University of Richmond student Olivia Pivirotto, WC '19, worked over the past two years to create a product that aims to change the way college students drink alcohol.
SwigSafe is a pilsner-shaped bottle that has a spill and tamper-resistant lid as well as measurements on the bottle to show users how much they are drinking.
Pivirotto and her mother discussed the issues surrounding drinking in college, specifically for women, the summer before Pivirotto began her freshman year of college. Pivirotto started to think about how she could create a product that was portable with a secure lid that would also help women monitor how much alcohol was being poured into their drinks.
“Olivia wanted to do something to make women not only feel safer, but be safer,” Brenda Pivirotto, Olivia's mother, said.
Pivirotto and her mother are now business partners. Her mother works on the business issues pertaining to SwigSafe, and Pivirotto is behind the marketing and design side of the partnership.
“I wanted Olivia to enjoy being a college student and not be pulled away with logistics [of SwigSafe], especially because of how demanding the workload is," her mother said.
During her first semester of college, Pivirotto said she had witnessed firsthand the effects of drinking, and knew she had to continue with developing SwigSafe. Pivirotto wanted to create SwigSafe in order to decrease the number of women who are victims of date rape drugs, but she said SwigSafe also served to protect college women from themselves.
“It is so common to hear ‘I guess I drank more than I thought,’ or ‘I have no idea how much is in [this drink],’” Pivirotto said.
She explained that a ‘standard drink’ varied depending on the bartender and whether they used a 1 oz. or 1.5 oz. shot glass, so it becomes difficult for students to accurately keep track of how much they are drinking.
In addition to this inconsistency at bars and clubs, Pivirotto also noticed a tendency for many students to make their own drinks without bothering to measure out the liquor.
When Pivirotto began to think of a design for SwigSafe, she considered what most college students use to transport their alcohol from a dorm room to a party – a plastic bottle.
“I wanted SwigSafe to be different than a water bottle,” Pivirotto said. “This bottle is aesthetically pleasing, sleek and attractive. There is nothing sexy or cute about a Gatorade bottle or water bottle full of liquor.”
Pivirotto said that the ultimate goal of the product was for students to be able to take their SwigSafe bottle out at night to parties, clubs or bars.
“I have spoken to several bartenders in the area," Pivirotto said. "They are on board with the idea."
She said that students had to bring an empty SwigSafe bottle if they went out.
“They would know how much they are actually drinking, and the chance of being drugged is reduced – plus they won't be spilled on,” Pivirotto said.
Pivirotto has spoken to several sororities on campus, and has also presented her product to UR's Panhellenic Council. She also reached out to presidents of sororities all over the East Coast, and plans to bring SwigSafe to product shows over the summer.
“I’m excited to see her business get off the ground, and I think that a product such as SwigSafe that is designed to allow students to have more control over their drinks in social settings is a really smart product,” Meg Pevarski, assistant director of greek life, said in an email.
SwigSafe bottles will be available for purchase through the company’s website starting in June, and will be sold for $30.
Contact news writer Candace Hino at firstname.lastname@example.org.