Clare Edwards, a wheelchair user since a car accident in her teens, is the founder of Trabasack Products. Clare's aim is to create innovative products that are inclusive and useful to everyone whatever their age or ability. Her first design is the multi-award winning Trabasack, a lap-tray and travel bag.
Trabasack enables the user to eat, drink, work or play wherever they are by providing a flat tray surface. Trabasack is also an easy to carry, travel bag with many ergonomic design features. It has won several awards for its unique design, and is now being sold globally through a network of distributors in USA, Germany, France Holland, Belgium and New Zealand. More information about purchasing Trabasack lap-tray travel bag can be found at www.trabasack.co.uk Trabasack is perfect for laptops, crafts, camping/caravaning, education and children.
The Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs 2010 has been set up by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the serial entrepreneur best known for founding easyJet. Working with Leonard Cheshire Disability the competition has been shortlisted to 10 finalists each showing a very strong customer focus, flexibility and being reactive to changing circumstances. The judges are looking for entrepreneurs that have taken personal and financial risks to see their business ambitions realized and demonstrated an inspirational, positive approach to running a business, and living life, with a disability.
As Sir Stelios put it himself on the launch of the award; "I am very passionate about encouraging an enterprising spirit throughout British culture. Helping to remove the barriers that disabled people face in business is an important part of this. That is why I was keen to establish an award which gives disabled people an opportunity to showcase their ability rather than have them negatively judged by their disability. I look forward to seeing the best of the entries and meeting the eventual winner."
The creation of the Award was motivated by Stelios' goal of not only supporting disabled entrepreneurs, but also raising awareness of the skills and inventiveness of those with disabilities.
The Award is now in its fourth year having been launched in 2007. The winner will be presented on Thursday 25th November 2010 at the Growing Business Awards; for more information visit: www.gba.realbusiness.co.uk/
Clare Edwards, who is hoping to be the first female winner of the award said
"My biggest challenge has been to ensure that the volume, consistency and quality of work needed to create a successful business is achievable despite living with a disability. I have a strong internal drive and desire to be successful, I am goal focused and strict on time management.
I have had to learn about marketing, sales, website design, manufacturing and logistics in a short space of time. Applying these new skills, whilst maintaining a professional standard throughout, is, at times, very tough.
We also have a child with severe epilepsy (Dravet Syndrome) who requires specialist care. it was my desire to help my disabled son access toys and switches that helped lead to the design of Trabasack.
I have focused on my strengths such as design and creative work. Living with a disability means that you are always striving to adapt your environment to make life easier. It means you become a natural designer and inventor through your own needs.
My disability has been an advantage in that I have been able to create a "Design for all" product before knowing what that meant! That is, a product that has been ergonomically created to be easy to use by people with a range of abilities, young, old, disabled and non-disabled.
I have also been supported by the 'disabled' community online who have championed our product and become the 'early adopters' of Trabasack. Our peers have helped us raise awareness by writing about Trabasack on blogs, forums, through web links and by disseminating press releases to help us and because they know that Trabasacks are so incredibly useful.
Clare has been mentored and taught by some leading professionals to help grow her business. She was became an UnLtd Level 2 Award Winner in Autumn 2009. UnLtd, the charity for social entrepreneurs has provided practical help and business development support enabling Clare to access experienced mentors for advice and guidance.
Through support from UnLtd, she recently attended the MADE festival for Entrepreneurs in Sheffield and met Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, the Black Farmer. She also attended ex-Dragons Den investor, Doug Richard's School 4 Start Ups 48hr Boot Camp receiving expert and pithy advice from the Californian serial entrepreneur and his team of specialists. www.schoolforstartups.co.uk/
Clare now waits to hear from the judges whether she will go on to meet Stelios at a special judging lunch in London in October. In the meantime, she is continues grow her business and to develop new products. Prototypes of two new designs have been made and will be launched next year.
Equip-able Ltd is an award winning innovative design company based in Leicestershire, U.K. A social enterprise; our aim is to promote social inclusion. We offer our customers, British designed, affordable, products that are useful to everyone.
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5 - Paul Dodenhoff writes on an interesting parallel between British citizens caught up in policy aimed at slashing Britain's immigration numbers, and Britain's disabled people caught in a similar assault upon slashing numbers of people receiving state welfare...