While walking alone on an isolated shortcut of the Rail Trail in New Paltz, Kat Alexander came face to face with a man who began to undress himself in front of her. With no immediate way to protect herself she, like many other women, panicked—but it was from this situation that Alexander came up with an idea.
This idea was a SIREN ring, a reimagined wearable safety device concealed inside stylish jewelry recently released this fall.
Alexander, a SUNY New Paltz alumna, grew up in Manhattan and has often experienced similar incidents while traveling alone. Alexander explained that when these incidents occur, “women rarely have the chance to call for help or fumble in their bag for a mace, their cell phone or some sort of weapon.”
The SIREN ring combats this dilemma by concealing technology that, when activated, will emit a shockingly loud alarm to startle and provide escape from anyone unwanted.
Working with her father, an engineer and tech developer, Alexander’s idea started to come together. Intrigued by the idea of a powerful miniature alarm, Alexander’s father started to work on the design over the weekends.
Alexander, who had taken over ownership of The Cheese Plate at Water Street Market during her senior year at SUNY New Paltz, spent her free time researching jewelry design, casting and the manufacturing process. She also spent time learning how to prepare a business, understanding financial projection and patenting of the device, often seeking help and support from many people in the New Paltz community.
One such person was Tim Rogers, who met Alexander in 2012 through a mutual friend, and often spent time brainstorming with her about business and her idea of the SIREN ring. Rogers said he “was impressed with Kat’s uncanny ability to generate excitement about the SIREN ring.”
Even after moving back to Manhattan to fully focus on the SIREN ring, Alexander said she never forgot what she learned while studying at SUNY New Paltz. Alexander said that she took several courses in women’s studies.
“[They opened my] eyes to the fundamental hypocrisy behind historical representation of women all the way through the modern concept of rape culture,” she said.
When women on the SUNY New Paltz campus were asked about their view on the SIREN ring in relation to the prevalence of sexuality and physical violence against women, they had a very similar view.
“As a woman I think [the SIREN Ring] would be beneficial, especially when traveling through the dark New York City streets and as well as here in New Paltz,” first-year International Relations major, Denera Ragoonanan said. “It is also a great way for females to reassure themselves in case they are put in that situation.”
By making a statement about the personal safety issues that women face, Alexander said she wishes to “combat one facet of a greater social issue” through a collective effort.
She said her SIREN ring is an item that will do just that and will offer all women a means of physical and mental protection until a time when positive social shifts render it unnecessary.