Wearable Self-Defense

  • Kristi Gorinas, founder and chief executive officer of Defendables, at the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad. Photograph courtesy Kristi Gorinas
  • Defendables sells small, wearable pods filled with pepper spray, to help defend against attackers. Photograph courtesy Kristi Gorinas

With Defendables, entrepreneur Kristi Gorinas is making self-protection discreet and easy for women.

When Kristi Gorinas founded Defendables, her company that makes wearable self-defense products like the one containing the strongest form of pepper spray available, her mission was personal.

“As a survivor of assault when I was 19, and now a mom of five girls, I wanted something for us to protect ourselves with,” she says.

Defendables come as small, wearable pods that can shoot pepper spray up to three to six feet away. They incorporate a dual-step trigger for releasing the spray, so that it does not get accidentally dispensed. The pods are discreet and can easily be clipped on to pants, shoes, bra straps, caps, bags or car visors.

Gorinas’ personal goal has now gone global, as she placed second in one of the divisions of the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Catalyst competition at the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), held in Hyderabad. In addition to the exposure to investors the competition provided to her, Gorinas won $20,000 [Rs. 1,300,000 approximately] worth of Google Cloud credits, $5,000 [Rs. 325,000 approximately] in Amazon credits and a Dell laptop, in recognition of her work at Defendables.

The experience at the summit was “like no other,” says Gorinas. “The diversity and new languages I heard were amazing. India treated delegates from all countries like royalty and shared its culture in those few days. I’ve been to many conferences with investors and entrepreneurs, but GES was different in that the investors really sought out opportunities and there was real interest in helping every participant be successful.”

Gorinas happened upon the opportunity to be a part of the summit by chance.

“I saw a Facebook post from [First Daughter] Ivanka Trump stating entrepreneurs should apply online to be chosen as a U.S. delegate to participate,” she says. “I believe there were over 15,000 applicants from the U.S. alone.”

While Defendables won recognition at the summit for its role in women’s safety, the product is designed to reach a much broader population.

“Assailants don’t discriminate, and young kids, teens and women seem to be the biggest targets,” says Gorinas. “However, men are also physically attacked and assaulted, and the elderly are a huge target too. So, my audience is any adult.” For kids, she’s planning to develop a self-defense product that does not include pepper spray.

As the product line evolves, Gorinas plans to integrate a Global Positioning System (GPS) for locating and an emergency notification system that works without Bluetooth or pairing with a smart device. She cautions, however, that while this feature would notify loved ones of a person’s whereabouts, it is secondary to the pepper spray, which offers immediate protection from an attacker. The Defendables line will also eventually include a 120-decibel alarm, audible from more than 600 feet away, to help scare off attackers.

Gorinas has a long history of working as an entrepreneur. She started inventing baby products 10 years ago and continues to conceive of consumer goods she would herself use to “simplify life,” she says. She has also spoken at Disney Social Media Moms’ events, as well as on Capitol Hill, including four times to members of the U.S. Congress on the topics of entrepreneurship, inventing, licensing and patents.

Gorinas’ long-term goal with Defendables is to launch a home-party concept that will include an education session on the use of self-defense products and training on situational awareness and personal safety. The parties will provide a platform for selling the Defendables products, alongside home security systems by SABRE, the company that manufactures and distributes Defendables.

Gorinas is on track to realize her long-term vision for Defendables: providing the product for free to those “most in need—in shelters and colleges, and the homeless—and to educate on the necessity of being prepared to defend yourself 24/7.”


Carrie Loewenthal Massey is a New York City-based freelance writer.