Inventor Helps Cure Common Parent Dilemma

May 4, 2005, 10:22PM
Former engineer develops, sells potty-training kits on the Internet

Chronicle Correspondent

Trying to potty train a child can frustrate even the most patient parents. Maybe that's why Narmin Parpia has been so successful.

Since 2003, Parpia has been trying to make parents' lives easier with her Potty Training in One Day system that has sold more than 1,500 units online over the past year.

"(Potty training) is a developmental skill like walking and talking and eating and all those other things, but those things are really natural and it's easy to teach those things," said Parpia, 44, a former chemical engineer who lives in Pearland with her husband, Raj, and their sons, Kevin, 10, and Ryan, 13.

"Potty training is harder to teach, and some parents really struggle with it."

Will be on television
Parpia's training system was featured in an April 25 special edition of Time magazine. She will appear on NBC's Today show on Mother's Day on Sunday.

"Some days I find (the success) amazing," Parpia said. "I'm an engineer by training and I've worked in refineries before, and now here I am selling potty dolls for a living."

Parpia said she got the idea to begin selling potty training systems after seeing a television program where parents were being taught to use dolls to train their children.

She had used a similar technique successfully on her sons.

"That was a great method, but the challenges I found at the time were finding all the supplies and getting all the supplies together," Parpia said.

So Parpia spent the next six months dissecting and rearranging countless dolls that she bought, trying to create the perfect prototype.

When she did, she put it up for auction on eBay.

It sold two days later.

Sales are increasing
She had more made and began selling the potty dolls online at her own Web site, They cost $89.95.

"It started up slow and I would get excited when we got 10 sales a week. Now, it's not uncommon to get 10 sales a day," she said.

Along with the doll, the kits include a potty chair, a potty seat, diapers and other accessories. She also includes books that incorporate feedback she has received from customers.

After attending the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Parpia has worked with synthetic crude oil and the natural gas industry in Canada and then came to the United States to work in e-business development. Her husband is a mechanical engineer for Lyondell Chemical Co.

Parpia said she likes selling the dolls.

"What thrills me about this is when I get e-mails from parents. That makes me feel the product worked and it made me feel like I was making a difference and there was a need for this product on the market," Parpia said.

Sitting pretty
James and Deborah Kingsmill of Baytown bought one of Parpia's potty-training kits for their son Jacob.

Six months ago, the Kingsmills had tried and failed to potty train their son before they found Parpia's Web site.

"I said, 'Yeah right, we can't even get him to sit on the potty,' " James Kingsmill said. "It was a long one day, but by the end of the day, he was going on the potty."

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