How does a great product actually come about?

Some people just buy a product, use it, and never think about it again. It is sufficient to them to know that it actually works. But the rest of us – let’s call us ‘industrial romantics’ - ache to know how a great product sees the light of day, and this blog is for them.

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Take our Classic British Biscuit Cutters, for example. The idea was born 4 years ago on a half-completed Chinese motorway while two of our Directors, Roger and John, were being driven to see a new factory in Dongguan. The driver was utterly mad and so, to take their mind off the dangers of the journey, they applied themselves to closing their eyes, and coming up with a great product idea. Most were forgettable, if we’re honest, but then John suddenly said: “How about a kit that allows you to make classic British biscuits? You know, Bourbons, Custard Creams etc.”

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They thought about it, sketched out the idea, narrowly missed a couple of rickshaws coming in the opposite direction, and went back to discuss it the next day with one of the designers they work with in Hong Kong. And so the idea took shape. They decided on having four simple, spring-operated presses. Meanwhile, back at the office, people started rising to the challenge of identifying the best four biscuit shapes to make, and, after respecting registered names, we ended up with Bourbon, Custard Cream, Jam Treats and Party Rings.

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The designer came back with some amazing CAD (computer aided design) images, which we sent to a factory, asking important questions like how much tooling would we need. And what would it cost. Once we‘d sorted that, the team thought about what colour each press should be. How big. And what the all important packaging should be like. To do this better, we talked to a few of our favourite cookshop owners, and the consensus was “in a tray, in a pack with an acetate window, like, er, a packet of biscuits”. Even then we spent another six or seven months just getting the tooling right, so that when you pressed it you could get the right amount of pressure to produce a perfect, well-defined biscuit.

Once all that was done, and we were happy with the adjusted tooling, we selected a factory to make it in large quantities, ordered several thousand and at last we were ready to talk to the world about it. We took some prototypes to a trade show, and thought it would be fun to take along about 20 pots of different coloured Play-Doh, instead of biscuit mix, and spent the next 5 days trying to stop passing kids mixing all the Play-Doh up into something greeny-brown!

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Finally our first production samples arrived. We sent them to a few of our favourite magazines and bloggers, set up a pick bay for them in the warehouse and started to ship them out to our customers.

That’s why we are proud to be industrial romantics!