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november 2008

Interview met Cecilia Thorfinn

Steeds meer vrouwen wagen de sprong en beginnen een eigen onderneming. In de maand oktober een special over ondernemende DIVAZ. Deze maand laten wij elke week ondernemende DIVAZ aan het woord over hun passie en hun onderneming. Deze maand is het de beurt aan Cecilia Thorfinn. Het interview met deze van oorsprong Zweedse is in het Engels.

Cecilia Thorfinn is since three years busy developing an innovative product concept that she calls the “MummyMug”. It is a stylish mug that will make it possible for parents, or anyone else with small children around, to have a safe coffee or tea break, without risking a scalding burn in the children they have around them. These accidents are very serious and happen way too often today. Cecilia notes that over 10,000 times per year in the Netherlands alone these accidents happen. “Although all parents instinctively realise that hot drinks are dangerous, most people don’t stop drinking tea or coffee when they have children”.

The idea
Cecilia got the idea for the MummyMug when she was on maternity leave with Eleonore, her daughter that is 3 years old now. “I was standing in my kitchen with her on the arm, and longing for a cup of coffee…. but the fear of spilling made every coffee break into a difficult and complicated moment – not the enjoyable break it should be. So I thought: I need a MummyMug!. The idea was born”.

New opportunities
“To my great surprise, there was no safety product on the market already designed to prevent this kind of accident. Of course there are many travel mugs, but I thought it could be done much better. After some research, I realised there was a potentially large market for this product, as I am not the only mother who could use a MummyMug”. But the real opportunity to start was a move to the Netherlands (from Belgium) for her husband’s career. “I had to leave my job in Brussels behind, and thought that instead of looking for a new job somewhere, I should try to make something out of my product idea”.

Cecilia says it has been easy to find various types of partners that have believed in the idea and wanted to contribute their expertise, although she did not have the budget to pay them up front. “For example I met an industrial designer who helped me with the technical solution and the aesthetical design. This enthusiasm has been very important for me, as it has proven, I think, the strength in the product concept as such. But the challenge of trying to organise everything it takes to go from idea in the kitchen to a working prototype has been much bigger than I anticipated. For example, negotiating with investors has proven to be a real mine field”. What’s Cecilia’s greatest ambition with the MummyMug? “That all small children in the future are spared the enormous suffering from a burn from hot drinks, because their parents (or grandparents, or kleuterjufs… ) are wise enough to use a MummyMug!”

Then we have the regular questions for each DIVA we interview:

1. What is your biggest passion?
My family

2. What would you change immediately if you could or had the power?
Reverse the degradation of the climate.

3. Is there a compliment you give yourself often?
In this process, I have had to try doing new things basically every day, in a new country and in a new language. So, every day I try to tell myself  “Well done Cecilia, now you put yourself out of your comfort zone again! Keep doing that! ”

4. What do you always carry around in your handbag?
Keys, wallet, lipgloss, buiscits, paper towels and a reserve pacifier for Eleonore. Since she got out of diapers my bag is much less fully stuffed!

5. Is there someone you admire?
I admire several people, Hillary Clinton and Dalai Lama, for example, but would not say one single person is a rolemodel. In general I admire “the everyday heroes’” one comes across in person, like women (and men!) who manage to combine ambition, work and family in a balanced way. Or who manages to meet with challenges such as illness with serenity.

For more information about the MummyMug, check out