Inventor hits right buttons with easy-on duvet cover

Rob Waugh

A WOMAN from Yorkshire could be set to make a fortune with an invention which solves one of life’s most frustrating domestic chores – a duvet cover that opens on three sides.

Joyce Burt, from Moortown, Leeds, was living on the breadline when she came up with the simple design of sewing buttons on to three sides instead of the traditional single side.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

She spent her last 15 on some fabric to test her idea, which also features a pocket which holds the duvet in place.

Her friends loved the concept so much she patented the design and launched her own company, Quande Duvet Covers, which has sold hundreds online and in local stores.

Now, she has started talks with major retailers – including Matalan – about the simple invention.

Ms Burt, a 43-year-old single mother, said: “Like all good ideas, it was borne out of frustration. I was battling with my duvet in the washing machine and, as always, all my socks and clothes had become stuck in the cover. After a quick online search, I realised there were loads of people out there complaining on forums that they struggled to put their cover on.”

Kenyan-born Ms Burt worked in London as a personal assistant for nine years before moving to Leeds in 2002. She struggled to find a job, despite countless interviews, and ended up a cleaner with Starbucks and as a secretary before she was eventually forced to claim benefits.

“I was so embarrassed I would go into the jobseekers’ office and check that no-one saw me entering,” she added.

“I literally had no choice, I was on the breadline and had a young son to look after – who was also struggling to find work – I had no choice. It was a very dark time in my life and I was so desperate to find something, anything, to pay my way.

“Most of my customers have told me it’s changed their lives. They’re amazed that something so simple hasn’t been designed before,” she said. “The general consensus seems to be that something which is an every-day problem for so many people can be solved so easily.”

She turned to a local scheme, called Urbanbiz, which helps entrepreneurs get their products on the market, and sold more than 50 for 35 each on a market stall in Leeds – and since then the simple idea has taken off .

“I have had talks with Matalan and a very reputable online shopping channel who both say they want to stock them next year. At the moment, I am hand-making all of them but hope to mass-produce them in India or China for a fraction of the cost later this year,” she added.