Snow play sparks kids’ gloves invention

By: Gloria Young, Journal staff writer
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An Auburn mom who grew frustrated with trying to keep mittens on her young son decided she could create something better. “We love the snow,” Kathy Partak said Tuesday. “We’re outdoorsy people and we wanted to introduce the things we love to our son, Mason. When he was 2 or 3, we would go to Truckee. He wouldn’t wear his mittens. He’d take them off and his hands would get cold.” So Partak sat down at her kitchen table and started creating a design. “Manufacturers make gloves for children the same way they make gloves for adults,” she explained. “But children’s hands are different. In a typical glove, if the thumbs fit into the hole, the fingers won’t fit into the fingers.” It took about a year to patent her invention, secure a manufacturer and get the idea translated into an actual product. The manufacturer she found, located in Wisconsin, was so pleased with the glove idea, officials took over completion of research and development and chose the materials, Partak said. The gloves are made of nylon with a fleece lining. There’s a fleece nose wipe on the forefinger. The main feature is a zipper that allows the glove to be totally opened, making it easier to fit onto a child’s hand, she said. “The gloves also have a safety feature,” Partak said. “Because they really fit and children’s fingers go all the way to the end, if child gets a hand caught in a rope tow or other device, the hand will come out of the glove because the gloves don’t cinch at the wrist.” The first shipment, produced in March, was for children ages 3 to 6. Next season, the size range will expand to include gloves for children ages 7 to 11. “Actually I’d like to do a full line of gloves for all ages in 2011,” Partak said. Kathy and her husband, Dave Partak, sell the ZipperBack gloves through their Web site, They ended up selling most of their inventory at their first trade show appearance recently in Las Vegas. A new shipment is arriving around Thanksgiving. Locally, the gloves will soon be available at Kids Closet in Downtown Auburn and at Snow Mountain on Bowman Road. Cost is $24.99 a pair. Currently they’re only available in black. But, next year, the gloves will be made in other colors as well, she said. Ed Gates, owner of Snow Mountain, offered ideas during Partak’s development of the glove and is looking forward to carrying them in the store. “She’s the first one who even thought about it,” he said. “She came up with something totally new. Now they have the finished product and she’s selling them faster than they can make them.” Gloria Young can be reached at