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Mother of invention

LO womans Grapple earns grant from Huggies


by: REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Amy Oh shows how her invention, Grapple, opens. Grapple adheres to flat surfaces by suction and toys can be attached to the tethers to keep them within reach of toddlers.

Every parent has experienced it: the frustration of the constantly dropped toy. As soon as you lift the forkful to your mouth or try to converse with your spouse the baby drops his toy off the table or high chair. You stoop to retrieve it, turn your attention back to your spouse and food and — kerplop! — the toy is again on the floor.

“That got really old really fast,” said Lake Oswego mom Amy Oh. Thankfully necessity is the mother of invention and Oh has solved the wearying situation in a fine fashion. She has developed Grapple, a tether that suctions to any smooth surface and to which you can attached baby’s favorite toys. It keeps baby occupied and happy and toys within reach.

Oh’s invention is so ingenious that she has been awarded a $15,000 grant from the 2013 Huggies Mominspired Grant Program. She is one of 10 grant recipients honored for their innovative ideas.

Oh’s initial version of Grapple was created when her son was 9 months old; it consisted of a plastic coil bracelet keychain to which she attached his toys. She knew she was onto something when people would stop in restaurants and ask where she got the unique gadget.

Oh is a financial planner by profession and her husband works in commercial real estate. Neither of them have experience in toy manufacturing but through friends and acquaintances they found help at each step along the way — a design firm to create a prototype, a safety consultant and even assistance with the product’s patent.

Grapple is made of food grade silicone and is BPA— and phthalate-free. It meets Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act and American Society of Testing and Materials standards. To use, simply press Grapple down on a smooth table or other surface to create a suction, flip the top up and attach the toys to the tethers.

Some of the other innovative products receiving grants were Kango Boo, a shopping cart support belt for infants and toddlers; Pully Palz, a pacifier toy that attaches to car seats, bouncers and more to keep pacifiers in view and in reach; Kidswitch, which allows toddlers to operate light switches that are out of reach but not out of their realm of ability; and Zippyz, patented ultra-soft organic cotton rompers that zip from the foot to the belly, which keep the baby’s chest covered and warm during diaper changes.

“I am thrilled to welcome this latest class to the Huggies Mominspired family that has grown now to 42 members,” said Kelly Stephenson, Huggies senior brand manager. “This year’s recipients are seeing unmet needs and working hard to create products and services that benefit parents, children and their relationships.”

The Huggies Mominspired grant program started in 2010. Oh applied at that time, but didn’t have a prototype to submit. She launched the product in 2012 and then resubmitted her application.

Amy Oh holds up the packaged Grapple; the Grapple on the counter is ready for play.We’ve sold it mainly by word of mouth and we did attend a trade show,” she said. “Fifteen thousand dollars is a lot for a small company. It will enable us to hire marketing help.”

Grapple sells for $19.95 and is available at Dragonfly Greetings and Gifts in West Linn and Frog Pond Toys in Lake Oswego, as well as online at boingyco.com.

To learn more about the Huggies Mominspired Grant Program, visit huggiesMominspired.com.




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