Tatty travelling could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a brainwave by a Guisborough entrepreneur with a passion for protecting luggage.
Karen came up with the idea for her invention – the Suitcase Saver – when her husband Ewan’s new suitcase came home all battered after a trip.
She said: “We often spend a lot of money on our luggage, but it can get tatty very quickly – and it’s often hard to pick out your suitcase from a busy airport carousel.
“The Suitcase Saver saves, protects and helps to identify your baggage.
“It’s made from lightweight waterproof material with elastic on the bottom to fit two or four-wheeled cases, and a drawstring on top with a toggle that tightens around the handle.”
Karen even invented the special lockable toggle when she found nothing suitable on the market, and her Suitcase Saver has recently been granted a UK patent.
Karen was helped along the long route from idea to production by Redcar and Cleveland Council’s Enterprise Team.
“They’ve been brilliant,” she said. “Although I already run a health and safety business, I went along to one of their start-up courses, and I learned a lot because I’m moving into manufacturing.
“They helped me to assess whether the saver was a good enough idea to develop. Their advice all the way through has been invaluable, even with basics – for instance, it can be tricky to set up a bank account when you are a new business.”
Karen, 43, has already produced 1,000 Suitcase Savers, with the help of three seamstresses who formerly worked for the Burtons Group factory in Guisborough.
The savers can be customised with logos or advertising, which Karen sees as a big potential growth area. She states: With 9 million people in the air at any one time why is this advertising avenue not being explored?
“We took the Suitcase Saver to the Ideal Homes Exhibition in Glasgow at the beginning of June, and it went down really well with customers with fantastic feedback from most people – particularly the ones we printed with the St Andrew’s cross for Scotland,” said Karen.