Founderoo caught up with Jessie to hear the story of her business, Brooke Water. This is a lovely story of how family invention has created a stunning water bottle with a unique filter system.
Tell us what your company does?
The mission and inception of the company is based on the concept of sustainability. We are aiming to reduce plastic waste bottles and promote conscious consumerism.
Our goal is to replace any type of water bottle that is needed, whether it be adventuring in the wild or the concrete jungle. Plastic bottles are one of the greatest contributors to pollution, 80% of all plastic bottles we use end up in landfills. This in itself is a compelling reason for us as a business.
We believe that a sustainable and socially responsible product doesn’t necessarily mean that the customer suffers either. Our aim is to produce a line of products that satisfy both the consumer’s need for contribution to social impact as well as their own lifestyles. We believe reaching this balance will help promote the positive cycle of companies building more socially responsible products.
How did you come up with the idea?
Talking to creatives I’d met through the Design Montage community about what they loved about the site—it all kept coming back to the fact that it helped them launch or catapult their creative career.
So I began to think about how I could continue to do this for upcoming artists while also creating a tangible product (to sell) that we were both really proud of?
Also, being a graphic designer for so many years, I loved paper and designing around the colours or texture of paper, so I began mocking up notebooks with potential names and designs.
How did you come up with the name of the business?
I wanted a name that is relevant to what we do. Brooke literally means a small stream of clean water. It is steady yet constant, which is our approach to doing things. We want to achieve our mission and get people to come along on the journey with us one small step (or stream) at a time. Also, you can use our bottle to filter river/lake water, so that is also applicable!
How did you go about building the business?
The concept took about a year to come up with, and 6 months to design with lots of iterations in between. I had the idea after doing lots of competitor and market research - we then engaged our design agency to come up with the design together.
It was a very symbiotic process, we went to our designers with only a concept of how we wanted the product to be used. We also made sure that our design agency was as obsessed with sustainability and user experience as we were.
It took a while to come up with the design, but the end result was well worth the effort. Building a physical product is different yet similar to building a digital product, the concept and steps are similar, however, the execution is wildly different.
One of the biggest challenges to building an ergonomic physical product is the amount of time it takes to correct any sort of mistake, and testing the market also takes a lot more time and effort.
One of the biggest tips for designing and manufacturing a physical product is to visit your factories and get to know your manufacturers personally. It also helps to really understand the manufacturing process in order to avoid delays and any sort of miscommunication during the manufacturing process.
What did you need to do for the launch?
We did a soft launch whereby we introduced our products to selected family, friends and media outlets a few months before launch. This allowed us to adjust our pricing and also content, as well as confirm our target market.
Paid social campaigns were also a large part of our launch to help us A/B test our content. We also utilised a PR agency to help us gain momentum. The launch was slow at first and yet slowly and steadily generated more traction the longer we ran our campaigns.
How have you grown the business?
We are still in the process of launching the product so it hasn’t grown too much so far. One of our biggest and most exciting strategies is to partner with lots of other local brands and businesses who are in the same domain as well as have similar missions as us.
Whilst the growth is more steady than an explosion, this has proven most satisfactory and exciting for both us and our customers in the long run.
What have been some of your biggest failures along the way?
I relied too heavily on my manufacturing agent to do the leg work for me when it came to manufacturing. I thought part of being an entrepreneur is outsourcing and delegating tasks. However, it turns out that you still need a basic knowledge of the task itself in order to properly delegate it.
I trusted our manufacturers to do the quality control process and did not manage the process nearly closely enough - when we first started this resulted in all 500 first products being defective.
I never thought this could happen, but apparently, it did. It was a very expensive lesson to understand that you need to be involved in the build and execution process.
What’s your biggest selling product?
What day to day digital tools do you use?
What book has been a great inspiration to you as a founder?
What are the biggest pieces of advice you’d give to other founders?
Find your tribe and work hard to build a community around you. This will help with everything from up-keeping your mental health to raising funds and making connections.
What keeps you up at night regarding your business?
Being able to pay bills and breaking even definitely keeps me up at night. It worries me as to when that will happen and whether it will happen.
What's the biggest surprise you've had as a founder
The biggest surprise is how it has lead me to my tribe of people who hold the same values and drive for zest in life. I used to think I was alone on this journey, but I’ve since met so many incredible friends who are my support community.
Have you ever felt like quitting, if so why?
I’ve felt like giving up and quitting many times, and I believe I will in the future too. Things that drive that feeling will be quiet months, friends and family not understanding what you do, peer pressure - and the sheer loneliness of being a single entrepreneur.
What do you do to look after your mental health while running your business?
Exercising is a must, you often know that you are stressed when it takes 4.5 min to run a 5 min run. I have my own routines, morning self standup and night time check-ins. When things get hard or busy, that’s when I must force myself and double down to not stray from my routines. They keep me grounded, if I lose the routine - I lose the entire day.
What quotes do you live by?
"Hard things are hard because you don’t know the answer and you cannot ask for help without showing weakness...embrace the struggle"
- Ben Horowitz
In a few words what does it mean to be the founder of a business?
Learn as you go, feel the doubt and move forward anyway. And be patient.