PEMBROKE — In a multi-media event last week, Pembroke entrepreneur-turned-inventor Donna Lowry revealed the Octahelper, her patented, eight-armed, all-purpose helper.
More than 100 people attended Lowry’s “reveal” Wednesday in the sanctuary of the Mt. Olive Pentecostal Holiness Church as Lowry pulled back the curtain with considerable fanfare. The event featured speaking parts for three politicians, two preachers and one candidate, a movie-trailer video and two commercials.
At approximately 18 inches tall with eight shiny black arms, the Octahelper can hold almost any object, hang it up, stand it up and join it to other objects. Lowry said she has obtained a patent for the invention, which has been kept under wraps. It’s affordable too, she said.
“It’s a strong, flexible tool that can be shaped to hold one or many objects,” Lowry said. “Sometimes, two hands are not enough. You’ll want several of them.”
The public can obtain an Octahelper for a “pledge” of $26 through kickstarter.com. Some percentage of the investment will go to Hurricane Matthew relief, Lowry said.
Lowry, who is a registered nurse and a UNC Pembroke graduate, founded Caring Touch Home Health Care, which grew to employ as many 500 at one point. Accolades poured forth for the inventor.
“Donna’s so busy, she needs eight extra hands,” said said the Rev. Vee Oxendine, associate pastor of Mt. Olive Church.
“Ideas like this grow jobs,” said Angelica McIntyre, a candidate for District Court judge.
“Donna is a very, very, very persistent lady,” said Greg Cummings, Pembroke’s mayor and Robeson County’s director of economic development. “She told me, ‘I’ve got a chance to create jobs for our people.’”
“Let’s call this the miracle at 610 Normal St.,” said county Commissioner Raymond Cummings, referring to the address of Mt. Olive Church. “Donna is a woman who always gives back to her community. Some people pull you down, and some, like Donna, build you up.”
Lowry said she got the idea from pipe cleaners, those fuzzy, flexible wires. She also credited a family history of entrepreneurship.
At this stage in its development, Lowry said she will utilize space in her office building for warehousing and shipping. Manufacturing of the product may come to Robeson County in the future, she said.
In choosing Kickstarter as a marketing tool, Lowry is joining an online fundraising platform that advertises itself as bringing creative ideas to life. Because it is a fundraising tool, an Octahelper comes with a pledge rather than a purchase.
In its ninth year, Kickstarter has raised $3.3 billion toward more than 125,000 projects. Participants in the Octahelper project may start with a $26 pledge, or pay more for greater benefits.