If there is one thing I've learned in starting my own business, designing a new product and launching a brand, it's... well, let's be honest, it's not just one thing, I've learned about a million things!
Toolaloo began as something I wanted to make my everyday trips to the grocery store easier.
My inspiration came from being a busy mom, from wanting to do my part to live a greener life, and from the idea that we could do better.
I actually made the very first one out of modeling clay.
In 2017, bolstered by positive initial feedback, I decided it was time to really get serious about my invention: a tool to make shopping with reusable bags easier. Even if I didn't successfully launch Toolaloo, I knew the journey would undoubtedly lead me somewhere meaningful along the way.
Over the past year, I have learned things I never thought I would: I've toured factories and learned the difference between PC/ABS and PP and HDPE plastic. I worked with engineers, manufacturers, patent lawyers, accountants, and business advisors. I've picked textures, packaging, worked on brand guidelines and agonized over every single adjustment down to the hundredths of a millimeter.
I sourced 20 different manufacturer quotes. I communicated across industries - from mold makers to photographers and nearly everyone in between.
I learned that there are nearly infinite shades of blue. When I decided to use navy blue and coral as the primary brand colors, I had no idea how difficult it would be to find the perfect shade of blue and then have it translate across manufacturing, web, and print. Virtually impossible!
With moving parts, every hundredth of a millimeter counts. Each prototype revealed different necessary tweaks in texture, draft, durometer and more. Each adjustment required months of lead time.
I also learned the value of patience. You'd think I would already have mastered this as a mom of two, but this was an entirely different sort of patience!
As Toolaloo became more of a part of me, I learned to better define it's voice - my voice, really. I learned what I wanted and what I didn't want. One of my biggest revelations was that no one knows the product like I do.
This product's launch has been my mission for nearly two years (a lot longer than I ever expected!).
Looking back, I don't regret much because I have learned from everything, but I do know a lot more about myself now than when I started.
Staying true to the Toolaloo brand meant staying true to myself. I've learned to trust myself (and my gut) during this process in ways I didn't do before.
Even when 900 other people - everyone from the grocery store checkout clerk to your next-door neighbor - are telling you 899 different things (which are all very well-intentioned, by the way) - trust yourself. Create a plan and stick to it.
Everywhere I turned, there was another decision to be made for the product. Each decision could make or break my goal of an environmentally-friendly product.
I agonized over every detail from product packaging, choosing to use more sustainable vegetable-based inks and recycled materials wherever I could. I also chose to use a post-industrial material to make the Toolaloo itself, which will save thousands of pounds of plastic from being simply thrown away.
My whole mission in this project has been to help people live a greener life.
This isn't just a product for me; it's a tool that will improve people's lives and, ultimately, our planets health.
You only get one chance to launch a new product, and for Toolaloo and me this is it. I'm ready. Let's do this!
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