exchange ideas, experiences and many happy laughter!

Interested in the Tear Pipe – check it out here »

The Profile | Meet Barbro Holmström, the innovator of the month