HALE W18 Masthead

Airpocket: a great idea takes flight

Emma Grey

I heard someone say that graveyards are the wealthiest places on earth. They’re full of books never written, businesses never started, inventions never created—because of fear.

You have a flash of inspiration. Wouldn’t it be great to have… Why hasn’t someone done…

It rarely occurs to us that we should actually follow through. We tend not to think we should go and do that. Make it happen. Create it. Invent it.

Who are we to be inventors? Isn’t that what other people do? People with some idea of design or engineering or marketing?

A few years ago, my friend Trish worked in recruitment. She was on a plane heading back to Canberra, waiting as the other passengers were boarding.

A young woman arrived at her seat and stood in the aisle for a couple of minutes, rummaging around in her carry-on bags pulling out her iPad, magazines, a makeup case, headphones and everything she wanted for the flight. Finally she stashed her bags in the overhead locker and sat down.

Haven’t we all either been that time-wasting, aisle-hogging individual (me!) or rolled our eyes at that person (my husband!) and wished the boarding process would go faster? Wouldn’t it be much quicker and easier if we could reach in and pull out all of those things, pre-packed, in one go?

My husband and I might go so far as thinking ‘this is a problem’, but we’d buckle our seat belts, sigh, and throw ourselves into our on-board reading—accepting the status quo. I’m a writer. He’s an historian… so, you know, other people invent things. Not us.

But Trish had other ideas…

One idea, in particular. For a slim, compact pouch with everything inside it, ready to lift out of our carry-on and place in the seatback pocket. The name “Airpocket” came to her almost in the same instant.

We might ask what business a public-service recruiter had in designing the next big thing in carry-on luggage. Or we could ask a much more important question: ‘Why not?’

Aren’t all of the best ideas—everything we love to use now from the wheels on our cars through to our iPhones—isn’t it all conceived out of frustration or need or inspiration in moments on planes, in garages or in flippant conversation?

It’s not the idea that really counts. It’s the execution. It’s the sacrifice. The learning curve. The persistence when it all falls in a heap.

Trish Smith saw a need for something. She had the idea and she ran with it where others wouldn’t.

We’d be climbing Mount Ainslie a year ago with our running group and she’d be telling me about designers and suppliers and prototypes. Twelve months passed and the conversation morphed into packaging and marketing and a kickstarter campaign…

Next thing, we’d finished our walk at the Arboretum and Trish was passing around a physical prototype. We were privy to a secret something!

Seeing it for real, we all knew we needed one. We needed another one for our partners and one for each of our kids. Every one of us had a story to tell about anxiety over leaving something in the seat pocket, or having our kids leave things in the panic of disembarking…

It triggered a memory of a long-haul flight with my (unusually) well-behaved children and an Irish guy approaching me, saying, ‘You’ve obviously drugged your kids!’

I hadn’t, but he’d left the Phenergan in the seat-pocket of the flight before this one and apparently his wife was threatening divorce. DIVORCE.

I was blown away.

Now Trish: a ‘normal person’ from running group—had invented an actual thing to combat these kinds of scenarios. I LOVE IT! (The product, and the fact that she was bold enough to say, ‘why not me?’)

And now it’s almost launch day! Everyone she’s shown has loved what she’s designed so far.

I want to be able to say, ‘I knew the inventor of the Airpocket before anyone had heard about it.’ I want to remember our Sunday walks and talks about its design and manufacture and marketing.

Most of all, I want the best for an ordinary Canberran who risked a lot, invested hard and believed she could learn how to make something wonderful out of nothing.

As a HerCanberra community, let’s back a Canberra woman and a bright idea that I suspect is about to Take Off! It’s the whole trip, organised in a seat-pocket. Sorted.

UPDATE – FEBRUARY 2016: Airpocket surpassed its Kickstarter crowdfunding goal and is now a reality. Buy yours at shop.airpocket.com.au.


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

  • Liz Posmyk

    Go Trish! Such a brilliant idea!

    • Trish Smith

      Thanks Liz! It’s exciting to be so close to launch-day after such a long journey.

  • Ashleigh

    Oh wow! I want one! So clever.

    • Trish Smith

      Thanks Ashleigh! I hope you’ll sign up for the Kickstarter campaign. There’s some information about Kickstarter on the Airpocket facebook page, if you’re not familiar with how crowdfunding works.

  • Melita

    What a great idea! and great article too 🙂

    • Trish Smith

      Thank you Melita. It’s been fun sharing this project with Emma along the way… she’s quite inspirational, as you can imagine!

  • Shellwyn Sproule

    This is such an awesome idea. I always double and triple check I have everything I need from the seat pocket but getting all my goodies out of my bag is the pits – no matter how organised you think you are……..you just aren’t 🙂 Sign me up!

    • Trish Smith

      Thanks Shellwyn! I’m a triple-checker as well! The campaign launches soon, in the meantime you can stay up to date on the facebook page. Please come and say hi! -Trish.