I love to get into the minds of those that create our safer baby and toddler products. How did they come to design this or do that? What are the struggles? Recently I re-reviewed The Safe Sippy and my daughter has taken a liking to this cup. I decided that I wanted to interview the man behind the cup. Not a mom, a daddy who got the idea that his kids should be drinking out of stainless steel safe cups, no more toxic sippy cups! He had an idea and ran with it. Here’s my inspiring interview with the daddy of sippy cups, founder of The Safe Sippy, Bret Plate. A dad who means business and is fired up about the FDA and their back tracking on BPA!
G&CM: Tell me a little about how you came to decide you wanted to design and market a safer sippy cup. What concerns did you have as a father?
Bret: I designed The Safe SippyTM cup after my wife read an article in Mothering Magazine about the dangers of BPA in disposable plastic water bottles. The day after reading the article, she threw away all the plastic bottles in the house and went online to find a stainless steel water bottle (as suggested by Mothering). Our first son was 18 months at the time and was waking up thirsty and asking for water every morning. Each morning, I would grab a plastic sippy off the counter, pour out the water that had been sitting in the cup overnight, and put fresh water in it. One morning I just looked at the cup I had just handed to my son and thought, “If I won’t drink out of plastic anymore, why am I letting my son? He’s far more vulnerable than I am.”
One of our new stainless steel water bottles was sitting on the counter. I looked at it and, in the next moment, thought, “Why couldn’t you make a sippy cup out of stainless steel?” At the time it was a very radical idea; nobody had done anything like this yet, but I just knew the BPA issue was going to get big and I wanted to be the first to do something about it. It seemed like a perfectly logical evolution for the sippy cup.
G&CM: The design is very unique. Tell me more about the design and how you came to create it. What struggles you have had and so forth? Why stainless steel?
Bret:I chose stainless steel for the reasons above…it’s safe and clean and had been proven to be a great substitute for plastic drinking bottles….and because I had no idea stainless steel was so much harder to work with than plastic. Also, I didn’t know when I started that there were plastics that did not contain BPA. So stainless just seemed like the logical solution and I never turned back.
I created the design in conjunction with two talented design graduates from Art Center in Pasadena. I gave them a blank canvas and told them to surprise me – I really didn’t have preconceived ideas about what it should look like. The only guidance I gave them was that there had to be a protective mechanism to prevent the cup from getting dented if dropped, since we all know that children drop things constantly. Turns out, some denting is ok, but the plastic sleeve is great anyway for protecting hands from cold and furniture (or people) from banging.
G&CM: What are your thought about the FDA and their new ruling on BPA?
Bret: Are you speaking about their recent ruling that BPA is not dangerous, or their subsequent backtracking after the most recent British study came out about risks even to adults with elevated levels of BPA?
As for the official “ruling” that BPA is safe…it has become clear to anyone that follows the FDA and its processes that this agency has become completely tainted by the revolving door nature of the agency and can no longer to be trusted. Too many FDA employees simply parley their government positions into high paying jobs with the very companies they are supposed to be monitoring. That coupled with the fact that many so called “testing procedures” and “studies” are actually done by the very companies bringing out the products – rather than independent studies conducted by the FDA – means that there is a lot of self-regulation going on. How can we trust that a company is going to test their product with consumer safety (not sales) as a priority?
Families really need to do their own research now about health issues. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy now with the internet. The access now to information not biased by commercial considerations would have been unfathomable a few years ago.
Regarding the FDA’s recent backtracking on their BPA ruling after the most recent study about the dangers was published a few weeks ago, well, that’s just vintage FDA.
G&CM: As a father, you can relate to my mom readers and the scares they have about the toxins in our environment and the exposure their children have to the toxins. Besides, using the Safe Sippy, what advice can you offer moms and dads?
There are a whole host of things parents can do to protect themselves and their children. The obvious first step is to get rid of plastic storage containers and go back to glass storage from such companies as Pyrex. We no longer have any plastic storage containers in our house.
Buying organic food whenever possible is an obvious step. It’s also helpful to learn which foods should only be eaten if they are organic and which foods don’t matter. For example, meat, strawberries and apples retain many of the chemicals used to raise them and should always be organic. On the other hand, broccoli holds onto almost nothing, so we eat non-organic broccoli and don’t think twice about it. (There was an excellent article in Consumer Reports about a year ago detailing which foods fall into which category.)
Another immediate action parents can take is to stop buying drink of any kind in cans. This obviously applies most particularly to soft drinks, since that’s what everyone drinks the most of. Soft drink cans are lined with a plastic to prevent contact with the aluminum can, as aluminum itself is toxic. However, this liner contains BPA and has been identified as a primary source of the chemical in humans. Instead, go back to drinking out of glass bottles whenever possible. (Incidentally, soft drinks come almost exclusively in glass bottles in Europe.)
G&CM: You are writing a book due out this year and you actually have a lot of screen writing experience. Wow! How does this help you in your business with The Safe Sippy and maybe tell us more about this book you are writing.
Bret: The book, unfortunately, has been temporarily shelved because of the overwhelming success of The Safe SippyTM cup and the time constraints it is placing on me. The success of Kid Basix and our new product development is my priority right now. My background, in addition to screen writing, is advertising. I was a copywriter and Creative Director for a number of years early in my career. As a result, I write pretty much all of the communications, from the website to our marketing materials. That has obviously come in handy.
G&CM: Bret, is there anything you would like for my readers to know about The Safe Sippy? Any new news or up coming products that will be launched? Can we hope to find these cups in a major retail store anytime soon? What are your visions for the future of The Safe Sippy?
The Safe Sippy2 (Safe Sippy Squared) cup is coming out in a few months. It will have a travel cap, softer, TPR-covered spout and straw converter. It will retail for $2 more than TSS and will be available only in boutiques.
The Safe StarterTM stainless steel baby bottle (in 5 oz and 10 oz versions) will be available in boutiques in early 2009.
The Safe SporterTM stainless steel water bottles (in three sizes – 12, 16 & 24 ounces) will be available around March 2009. They will also be found in better boutiques nationwide.
We’re growing, and you haven’t seen us reach our full potential yet. It’s an exciting time!
Learn more about The Safe Sippy Cup and the sleek design, here. Visit Posh Mama for the business side of the interview and Bret’s advice for the green entrepreneur. Purchase the cup through the Land of Nod and other fine retailers.
Why not? Great tips for free!