Ember Gloves takes on Heat
Entrepreneur students with a variety of expertise lend a creative hand to bring thermodynamics to apparel
Morgan Morrisroe’s hands are always cold.
“Since I was little, my hands would lose mobility whenever I was cold,” Morrisroe said. Twenty percent of adults worldwide have Raynaud’s Syndrome. It occurs when people lose circulation in their extremities because the body’s core temperature is too low.
Morrisroe, ’19 College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), of Homedale began exploring apparel technologies to warm their hands and regain fine motor skills lost in their fingers as a result of Raynaud’s. Morrisroe also started re-thinking the overall designs of traditional hand-warming products and from that, Ember Gloves developed.
“The original Ember Gloves was a mitten that used a unique wrapping system I designed to secure the glove on my hand,” Morrisroe said. “With Raynaud’s, it was often hard and painful to pull my hands in and out of gloves. The mitten’s wrapping design made it easy and comfortable to use.”
There is no cure for Raynaud’s Syndrome, but Morrisroe created a novel, inexpensive and easily reproducible product to relieve its side effects. Soon they were thinking about others with this shared medical condition and how Ember Gloves might benefit them. Lori Wahl, senior instructor in CALS, suggested Morrisroe take the mittens’ unique wrapping design and desire to help others with Raynaud’s to an entrepreneurship course in the College of Business and Economics (CBE).
Engineering Introduces Apparel to Thermodynamics
The transition from mittens to gloves took place as students with a variety of expertise worked as a team. Dwain Stucker, ’20 College of Engineering, of Meridian proposed heating the mitten with thermistors and micro-controllers. These elements have a long battery life, allow for temperature regulation and eliminate risks for overheating.
“While thermodynamics isn’t my area of expertise, I could see how incorporating the elements Stucker was suggesting could eliminate extra bulk,” Morrisroe said. “Unlike my original mitten design, the current prototype uses thin textiles. The thinner material, even with the added heating components, allows for a flexible glove you can wear while doing just about anything.”
Morrisroe and Stucker’s collaboration allowed Ember Gloves to become a unique, marketable product ideal for pitch competitions associated with entrepreneurship courses. These fast-paced events give students the opportunity to pitch their product to business leaders and investors while competing for cash prizes. To help Ember Gloves qualify for the pitch events, Nicole DeHoog, ’19 CALS, of Parma brought her business skills to the team.
“I worked with the team to create a financial model and business plan using my business knowledge and experience,” DeHoog said. “Each team member brought different specialties to the project, including Talor Sheldon of Ashton, a studio art and design student in the College of Art and Architecture. She was our creative designer and took the lead on videos and pictures for one-on-one and group presentations.”
Experiencing a Breakthrough Moment
While the design, financial and business models and marketing pieces were coming together, Morrisroe was discovering first-hand that anyone can be a good entrepreneur.
“Our team was made up of individuals with no entrepreneurship experience, a lack of confidence and one idea,” Morrisroe said. “Struggling at first, it only took us working together with the goal of creating something to help make life better for people. We were starting to achieve more than any of us aspired for individually while working to get Ember Gloves ready for the pitch competitions.”
With collaboration among entrepreneurship students from different disciplines, Ember Gloves became a product with the ability to go beyond an original idea.Morgan Morrisroe
Maggie Zee of Alamo, California, an apparel, textiles and design student in CALS, joined Morrisroe for Boise Startup Week’s pitch competition.
“I was going to Boise for Startup Week and saw Ember Gloves as an opportunity to get a crash course in entrepreneurship.” Zee said. “We rehearsed our pitch beforehand, but it really came together while competing. Morgan and I fed off each other’s energy, made corrections based on feedback from judges and, after a few pitches, had a fine-tuned script winning Ember Gloves top ratings.”
Following startup week, Sheldon joined Morrisroe to score another top win for Ember Gloves during CBE’s Idaho Pitch at U of I.
Going Beyond an Original Idea
Ember Gloves’ original target market, consumers with Raynaud’s Syndrome, was pitched at each competition. To Morrisroe’s surprise, potential uses for the product were expanded on by almost every judge.
“Pitching taught me how our ideas are viewed through different peoples’ lenses. Judges told me they could imagine Ember Gloves being used by the timber industry, across the military, on farms and for tailgating during football season,” Morrisroe said. “Surrounded by entrepreneurship students from different disciplines created a well-rounded product with the ability to go beyond an original idea.”
Morrisroe and the entire Ember Gloves team feel the whole entrepreneurial process around this product has rounded out and brought each of their educations full circle.
“As a designer, I learned how to consider all aspects of a business and why it’s important to think about each of them from start to finish,” Morrisroe said. “Knowing what matters to the consumer, designer, producer, investor and marketer is the key to finding what works best for everyone while taking an idea and making it thrive.”
Morrisroe is currently designing an alternative to Ember Gloves using input from pitch competitions and the same unique wrapping design, but with less technology. This variation on the glove allows Morrisroe to construct them independently while incorporating additional features.
Article by Ross Wulf, College of Business and Economics.
Published in May 2020