David O Russell's latest film tells the story of taking a simple idea and making it brilliant. Here are some more women who've made their mark on the world

Joy, the latest film from David O Russell, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, is released on 1 January. The story of a single mother and her dysfunctional clan, Joy centres around its eponymous heroine, based on real-life inventor and matriarch Joy Mangano.

Mangano’s first invention was a fluorescent pet collar, conceived while she worked at an animal hospital as a teenager and realised most injuries were caused by cars at night. Years later, as a housewife and mum of three, Joy created the self-wringing Miracle Mop. “I was just tired of bending down, putting my hands in dirty water, wringing out a mop. I said there’s gotta be a better way.”

Joy pitched her idea to the Home Shopping Network, and it sold and sold. “I think my products have been successful because they have mass appeal,” she says. “I’m just like everybody else out there. I’m a mom, I work, I have a house to clean, things to organise. Some people thought I was crazy. They said: ‘A mop is a mop is a mop’. But I knew that wasn’t the case.”

Here are some more tenacious women who took a simple idea and made it a big success...

Lillian Gilbreth – the foot pedal bin
Mother-of-12 Lillian Gilbreth invented the foot pedal bin to dispose of her never-ending household rubbish without spreading germs. Working with her husband Frank, Gilbreth took a scientific approach to household problems, recording simple tasks on film and watching over and over again to see how they could be improved. Her other simple yet successful inventions include the electric food mixer and refrigerator door shelves.

Inventor Lillian Gilbreth Credit: Corbis

Mary Phelps Jacob – brassiere
In 1910, fed up of stuffing herself into uncomfortably stiff corsets, American socialite Mary Phelps Jacob sewed two silk handkerchiefs together using pink ribbon and cord. The brassiere was born, and soon requests were pouring in from family, friends and strangers, all drawn to the soft and light comfort of Jacob’s invention, which she later named the “Caresse Crosby”. Demand soared during the First World War, when the US government asked women to stop buying corsets to conserve metal. Since then, we’ve never looked back. Jacob’s simple solution revolutionised clothing and comfort for millions of women.

Any early sketch of the brassiere Credit: Getty

Mary Anderson – windscreen wipers
In 1903, property developer Mary Anderson patented her car-window cleaning device. During a sightseeing trip to New York, Anderson struggled to see the landmarks from the trolley car in which she was travelling. Worse, she realised drivers were unable to watch where they were going, forcing them to open their windows even in snow. Anderson created a swinging arm device with a rubber blade, controlled from a lever within the vehicle by the driver. By the Twenties, these “windshield wipers” were standard on most cars.

Marion Donovan – disposable nappies
Connecticut housewife Marion Donovan was fed up of changing nappies, bed sheets and clothing, so crafted a nappy cover out of a shower curtain to keep her baby dry. Unlike existing rubber covers, Donovan’s creation did not cause nappy rash or pinching and was a success from its market debut in 1949. Donovan next created a fully disposable nappy, using a special type of absorbent paper. In 1961, Pampers was born, and laundry was transformed.

Bette Nesmith – Liquid Paper
In the Fifties, single mother, secretary and hobbyist painter Bette Nesmith noticed how commercial artists simply painted over their errors, and started using quick-drying paint to cover her typing mistakes. From this simple idea, Mistake Out – later known as Liquid Paper – was born. In 1979 she sold the company to Gillette for $47.5million.

Sara Blakely – Spanx
Working in door-to-door sales, 20-something Sara Blakely struggled with nylon tights in the Florida heat. One day she snipped the legs off to keep the body contouring effect – and the prototype for Spanx control pants was born. Blakely’s fresh approach was a boon to her creativity - she was the first to test hosiery products on people, and changed the way a male-run industry approached design and innovation. Today, Spanx is a billion-dollar product, born of Blakely’s modest $5,000 investment.

Sarah Blakely revolutionised the lingerie world Credit: Getty

Leah Busque – TaskRabbit
In 2008, software engineer Leah Busque was getting ready to go out with her husband when they realised they were out of dog food: “I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if there was somewhere online where we could go, name what we were after and what price we were willing to pay, and someone in our neighbourhood could help us out.” TaskRabbit (taskrabbit.co.uk) was born, and today Busque’s eBay-for-errands has 30,000 taskers, or freelancers, who help people be their most productive everyday.

Mandy Haberman – the Anyway Cup
British mum Mandy Haberman (mandyhaberman.com) became an inventor after her third child, Emily, was born with Stickler syndrome and had major feeding difficulties. Haberman created a new feeding system for Emily, described by medics as “a significant advance” The Haberman® Feeder has been used and recommended by hospitals worldwide for over 30 years. Later, Haberman watched a friend’s toddler streak juice across a cream carpet, and created the Anywayup® Cup – a non-spill toddler cup. It was a phenomenal success. 40-60 million cups are still sold every year using Haberman's patented technology. Since then, she has launched the Haberman Suckle Feeder - designed to complement breastfeeding and to provide a better alternative for those who bottle-feed - which has won numerous awards.

Mum and inventor Mandy Haberman

Emily Cummins – the sustainable refrigerator
Brit Emily Cummins (emilycummins.co.uk) has been inventing since she was four years old, driven by a desire to make things better for people who are struggling. Her inventions include a water-carrying device and a toothpaste dispenser, created while she was at school, for her arthritis-suffering granddad. At just 19, Cummins was named Female Innovator of the Year for her ingenious sustainable refrigerator, which is powered by dirty water and enables people in hot climates to keep medicines and food cool when electric refrigerators are not an option.

Lisa Irlam – PoolMate
Keen amateur athlete Lisa Irlam, from Wraysbury, was training for a triathlon but kept forgetting how many laps she had swum. Inspired by her background in electronics and with the help of her husband, Irlam set about designing a waterproof computerised watch – the PoolMate (swimovate.com) – which could keep track for her. Despite being rejected on Dragons’ Den, Irlam’s ingenious invention has been a huge success, selling in over 60 countries worldwide since 2009. Irlam says: “Don’t be afraid of making a bad decision. Just pick yourself up and learn from it”.

Joy is released in cinemas nationwide on 1 January 2016, book tickets here