Del Mar’s Karen Braveheart has created a product that ensures fewer messes and more loving moments during mealtimes: a stay-put baby plate called Adi.
Made after years of research and development, the happy turquoise plate in the shape of an Adelie penguin features suction under the plate with a release tab hidden from little fingers. It promises to stick—it can’t be flipped or flopped, meaning less frustration and more time for parents to connect with their child at the table.
The penguin plate has three divided eating sections as well as a snap-tight lid with a little fish handle. The plate’s curved edges are also designed to help children learn how to use utensils. An engraved message inside the largest divided eating compartment reads Braveheart’s driving message: “A loving moment lasts a lifetime.”
Through her company Prodigi Kids, the Adi plate launched in the fourth quarter of 2019 and started selling online and in baby and gift boutiques in San Diego such as Magical Child in Encinitas and Sweetpea Children’s Shop in Flower Hill Promenade. The plate is also sold at farmers markets in Los Angeles and La Jolla —Braveheart’s dream is to land in Nordstrom or Buy Buy Baby.
Braveheart’s oldest child Sophie was the inspiration—the master of the mess.
“The idea for the Adi plate started when my daughter was 18 months old,” said Braveheart. As a first- time mom, she took her out to eat in a restaurant. Sophie picked up her placemat and hurled, launching a plate of pasta onto the air and splashing meatballs and red sauce onto the white dress shirt of the man sitting behind her. “This single stressful, embarrassing moment changed the course of my entire life.”
Determined, she launched into a process to bring the Adi plate to market that would take years of commitment to see through—Sophie, the inspiration, is now 14 years old.
“This has been an obsessive dream of mine for so long,” she said.
Before Braveheart found her calling as a product designer, she had a successful career as an attorney and real estate broker.“What was missing was the feeling of not feeling happy inside,” she said. She wanted to live a life with purpose and she found it with her idea for a stay-put plate—through multiple trials and error, nothing that she had found on the market that claimed to stick actually worked.
In 2009, Braveheart connected with the UC San Diego Design Lab, working with Associate Professor Nate Delson and engineering students in a senior-level design class. Braveheart worked with the four interns over the course of a semester to develop the perfect suction and plate—the four students’ names are on the design patent with her.
Braveheart had to put the dream on hold as she raised her three kids: Sophie, Ryan and Justin—they are now 14, 11 and 9 and students at Torrey Pines High School, Earl Warren Middle School and Del Mar Hills Academy.
By 2013, she returned to UCSD to take the plate to the next step and create a retail-ready prototype. She created a Kickstarter campaign that raised $34,000 and had a manufacturer lined up in China.
“After that, things blew up on me personally and professionally,” said Braveheart.
Her marriage ended and the manufacturer fell through, losing six months of work that had been done over in China. It was a scary time for Braveheart as a newly-single mom pursuing her dream with Prodigi Kids—there were lots of tears and some moments of doubt but she felt destined to create the business, chasing down capital and impact investors.
She had made the move to follow her heart and her dream and she was not going to give up: “You just keep going.”
Braveheart eventually raised $400,000 in capital and started on the “behemoth” that is the manufacturing process. She worked with local Poway manufacturer Eagle Mold Technologies with the steel molds that were sent over from China. Prodigi Kids’ now USA-made plates, ink hand-screened at Accuprint Services in Ontario with suction made by Goodyear Rubber in Rancho Cucamunga, completed their first 2,500-unit run in 2019.
Braveheart already has ideas to expand Prodigi Kids. Future product ideas include a pink Adi, utensils and more plates in the shape of a teddy bear, butterfly and car. She also wants to create a learning platform focused on helping parents promote self-worth.
“Less stress, more moments” is the core belief of the brand and the self-worth piece is important to her, to allow a child to live a happy life. Braveheart said she grew up with a less than idyllic childhood but she savors the moments of love and connection that she felt with her parents, the moments when she truly felt protected and valued.
“As parents, we’re here to support our children and find their unique gifts. When we raise our children with self-worth, they develop the inner confidence to trust themselves and look within for happiness,” Braveheart said. “Every loving moment of connection is a building block that creates the foundation for our child’s self-worth.”
While the process to kickstart Prodigi Kids was long and challenging, Braveheart said she was driven forward by the product mission she held so close to her heart.
“I got to design a product that brings love and peace into people’s lives and that’s my greatest joy,” Braveheart said.
Check out the Adi plate at prodigikids.com