October 1, 2014

Things You Didn't Know You Needed: Granola Strolla

I want to tell you about an awesome person and the incredibly cool thing she's doing.

About five and a half years ago, I met this awesome lady- Irene. She and I were part of the same due date club, both pregnant for the first time.

I liked her a lot. She was nerdy and crafty and crunchy, and even over the internet she conveyed a sense of quiet confidence I found really comforting and inspiring.

Her son was born a few weeks before my twins, and we kept tabs on each other, distant though we might be.

Back in the early days of motherhood, she lamented about the "green" products available for parents. So many were green in name only, and there were so many needs that hadn't been met. She and her husband, Ben, are both makers. Irene blogs about sewing and crafting on Tea With Frodo. Ben is an engineer and a general tinkerer. They decided to start making parenting products with an earth friendly attitude. They decided to call their venture Granola Strolla, and began designing. Ben undertakes the technical aspects, and Irene keeps things attractive and functional. With her aesthetics and his know-how, they were ready to start inventing.

The thing is though, Irene and her family have had a lot going on these last five years. Her son and husband were both diagnosed on the spectrum, and her family moved. Then, two and a half years ago, she underwent a preventative bilateral mastectomy. She knew she was a carrier of the BRCA1 gene, and she blogged all the way through her surgeries. She helped start a Memphis chapter of FORCE, a nonprofit dedicated to battling hereditary breast cancer, and a support group for people, like Irene, who carry the gene. She is a warrior, and she wanted to use her blog and its platform to educate people and help them stay healthy and safe.

As though that weren't enough for one person and one family, Irene and her family struggled to add their next child, who was born at 25 weeks and 4 days. Despite all the challenges, Irene's family is together and healthy, and she and her husband Ben are ready to take Granola Strolla to the masses.

Their first product is a portable solar USB charger. Because parents are constantly running down the batteries on their phones, cameras, tablets... anything the kids can play with, really. And a solar charger can keep them running when a family is on the move.

There are a few things that make Ben and Irene's design really unique. First, there's the multidirectional panels. That's awesome, because no matter how it gets dropped or tossed around, it will always be charging.  The next thing that makes is so cool is how sturdy it is. It's designed with parents in mind, so it's made to withstand small children and their attentions.

But the coolest thing of all, in my opinion, is the battery. Not only is this a way to use the sun to charge your phone and your iPad, the battery inside is environmentally friendly as well.

Plus? Because it's so sturdy, and because it's multidirectional, you can simply clip it onto your diaper bag to take it with you anywhere.

Granola Strolla is also made in the USA, helping bring jobs to Tennessee.

FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

It's perfect for camping, it's perfect for somebody who bikes to and from work, and it's perfect for parents.

I think it's a brilliant product, and not just because I think Irene and Ben are just plain brilliant.

It's a brilliant design. It's a great product. And it's a competitive price.

Irene and Ben are kickstarting the Granola Strolla portable USB solar charger, and they're more than halfway to their goal with ten days to go.

It's rare to find somebody as remarkable and and motivated as Irene, and it's even rarer to have the opportunity to help that person make their dreams a reality.

Go check out Granola Strolla on Kickstarter, and think about how different car trips would be without ever having to worry about your phone losing its juice.

Let's get it funded now, because I can't wait to see what Irene and Granola Strolla start making next.

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