Saanich parent Kerry Couvelier invented a fabric drink holder that attaches to an umbrella after she started taking her son to his soccer games. She and her husband pitched the product

A drink sleeve that rescues the soccer parent

A Saanich mom invents a drink sleeve for an umbrella, and pitches it on Dragons' Den

On the endlessly rainy West Coast, this could be the answer for soccer parents and pedestrians everywhere – a drink holder that attaches to an umbrella.

The idea is simple and practical, but remained un-invented until a Saanich mom started taking her six-year-old son to weekend soccer games. With coffee and umbrella in hand, and as a busy real estate agent, she found answering her cellphone was a pain.

“Parents standing on the sidelines all have coffee,” said Kerry Couvelier, 34. “You’re juggling your umbrella when the phone rings, or you’re holding your dog, and you have to put your coffee in the wet grass.”

There had to be a better way. A first-time inventor, Couvelier came up with the idea of attaching an insulated drink sleeve to an umbrella using velcro and non-skid rubber.

Her mom dutifully sewed the many prototypes, and through trial and error, and plenty of walking around the house with drinks in fabric sleeves attached to open umbrellas, Joey on the Go was born.

She gathered a group of women to test it out and provide feedback, and consulted with a marketing company to see if it was an idea worth pursuing. All signs pointed to go. She found a manufacturer out of the U.S. and has applied for a patent on the product. “It’s been a wild ride,” she said.

The concept began about a year ago as a bit of a joke with her husband Graham Gilbert, who found it was a product whose time had come.

“I thought it was a novel idea, but thought where would it go? Who would need it? Sure enough everyone we talked to,” Gilbert said.

“Every time I’m at the field, people look and ask where I got that,” Couvelier said. “If you are going to be standing out there, you’ve got to hold your coffee.”

Couvelier and Gilbert presented the idea to the Dragons’ Den investors in Toronto three months ago, and the episode airs on Sunday, Jan. 20. “It was a once in a lifetime experience. It’s as crazy as it seems on TV,” Couvelier said. “They are a good group of people. It was fun.”

She can’t say if the Dragons gave her a deal, but Arlene Dickinson and Kevin O’Leary gave the sleeve a test run during taping. “Bruce (Croxon) could relate. He has kids that play sports,” she said.

A real test of the product starts Monday, when she launches her website The plan is to market not only at parents who attend their kids’ outdoor sports, but to transit commuters in hubs such as Vancouver and Toronto, and consistently rainy places, such as the U.K.

“Larger cities like Toronto have a lot more commuters (than Victoria). We are definitely trying to hit the commuter market,” Couvelier said.

Dragons’ Den airs Sundays at 8 p.m. CBC television.


Just Posted

Bike sharing program rolls into Saanich

According to staff, U-Bicycle plans to make between 75 and 100 bicycles available in Saanich.

Teenager target of indecent exposure at Willows Beach in Oak Bay

Suspect exposed his genitals to a teenage girl Saturday

Two puppies snatched from East Sooke home

Anyone with information asked to contact Sooke RCMP

Saanich teen helps save three people from the Gorge

53-year-old male who was submerged is expected to recover

Moving Trans History Forward conference aimed at more than LGBTQ community

UVic’s Aaron Devor: “We’re all here to learn from each other”

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Mayor says it could take “years” to replace EDPA

Mayor Richard Atwell said it will take Saanich “years” to replace a… Continue reading

BCHL Today: Surrey Eagles in the driver’s seat and Ethan Martini takes a seat

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Courtenay man identified as Vancouver Island’s newest multi-millionaire

Geoffrey Bennett won the March 17 BC/49 jackpot

New Liberal bill would tighten controls on sale, licensing of firearms in Canada

Measures are intended to assist police in investigating gun trafficking and other crimes

Fatal overnight motor vehicle incident on Mount Washington

North Island Traffic Division called to the incident which took the life of a male driver in his 30s

Murder charges upgraded for B.C. man accused of killing wife and daughters

Crown approved new information on Jacob Forman’s file

Janet Austin announced as B.C.’s new lieutenant governor

Austin has served as YWCA Metro Vancouver CEO since 2003

Most Read