Our brand started as an idea. A way to connect the things we loved to a product that we wanted to make. This is the story of how it all started. From the first glimmer of our idea through our trials and tribulations and ultimately to our success on Kickstarter and beyond. We are a team of three friends that together have over 30 years of experience in product design, engineering, and marketing, and all were searching for something to focus on energy on outside of our day jobs.
The Big Idea
We were looking for a creative outlet and landed on a big idea that blended some of our favorite things:
Local craft beer + Deep love of the mountains
Product innovation + Premium design
+ All things made in the USA.
Over a night of beers in Portland, OR, the concept of North Drinkware was born.
We started with the USGS 3d data of Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier and Half Dome and began to explore the design for both pints and tumblers. This is also when we submitted for patents on our first set of original designs.
After we designed the glass and we made 3D prints of our design to see the concept come to life. We then used the 3D printing process again to create the plaster molds that we would test the concept with. Our process was a combination of modern technology and the age-old craft of glassblowing.
Working nights and weekends, we built plaster molds in the garage and imagined what the future of North Drinkware could be over beers.
At this point, we weren’t sure if our product idea was even possible.
Working with the team at Elements Glass we began to blow our first glasses late into the night. We failed fast, learned a lot, and continued to refine our approach to keep moving forward. Our plaster molds only lasted for one or two glasses, but we were encouraged enough to keep going.
After burning through many molds and tons of time, we began to get glasses that resembled our idea. We were inventing our process and proving that our concept could be produced.
Our First Cheers
After lots of failure, we finally got a glass we could pour a beer into. We had proven that our concept could be made. Now it was time to build our brand and business.
Set a Date
We decided to launch our concept on Kickstarter in early 2015. We chose this route because we wanted to see how a broader community responded to our brand and idea. We also needed help to fund the production molds & inventory to get up and going.
It took a lot of trial and error to get our video and content to be a reflection of our vision. Part of this project for us was challenging ourselves to do as much of the work ourselves as possible. The early results of this were terrible, but we kept moving through the process to improve.
We tirelessly refined our story and our creative process. Thanks to a little help from family and friends our video, and launch assets were now looking good and ready to share with the world.
On Super Bowl Sunday 2015 we launched our Kickstarter campaign for The Oregon Pint. We asked for $15,000 to cover the investment in production molds and inventory and crossed our fingers. We spread the word to everyone we knew, lined up some launch PR and hoped for the best.
30 Crazy Days
With the campaign live, we were amazed to see the interest in The Oregon Pint grow so quickly. We raised over $530,000 from 5,620 amazing backers in 30 days. From the New York Times to reddit, The Oregon Pint was everywhere and North Drinkware was born.
Making on Making
By the fall, we were able to produce and deliver nearly 13,000 Oregon Pints to our loyal Kickstarter backers. There were too many challenges to list, but in the end, we accomplished our goal, with way more excitement around our brand than we ever expected and had thousands of satisfied customers.
In this time, we had to figure out our entire production process. That included our molding process, cold working technique, setting up a fulfillment warehouse, managing packaging, and building an e-commerce website just to name a few. We'll revisit many of these in future Journal articles.
On to the Next
We launched The Washington Pint featuring Mt. Rainier in the fall of 2015, tumblers in early 2016, and continued to celebrate some of the most beloved peaks in the United States in the following years.
By the spring of 2017 our patents were issued for our original set of designs. At this point, many sub-quality brands began to replicate our concept and designs. Uncool, we know. Protecting intellectual property is extremely expensive and time-consuming, and as a small brand it just pushed us to work harder and be better. When you support original ideas, you're a part of progression. We thank all of our customers who continue to support a true original every day.
The Mt. Hood Blanket
We ventured back to Kickstarter in the spring of 2018 to expand what North Drinkware could be known for. We launched The Mt. Hood Blanket featuring the USGS geology map of Mt. Hood. Manufactured In Oregon by the legendary Pendleton Woolen Mills. Our second, successful Kickstarter campaign delivered new ways to bring the mountains home.
The Mt. Rainier Blanket
We followed up the successful launch of our Mt. Hood Blanket with The Mt. Rainier Blanket. Our dedication to made in the USA products that celebrate the mountains continue to drive us forward every day.
We have ambitious goals for 2020, even in these uncertain times. Stay tuned to see how we continue to grow North and live up to our goals: making premium products in the United States that let you bring the mountains home in more ways.