Vidalia natives invention gets TV exposure

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

VIDALIA &8212; In 1998, Delaine Cooper Self was a single mother, working long hours and trying to find a way, any way, to make things a little better.

And then an idea struck her as she was going to the pool to get a little sun.

&8220;I was walking out with my radio, my lotion, my sunglassess, and all the stuff just tumbled out of my hands,&8221; Self said. &8220;And it hit me. It was like a video in my head and I saw what I needed to do.&8221;

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Thus was born the Tannin Companion, a lounge chair cover made from terry cloth material. It has pockets along the side to hold supplies and has patented features that hold it in place on the lounge chair. Self holds two patents for the design of the product.

Self grew up in Vidalia before moving to Austin, Texas, after high school. She currently resides in Washington, D.C., though she is frequently back in the Miss-Lou to see family.

To make the first prototype, Self said she went back to what she had learned in home economics class at Vidalia High.

&8220;I took a washcloth and cut and sewed with my needle and thread because I didn&8217;t even have a sewing machine,&8221; Self said.

But to get the idea rolling, Self needed help. Her father, Don Cooper, a longtime minister in the Miss-Lou, suggested the Macon Ridge Economic Development. &8220;My dad said, &8216;You need to come here and see what Macon Ridge can do for you,&8217;&8221; Self said.

In 2000, Macon Ridge vice president Patrick Landers worked with Self to make a Web site &8212; &8212;

to help market and promote the product.

And that ultimately led to what Self hopes will be her big break. The Tannin Companion will be featured Sunday on and episode Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

&8220;They called me one day out of the blue and said they had found my Web site,&8221; Self said. &8220;They asked if I would be willing to donate my product to the Tom family for the show.&8221;

With a chance to get her product shown on national television to the show&8217;s 19 million viewers, she agreed immediately.

The chance couldn&8217;t have come at a better time. After using most of her marketing budget with a consultant who used it all on TV commercials that didn&8217;t help much, the virtually free advertising is more than welcome.

&8220;It seemed like every time I got a break something would drag me back down,&8221; Self said. &8220;My husband said to me, &8216;I&8217;ve been praying that something will give us national exposure.&8217; That night we got the call.&8221;

About 100 products a month are sold right now, but Self said she hopes to keep growing, particularly with

The product is made of high quality material and is available in nine colors. The purchase price is $39 &8212; shipping included &8212; with monogramming available for a $12 charge.

Tannin Companions are actually constructed by Jeanette and Huey Simmons of Crowville, La. Self does the banking for her company at Concordia Bank.

&8220;I&8217;m trying to keep everything I possibly can in Louisiana to help people here,&8221; Self said.