Sharon Rabi, the creator of the Dafni ceramic hair-straightening brush, decided imitation wasn’t flattering.
In 2012, she embarked on what would become a five-year process of obtaining a patent for her tool that straightens hair while brushing. Her Dafni brush is said to significantly reduce the time it takes to style hair. That patent was issued in March and gives the company the power to pursue those who copy the technology. By some estimates, there have been as many as 75 mimics of her brush.
With that protection in place, Dafni is ready to grow. This month the company is rolling out Dafni Go, a portable and less expensive brush especially suited to shorter hair. Dafni Go is available online at target.com, ultabeauty.com, Amazon and Dafni’s own site and will be rolling out to select Target stores. Available in three colors — blue, purple and green — the brush retails for $99.99 (versus $149.99 for the original).
An engineer, Israel-based Rabi and her father created a prototype for the Dafni (named after her sister) brush after receiving a bad haircut. She sought a better way than the traditional tools on the market. “Women had been doing their hair the same way for centuries. There hadn’t been an innovation to the hair straightener,” explained Rabi.
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Their invention, they said, was able to curb styling time from 30 minutes to three minutes. Since there wasn’t anything like it on the market, Rabi had to explain how it worked with a demonstration she posted on Facebook that went viral and eventually logged more than 120 million views and two million shares.
One of the first merchants out of the gate was Dermstore.com, where it immediately sold out. “It was a tsunami of the good and the bad,” recalled Rabi of the success of Dafni. “We had Sephora, Wal-Mart and QVC calling. But we also had people copying us. It was an annoying compliment, like an illegal download of a movie.”
Copycats aren’t unusual in the beauty business. But getting a product patented is not an easy process and by some estimates, 70 percent of personal-care products do not hold a patent. But Rabi was insistent in the case of her brush because she said purchasing an inferior device can have serious consequences. “It isn’t like buying a fake handbag. You are applying this to your head and hair.” She said many of the mimics didn’t have plastics that can withstand high heat or the extra protection Dafni provides with a heat isolation panel (used by NASA and the U.S. Army) that is installed behind the ceramic plate to keep the back of the brush cool and safe to touch. Reviews of knockoffs also mentioned bristles coming out and other issues that left users dissatisfied.
With its patent in place, the company is not only rolling out Dafni Go, but also unleashing other innovations in the pipeline. “We read reviews from our original brush and we heard some women wanted options for shorter hair and that was one reason for Dafni Go,” she explained, adding other new items will serve consumer demands.