The Story of Higher Hangers

Photo of Drew Cleaver

I'm Drew Cleaver, founder and inventor of Higher Hangers.

Actual prototype created in my dorm room using pliers, lighter, and epoxy.

Hi, I’m Drew Cleaver

Founder & Inventor of Higher Hangers

I Came Up With Higher Hangers In My Dorm Room

Two months into my freshman year of college, I was trying to make my new home more organized and peaceful. My pre-depression built dorm (est. 1921) was about 139 square feet (shared with a roommate), so you can imagine my closet situation. It was crammed full with clothes squished between the upper and lower closet rods. The top clothes were overflowing onto the lower clothes, and the bottom row wrinkled up on the floor with no space for shoes or anything.

I took a step back to look into this swamp thing of a closet, and noticed a huge gap between my clothes and the closet rods. Why? I have no idea. Clothes hangers haven’t changed in their design since they were invented in the 1800s. With all the unused vertical space, I knew there was no practical reason for a clothes hanger hook to be 4-5” higher than the clothes, it was just the way it had always been. I knew there had to be a better way. I took an existing plastic clothes hanger, some pliers, and a lighter, and started hacking away…

The Evening I Invented Higher Hangers

Thankfully I didn’t set off any fire alarms. I realized that if I lowered the hook closer to the top of clothes, I could significantly raise the garment higher, freeing up more space below. After cutting an old hanger to pieces and using a lighter to melt the new design back together, I created the very first Higher Hangers prototype. I tried it, and it worked. My clothes no longer dragged along the ground, and I freed up enough space to move a dresser into the closet underneath the upper row of clothes. My first thought was, “Dang, what about collared shirts though?” It still worked flawlessly.

How Did Someone Not Think of This Already?

Redesigning the clothes hanger this way seemed like such an obvious solution to a common problem that I assumed someone had thought of it before, or there was an underlying flaw I hadn’t realized with my design due to inventor’s blinders (everyone invents the best thing ever and it’s perfect, nothing wrong at all!). When I couldn’t find another similar hanger, and never discovered the fatal “GOTCHA!” flaw, I started asking friends their thoughts, patent searching, and speaking with my Business Law Professor about my idea. Everyone gave me the “Why didn’t I think of that?” Having fully expected to be shot down, all of the feedback I received was remarkably positive so I applied for a patent. Expecting a long, complicated process, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted all patent claims on my first application, a rare occurrence, and awarded me patent 7,404,503 9-months after my application date-a record for my patent firm.

Now Is The Time

My senior year, my team and I won the undergrad D.W. Reynold’s Tri-State Business plan competition with Higher Hangers and were awarded nearly $40,000 in cash. In 2010 I won a product search competition hosted by a major housewares retailer, but they didn’t bring Higher Hangers to market because it was too risky to invest a few hundred thousand dollars in manufacturing tooling for a product that hadn’t changed in over 100 years (lol). After 6 years of technical sales in oil & gas, I left the corporate world to bring Higher Hangers to market myself.

I attended high school in Houston, TX and graduated from John Brown University in 2009 with a B.S. in Business Management. I have lived in Denver, Colorado since 2012 and enjoy cycling, skiing, hiking, fishing, and motorsport.

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