South Park Magazine

Snapshot: Lily Winnail

Lily Winnail holds an infant car carrier customized with her invention, a padded cushion she calls the Padalily. Her test team -  Blake, 4, Annaliese, 9 (back, left) and Emmaline, 7, helped in the development.
Lily Winnail holds an infant car carrier customized with her invention, a padded cushion she calls the Padalily. Her test team - Blake, 4, Annaliese, 9 (back, left) and Emmaline, 7, helped in the development. GARY O'BRIEN

Lily Winnail, a 37-year-old mom from Waxhaw, got tired of the pain she felt in her arm from carrying infant seats when her three children were small. So she invented the Padalily, a velcro cushion that wraps around the seat handle, making it more comfortable to carry. It’s now sold online (www.padalily.com) and in specialty shops in the Charlotte area through her company, Lily’s Loving Arms.

As a child I was quite the entrepreneur. I collected beer bottles on the side of the road and exchanged them for cash at the corner store. Then I bought candy that I sold at my own roadside stand. I also remember putting up a big sign that said, “Free Dance Performance – All Are Welcome” and a small sign that read, “Gratuities Gratefully Accepted.”

I invented the Padilily because I was at the post office with my son in his car seat, and the handle was digging into my arm. As I juggled the car seat, my packages and my girls’ needs, I knew that the ever-increasing pain in my arm needed a solution. I went home that day, sewed a prototype with scrap fabric and took apart a pillow for stuffing. Then I did the research, pursued patenting and made more for other mothers to try. I’m now selling more than 12,000 Padililys a year.

Moms make good inventors because they have so much multi-tasking to do that they’re always looking for ways to make life easier, simpler or better.

My hobbies include playing the piano, writing poetry, decorating our home, painting furniture and traveling around the world. I used to be a flight attendant and went everywhere. Now I’m content with short, spontaneous mountain or beach trips. I also love crafting. My friend and I just made little felt flower pins for our fall coats and sweaters.

My favorite book is “Anne of Green Gables.” Here was an orphan girl who talked too much, had a big imagination, was smart and had a lot of spunk. She was given a second chance at life when she was adopted by the Cuthberts. Life was so full at Green Gables, every chapter was overflowing with real yet adventurous tales of Anne’s life. I can relate to Anne’s quest for kindred spirits, a full life and for truth. One of her signature lines was, “The truth shall set you free.” My girls love Anne just as much as I did.

My favorite childhood memory is when my dad would take me flying over our homestead in Canada, where I was born. He had his pilot’s license, and he’d rent a little Cessna. We would throw candy bars out the window for my siblings, waving wildly below. When I got older, he taught me how to fly. I was a ball of nerves, but felt so empowered.

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