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From The Daily Record, Monday, June 13, 2011
Mother of invention, by Katarina Tweedie
It's not child's play, but the hard work paid off for a female entrepreneur
Alison Grieve is in line to become a multi-millionaire with her invention, the Safetray, which has taken the worldwide hospitality industry by storm.
The device, which looks like a normal black drinks tray, has a hidden hand clip on its underside, allowing the user to securely transport drinks without dropping them.
Putting food on the table, literally, motivated Alison to become an entrepreneur. She realised that working for herself was a practical solution to juggling childcare and work.
The 33-year-old from Edinburgh said: "It can be difficult to find work to fit around childcare, so when the boys were 18 months old I set up a small events business.
"It was something I could do in the evening and book a babysitter. It became quite successful and I got into the corporate arena, doing some high-end events.
"My parents had a cassette tape from when I was seven," she admitted. "My dad was asking what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said an inventor."
She had her Eureka moment after witnessing a tray full of champagne glasses smashing on to a table at an important function.
Alison said: "I watched in horror as the waitress lost control of the tray, spilling the contents all over the table and smashing glass across the venue just minutes before the boss of the host firm was due to arrive.
"It struck me that an item that is used extensively throughout the hospitality industry, carrying not only glass and china but also piping hot liquids, was utterly precarious.
"I had a few moments of silent brainstorming over such things as how a flip-flop attaches itself to a foot and the Safetray was born."
She approached design consultancy Fearsomengine, who were able to translate her idea into drawings, develop materials and locate a factory to produce samples.
They knew it was a winner as soon as they saw it and immediately agreed to be part of the company.
Alison added: "I expected to get an income sooner than I did but every entrepreneur has since told me that it always takes longer than you'd expect. Running low on cash as an entrepreneur is tricky.
"Sometimes I've had to rush to a meeting and get a taxi, or buy a suit that didn't have a hole in it.
"We might have been living on a tightrope for the past couple of years but that's all about to change now that the orders are rolling in."
The Safetray is now in production and thousands of orders have been requested throughout Europe and across America.
"No matter how much money I make in the future, I know that the greatest wealth comes from having my family," she added.