The inspiration for SafeSip came during a family meal, our lovely David had done it again - whilst sitting in a high chair he threw his toddler cup over his shoulder and launched forward to grab my daughter's large glass of orange juice, knocking the whole thing into my husband’s lap. I went home that night and made a prototype out of a balloon and it worked!
David – my inspiration behind Safesip Very first prototype
I did not really know where to go and heard Trevor Bayliss the inventor of the wind up radio being interviewed, he said “everyone has an invention in them, are you the type of person to do something with it and make it, or are you the sort to walk past it on a supermarket shelf and say I thought of that years ago and did nothing.” Right there and then I decided to be the first type of person, I contacted him and he advised me to join an inventing scheme the Welsh Development Agency were running, which I did and they were instrumental in helping me secure the patents across Europe, USA, Australia and Malaysia.
Then the hard work came – I knew what I wanted but not how to get there, so started on a massive learning curve seeking advice from universities, colleges and other inventors. Over the next few years I worked on the design and came up with a final version and started working on the prototype ready for manufacture. I wanted SafeSip to be totally flexible so you can stretch it over a range of sizes, I needed it to be designed to go on and off easily and that it needed to be styled to fit both glasses, drinks cans and single and double handled mugs. It required a vent so that you can drink without creating a vacuum and to allow gases out.
David with second phase of prototypes
I have a relative with muscular dystrophy and realised the difficulty she and others with certain illnesses such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone or those who have suffered a stroke or disability have when trying to drink, often spilling their drinks or being given an undignified baby type beaker to use. When looking at daily living aids I could see that there was nothing like SafeSip, and therefore it would be perfect for such people, not just children. It became my sole desire to make SafeSip simple but stylish so that it could be used by any age to drink with dignity. It was always my dream to have SafeSip made in the UK and I found a factory that could help.
I have won some fantastic awards with SafeSip and was so proud to become British Female Inventor of the Year 2014 and at the British Inventors Show – winning Platinum Award for Best International Consumer invention, and at the World’s Largest Inventors Show coming third overall winning the Geneva Plate.
We use a UK factory to make SafeSip, which was very exciting to visit and see the fabulous array of colours coming off the production line. It is made from food grade silicone and everything else we need such as packaging and printing is sourced locally.
One of the most amazing things for me is the great feedback that customers give the product and thanks for making their life a little bit easier, something so simple as drinking from a cup for some is life changing for others. One young man who tried one of my early designs, along with my sister-in-law, was the inspiration I needed to keep going until I had perfected it – he has cerebral palsy and he had not been able to drink unaided out of a cup before. He sent a photo of himself at his 18th birthday party and said “Thank you I have drunk by myself for the first time”. Moments like that make you realise that despite the money worries, the heartache and tiredness, it is worth persevering.
We are now exporting to 8 countries, sell both on-line and through healthcare, kitchen and camping outlets and are introducing 3 new products in 2016. Having walked past my product in a shop and seeing it in the packet, and on the BBC news being used by a dementia patient, is an awesome feeling and my family get so excited as they have had to live with the ups and down for years, but I am so glad that I acted on the wise words of Trevor Bayliss and had a go.