CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - They creep us out, and in the Queen City, also known as "Bed-Bug Capital USA," you've got to block them or get bitten by them, it's that simple.
So, Marshell Belser declared war on bedbugs with her sewing machine. "On my job, someone came to work with bedbugs," she said.
Belser didn't want to put her things back in her locker, fearing those critters might come home with her. That was Thanksgiving last year, on a Friday. "And I came in with this idea on Monday," she said. "And now you're a millionaire," we joked.
"That would be lovely," she laughed.
Her invention is called "Locker Liners."
"Say you go to a gym," she said. "And it's very dirty or you go to the school, it's not so desirable, just put the locker liner in there."
"This goes in very easily," she explained as she quickly inserted the liner into a school locker.
"It also goes around the hooks in the locker," she said. "So that's it, it only takes seconds to install."
"Magnets hold it all together and that's it," she proudly exclaimed, as she popped the liner into place in a matter of seconds.
And when you use a "Locker Liner," you never want to get caught with the zipper down.
"Once you zip it all the way up, you don't have to worry about anything getting in," Belser said.
Even if you're a sloppy zipper, Belser's invention has you covered.
"And if you do not zip it all the way up," she said. "If you leave it down a little, there's a little pocket there, nothing still can get in."
There's even a separate pocket for your cell phone to keep it protected as well.
"It's not only for bugs, it's also for cleanliness," she said. "If you go in a gym locker, sometimes your clothes smell a little but, funky when you come out of there, so you can put your items in and you don't have to worry about it."
"Bedbugs travel from locker to locker," she said.
And can survive without eating anything for 18 months or more.
"Items just hang on the hooks on the inside," she said as she placed several items inside the locker liner. "That's that. And you can put your shoes in the bottom."
Belser worked as a designer for more than 15 years and her training is paying off.
"And I always liked to sew," she said. "So I just came up with this idea, I just made a box and went with that." She patented her idea and was off the races and she does it all in-heels.
Marshell got her sewing start right in a bedroom in her own house and for orders 25 or under, she still sews them all by hand.
But, in just a year her company has grown so big, she's now got a manufacturing company right here in Cincinnati making all of her big orders for her.
She developed the pattern. "And I actually have a pattern that I made myself, that I go by, " she said. "And lay it all out here in the floor."
"It takes me about a couple of hours to make one," Belser said. "It depends on the size." The locker liners come in 41 different sizes. Belser uses a surge machine, to finish the ends of the nylon-like fabric, to keep the material from unraveling.
There are eight different colors, or one that comes with a clear window option, so you can see the contents at all times. She's been sewing since her 7th grade home-economics class.
"Kids don't even go through home-ec anymore," Belser lamented. "They should and this is the reason why." She was inspired by her grandmother to learn the craft of sewing. "Locker Liners" are durable. You can throw them in the washer. "I tell people, would you like to spend a couple hundred dollars trying to get bedbugs out of your home? Or would you like to spend 30 dollars on something that you can use?" she said.
She launched on the idea March 30, 2010. "March 31st, I had my first order from San Jose, California," Belser said. Local bug zappers we spoke with said Marshell and her idea is the "real deal".
"She contacted us," said Tami Burkel with Valley Termite and Pest Control. "We told her we thought it was a wonderful idea."
"They took a look at my item and they said it was great for the way I had it," Belser said. "So yes, they are backing me 100-percent."
Burkel said bed bugs are a huge problem in schools, especially because of their ability to withstand extreme conditions.
"They can lay dormant for a very long time," Burkel said. Bedbugs can hide in books, clothing, almost anything. "They can hide in the cracks and the crevices inside the lockers," Burkel said.
"They're very small, the eggs are about the size of a grain of salt and they're also the color of salt, so they're clear or white, then as they get a blood meal, they grow and get bigger," Burkel said.
You read that right. Burkel said, once they get a blood meal off of you, that's what gives them their reddish-brown coloring as they mature.
"It has to be a fiber that bed bugs cannot get in-between the woven fibers of," Burkel said. "That they cannot bite through also."
"And they think it's going to hit like hotcakes once I get the first big sale," Belser beamed proudly.
And whether it's in the Queen City, or any city in the world batting bed bugs, this self-proclaimed bed-bug blocker, is ready to line your locker.
"You could be retiring soon!" we joked.
"Yes," she giggled. "That would be good!"
"I am the locker liner queen," she laughed.
If you'd like to read more about Marshell Belser's "Locker Liners," just click on this link:
www.lockerlinerproductsllc.com or call 513-841-0460.
Valley Termite and Pest Control is also the only exterminator in the Tri-State that uses a special gas to fumigate your entire home, so you don't have to get rid of all of your possessions, if you've been infested with bed bugs. You can read more about them at:
http://www.valleytermiteandpest.com/ or call 513-761-9922