By Vicki Matranga, Design Programs Coordinator
Learn how to develop and launch the right products for the right customer—with the right methods! Be sure to attend some of the free executive-level educational sessions at the Innovation Theater. These programs will give you a new perspective as you walk the Show and will inspire, inform and improve your business.
The four days of the 2015 International Home + Housewares Show will be packed with events and educational sessions. To help you plan your valuable time at the Show, we preview the 21 presentations that will take place in the Innovation Theater in the Lakeside Center. Don’t miss the chance to meet the speakers in person and for the opportunity to ask questions relevant to your work. All programs are audio-recorded and will be available on www.housewares.org after the Show.
The Maker Movement: The Next Industrial Revolution?
Sunday, March 8 9:30—10:20 a.m.
Innovation Theater, Lakeside Center, Room E350
Get acquainted with a quartet of dynamic women who are at the forefront of the Maker Movement: Joanne Domeniconi, co-founder of The Grommet, will moderate the discussion with Abigail Kiefer, co-founder and CEO of Red Clay; Kate Drane, head of design, tech and hardware at Indiegogo; and Lisa Q. Fetterman, creator of the Nomiku sous vide immersion circulator.
Joanne Domeniconi is the co-founder and chief discovery officer of The Grommet, a product launch platform and the first curated, online commerce platform for both B2C and B2B discovery and sales of consumer products created by Maker entrepreneurs. The Grommet, founded in 2008 in the Boston area, is rewriting the playbook for product launch and reshaping how people discover, share, influence and buy products online. The Grommet hosts a special exhibitor area in the Show’s North Building concourse.
CEO Abigail Kiefer co-founded Red Clay in 2011 with Ashley Etling to help retail companies build exceptional products in less time and to make the design process enjoyable again. As Red Clay’s chief relationship builder and risk-taker, Abigail is responsible for creating partnerships with Walmart, Dillard’s and other Fortune 50 retail and consumer package goods companies. A former urban planner for the city of San Francisco, she built her deep understanding of retail by moving to Bentonville, Ark. (home of Walmart) for two years and immersing herself in the industry that sprang up around the retail giant. Kiefer earned an MA in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a dual BA in urban and regional studies, environmental planning and policy, and Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Kate Drane is Indiegogo’s senior director of Chicago outreach and head of design, tech and hardware. She has led many companies, including Misfit Wearables, Scanadu, Skully and Canonical, to secure funding on Indiegogo. In addition to working at Indiegogo, Kate is the co-founder and CMO of The Can Van, the world’s first mobile beer canning service made to bring reasonably priced and environmentally friendly packaging options to California breweries. She met her co-founders while attending Presidio Graduate School, where she received her MBA in sustainable management.
Lisa Q. Fetterman is the founder and CEO of Nomiku, the first home sous vide immersion circulator. She was recently named Forbes 30 Under 30. Lisa’s culinary sensibilities were honed at some of the best restaurants in the world such Babbo, Jean Georges, and Saison. Her sophisticated writing and editing background includes a BA in journalism from New York University’s Arthur L. Carter of Journalism. She has worked for Hearst Corporation in its digital media department and has helped publish multiple New York Times bestsellers with SMITH Magazine. With her two partners, husband Abe Fetterman (who has a PhD in astrophysics) and industrial designer and chef Wipop Bam Suppipat, the trio launched their sous vide immersion circulator in 2012 on Kickstarter. Their instant success tripled their $200,000 goal, allowing them to begin production and establish their company in San Francisco. Lisa will be at Nomiku’s booth in the Lakeside Center Wired + Well Expo.
What is the most exciting or rewarding part of your work? What inspires your passion?
Joanne: I’m inspired by clever, disruptive, courageous or problem solving ideas. I also like getting to know the story of the product and the people behind it.
Kate: My job is amazing! I get to help empower people to fund their dreams. Everyday is different because I focus on helping people as they develop their go-to-market plans.
Abigail: I believe that Red Clay is changing how the retail industry thinks about product design. Knowing that I’m playing a key role in this movement toward more efficient, innovative and exquisite product design is really what helps me get out of bed in the morning or crack open my laptop at home after a long day in the office. Traditionally, it takes about 18 months for a retail company to bring a new product to market, and a lot of that time is in the design phase. Nowadays, retail companies know they need to build better, more differentiated products in order to draw consumers who are holding their hard-earned dollars more closely and less likely to be loyal to a single brand. The brands that work with us have embraced the idea that having more, high-quality ideas leads to a better product. On top of that, they’re finding that using our platform to manage these projects saves them a lot of time. A typical project for us takes about three months — more than 80% shorter than the typical production cycle.
As a former urban planner, it’s in my blood to believe that bringing the right people together leads to great things. It’s pretty exciting to know that we’re creating a win-win situation for retailers, who are able to build a better product more quickly, and for designers, who are able to land high-impact work and get compensated fairly for it.
Lisa: The most rewarding part of my work is seeing that people cook the most delicious meal of their lives and share that with their friends and family! I love making a product that helps people become the innovators and creators they were born to be. I am so inspired by people who make things, whether it’s 3D printers, dresses or food.
In the past few years, what has changed most in your business? How has your company met these challenges in the way you do your work?
Joanne: We’re optimistic about the trends that we see and our business alignment with those trends. Our mission is rooted in the philosophy of Citizen Commerce, a movement that promotes product purchases that express powerful contemporary values around sustainability, quality, technology and social enterprise.
Kate: Indiegogo launched the crowdfunding industry in January 2008. Since then, the industry has experienced significant growth. In all, crowdfunding platforms have raised some $2.7 billion and successfully funded more than a million campaigns in 2012, according to a Massolution report, with an 81% increase to $5.1 billion in 2013. By 2025, the global crowdfunding market could reach between $90 billion and $96 billion — roughly 1.8 times the size of the global venture capital industry today, according to a 2013 study commissioned by the World Bank.
Abigail: Red Clay actually started out as a brand of sustainable home decor products manufactured in the United States. We thought the best way to build our brand was to bring the right people together to develop the designs, have the public vote on the designs they liked and then bring those designs to the market. At the time, there weren’t many home decor items that were both sustainable and beautiful, and we believed we were filling a void in the market. We built the online platform to make the design and voting process possible, got great placements in some of the biggest trade shows in the country, but found manufacturing and sales distribution incredibly difficult.
We met a lot of people at these trade shows, and we realized that they were really drawn to the idea of connecting the right people to simplify the design process and make it more efficient. No one was doing that. That was about three years ago. We took a good look at the marketplace, a good look in the mirror, and decided it was time to pivot. We dropped the idea of making and selling our own products and became a technology platform that connects brands to industrial and graphic designers. We’ve really honed our product — a combination of talent pool and design process and management tool — allowing designers and brands to easily go from idea to manufacture-ready drawings in a matter of weeks instead of months. Our clients tell us that Red Clay is making design fun again!
Lisa: So much has changed… but mostly our customer. We made Nomiku from the ground up to be a tool for the home cook but many high-end restaurants rely on it every day. Noma used over 12 of our machines during their stint in Japan. Saison uses it here in San Francisco. Alta makes their cocktails with a Nomiku. It is definitely a different experience to interact with my heroes and I am loving every moment of the challenge of meeting their expectations.
Why did you choose to speak at the International Home + Housewares Show?
Joanne: The Maker Movement is facilitating all sorts of innovation by empowering small business and independent entrepreneurs to create, innovate and succeed. It’s this movement that is fueling the growth in our business and we are always happy to have opportunities, like speaking at this Show, to share what we are witnessing and learning.
Kate: The home is evolving and getting smarter. We have seen so many incredible products developed through our platform, including Canary, an amazing home security device, to Dolfi, the next generation washing machine. People want to make their homes better, and it’s amazing to see entrepreneurs creating products to do just that.
Abigail: Speaking at this Show is a very big deal for Red Clay, and I am thrilled. This Show attracts such incredible brands and smart minds in the industry. It’s an opportunity to see new products from around the world and to learn from all of these great companies and thought leaders. I’m a total extrovert, so shows are always fun for me. Many of our current customers will attend, as well as many of the brands we would love to meet. I know there’s something to learn from everyone at this conference, so it’s a huge honor to have a platform among such a distinguished group of presenters and such an influential audience.
Lisa: I think my business is not housewares as usual. My company uses different technologies—for instance, my heater is actually a semi-conductor. I also don’t know of many appliances that cross-pollinate technological disciplines and use the newer sources of financing.
Tell us what you will be speaking about and how and this topic is important for Show audiences.
Joanne: The Maker Movement is empowering independent people to create, fund, manufacture, distribute and sell their own goods. There is a huge shift in the way that products come to market. Everyone should know about and understand the new technology platforms that are democratizing access to information, capital and customers.
Kate: I’ll be speaking about how the Maker movement is changing the landscape. It’s no longer just big companies bringing products to life. Now, thanks to crowdfunding, your next door neighbor might just create the next big thing.
Abigail: We’re sharing the stage with some of our friends involved in the crowdsourcing world — Joanne at The Grommet, Kate from Indiegogo and Lisa of Nomiku—to help people in the home decor world better understand how harnessing the power of the crowd can lead to incredible results. I’m a firm believer that many minds and ideas are better than one. We hope the Show audience will walk away from our presentation with a better sense of how and why crowdsourcing can be a game changer for their businesses, plus different ways to maximize efficiency and manage a project that involves outside players.
Lisa: I’ll be speaking about the only thing I know, my experience in crowdfunding!
What are you looking forward to most from speaking at the Innovation Theater?
Abigail: Aside from the potential opportunity to meet my fangirl crush Ree Drummond (the Pioneer Woman), I’m excited for the opportunity to talk about our particular brand of crowdsourcing — I like to call it crowdsourcing 2.0. Red Clay is at the forefront of a huge shift in how retailers do their product design and development, and I believe our platform provides a real value-add in terms of managing projects with external partners and making product development efficient and enjoyable.
Lisa: I hope that some people will come up to me afterwards and we’ll become friends.
What do you see as consumers’ biggest concerns regarding housewares products?
Abigail: In this increasingly busy world, I think products that offer functionality and simplicity along with beauty will go furthest with consumers. I don’t think consumers necessarily want more stuff. I think they want stuff that will make their daily lives as simple as possible so that they have time for the things that really matter — time with friends and family, and time to do things they actually enjoy doing.
Lisa: That they are getting the best, of course!
What are some of today’s trends or issues that new product development professionals and/or retailers face in the housewares market?
Kate: Connected home is HUGE! We see this as a space that will continue to grow as people better understand the needs of the market and push what is possible. The sky is the limit to what you can create.
Abigail: Much has been written about retail’s “omni-channel” future, but there has been little coverage on the tremendous pressure big, traditional retailers are under to make better and more differentiated products faster in order to compete with the myriad options available through online retailers like Amazon. Retailers really have to work hard to win consumer dollars. There’s a strong link between all the stories you read about the middle class feeling squeezed due to the economy and the stories about dead and dying shopping malls. The majority of Americans have less money to throw around than they did 10 or 15 years ago, and they’re going to hold out for the right product and the right customer experience. They’re going to hold out for products that make their lives easier so they can focus on the things that really matter to them. In this day and age, creating more relevant products in a timely way holds the key to winning consumers over.
As for product development professionals, we’re seeing some really big companies with long-held traditions of how to do product development become open to innovation and change. As expectations for design quality rise in the industry overall, we think there will be increased opportunities for independent designers to work with big brands, and there will be more pressure on product development folks inside established companies to find fresh talent and ideas.
Lisa: I think a cool trend is rapid prototyping in the United States. I’ve written a bit about it for MAKE magazine.
Thank you, Joanne, Kate and Abigail! This is sure to be an exciting discussion. The Theater might barely contain the energy forces emanating from the four of you. You will inspire the audience for Sunday’s first program. We look forward to learning from your experiences at the front of industrial revolution in the Innovation Theater on Sunday, March 8 at 9:30.
Co-Founder, The Grommet
To learn about Lisa Fetterman’s journey in forming Nomiku and launching its sous vide immersion circulator visit booth L11061 in the Lakeside Center Wired + Well expo and view this video.
International Home + Housewares Show, International Housewares Association, Members
Tags: Abigail Kiefer, Indiegogo, Inspiring Innovation, Joanne Domeniconi, Kate Drane, Lisa Q. Fetterman, Nomiku, Red Clay, The Grommet