Origin Story

Oh man, first post! It's taken me a while to get around to putting thoughts on a page, but it seems like a timely occasion. For first time readers, and folks that don't know me personally, now seems as good a time as any to start from the beginning and catch you up my story till now. 

You see, yesterday marked the 4 year anniversary of my first step in starting this business - creating the original prototypes. I built them by hand, and I feel that my memory of that time is wrapped up in that particular tactile experience. I had all kinds of crazy flashbacks and nostalgia looking at the pictures below, thinking about what life was like then, and what it's like now. 

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For about a year at the point that I'd taken those pictures, I'd been working at a textiles company doing design work in their retail division (clothing, soft goods, etc). I was learning a lot about the creation of brands, production, and merchandising. It was good. I had a great boss who is still a friend and mentor to me, good co-workers, and a pretty comfortable income. I also had a shop... A workshop that I would do projects in on nights and weekends, whenever I could. It was there that I started bringing this idea for Nest to life. 

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I had fallen in love with cast iron during my time in school. I studied Industrial Design at RISD, and I was fortunate enough to be able to take a class there focusing on the cast iron process. I dove in head first and eyes wide, and it changed my life. I loved the process. Considering all the aspects - draft of the pattern, flow of the metal, shrinkage of the casting as it cooled, and repeatability in production - came naturally to me. It seemed easy for me to begin to think as if I were inside a mold itself... This was the first piece I ever made, a Cresset, designed to light a path. Modular, able to stack top on bottom, bottom on top, multiples on top of each other to make a totem of fire. 

A note for some of the nerds reading this, you'll notice my love for sci-fi. Definitely took some form inspiration from Darth Vader's meditation chamber...

A note for some of the nerds reading this, you'll notice my love for sci-fi. Definitely took some form inspiration from Darth Vader's meditation chamber...

I translated that love of molding and those principles of production to other projects and jobs after school. I spent time interning at NASA, working with a helmet company working under several government contracts, and helping a good friend spec out and build large scale cast iron pieces for his furniture business. I even found myself back at RISD for a time as the metal shop technician - looking after students and taking care of the machines in the same shop that I'd been trained in. It was after that particular job that I ended up at the textiles company. As I mentioned before - that was a really good job, with good people. But I was still hellbent on being able to make things with my hands in my own shop. So, after about a year and a half of working for them, I cordially left to try and start my own business.

From then till now has been a series of explosive bursts of progress, and [equally as powerful, but in a more frustrating nature] periods of standstills and uncertainties.

Kickstarter was and is awesome. In retrospect, I realize that I could've done things differently, possibly better. I learned a lot from my success and my missteps.

Kickstarter was and is awesome. In retrospect, I realize that I could've done things differently, possibly better. I learned a lot from my success and my missteps.

I launched Nest Homeware through Kickstarter at the end of 2013. That campaign was incredibly validating of this idea I'd been trying to make real. It was amazing. It was thrilling. It was really hard afterwards... Production took SO much longer than anticipated based on a few [very important] things, and to my dismay, I became a very typical Kickstarter story - great product, successful campaign, years to fulfill... I was pretty ashamed during that time, honestly. It was really demoralizing and regrettable to have promised so much to folks and be unable to make good on my word. It took a long time - too long - but I did it.

Following fulfillment (about a year and a half ago) I got a design grant from the City of Providence to step into higher volume production, and since then everything thing has been moving much faster. I partnered with a great company to help produce my cookware - they've been in the cast iron business since 1880, so they know a thing or two about how it's done... I took my cookware to the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago this past March and even got the approval from Henry Lodge himself!

Henry Lodge, as in, Lodge Mfg. You know, probably the largest, most well known manufacturer of cast iron cookware in the world right now. No big deal...

Henry Lodge, as in, Lodge Mfg. You know, probably the largest, most well known manufacturer of cast iron cookware in the world right now. No big deal...

Since the show I've been working to try and bring Nest into more stores. I've got a few things going on online, but I really want people to be able to see these pans in person, feeling them in your hands, it's a much different experience than looking at photos on a screen. Y'all can help on that front if you like - let your local (or large, that's fine too!) cookware store know that you want to see Nest in there!

I'm working on new products too - more cookware, other kitchen and table top items. I'll show more of that here as it comes to life...

Oh yeah - my partner [Rue] and I are buying a house as well. We close in two days. (WHAAAAT?!) That's going to be an incredible adventure. More on that in later posts...

And I'm starting this thing, this blog, this intro to the hopefully long and ongoing story of Nest! I'm starting it, but I won't be the only one writing it... Nest has been about building a home from the beginning, and to me, home centers around family, friends, and food. There are some wonderful people that will be contributing to the blog as well. Some of them I've known for years, others I've been lucky enough to meet in just the past few months. All of us will be sharing snippets of our lives, recipes, and stories - more than likely centering around a good meal.

More to come...

Matt Cavallaro