Unlace. The backstory.
Hi. We are Cindy and Dante, two pals from way back. We love our iPhones but hate those tangled earbuds. All that beauty wound into a frustrating mess. Sigh.
Unlace. What is it?
So, we put our heads together and created a simple, colorful, and fun companion for organizing all the cords and cables that are part and parcel of our increasingly digital lives. We took inspiration from a simple source, a sneaker, and designed Unlace, a reusable silicone shoelace for untangling a few of life's little, and annoying, problems. We’ve created a 5” Unlace for small cords. And, a 10” Unlace for burly cables.
The Unlace is reusable and has a silky matte silicone finish with the texture of a shoelace. A few gentle turns and it will coil around and hold most anything.
Knotted ear buds? Gone.
Tangled power cord? Not anymore.
Unlace. The Reward Sets.
The Unlace Citrus Set. Four 5" Unlaces - one each in white, yellow, orange, and pink.
The Unlace Forest Set. Four 5" Unlaces - one each in green, blue, silver, and black.
The Unlace Rainbow Set. Eight 10" Unlaces - one each in white, yellow, orange, pink, green, blue, silver, and black.
Unlace. The Team and the Plan.
We've always kicked around product ideas playing “sketch on a napkin” and decided to take this one seriously. Between the two of us we had complimentary skill sets that covered us from conception to design to manufacture to market. We got to work.
We leveraged Dante's extensive product design education and work background to develop the initial concept. Then, we assembled a team of friends and colleagues who could help us work through the engineering and prototype phases.
Rob Denis, a mechanical engineer who exclusively works on new product development, refined Dante’s designs and built what turned out to be quite tedious, painstaking CAD models. (We appreciate Rob’s relentless attention to detail.)
Then, Nick Riddle, an industrial designer with a background in designing and manufacturing bicycle parts and components, used Rob’s CAD to get down and dirty with models built using a 3D printer. Nick hand placed the internal wire frames and endured an incredibly sticky messy process of hand-pouring goo into the mold cavities for early prototypes. (Imagine pouring sap back into a tree.) He graciously repeated this process several times while we worked out problems and experimented with color. This phase allowed us to test several prototypes and optimize elements of the lace we considered important: length, coating, and durometer as well as wire strength, configuration and flexibility.
With Nick’s workable hand-made prototypes in hand, Cindy drew from her business background and network to research manufacturing options. The goal was to find a partner able to produce a high quality product who could also help us manage costs and operate within an achievable time frame. We found a manufacturing partner in Xiao Ping, a talented engineer and business owner based in China. We've worked closely with him to develop pre-production prototypes and a manufacturing plan that can scale to production-quality goods. He understands the Kickstarter model and wants to work with us to create a great experience for supporters.
Unlace. The Kickstarter Project.
We have almost all of the pieces in place. With a little support from the Kickstarter community, we can meet our goals. The project target of $10,000 will allow us to finish paying for the molds and start our first production run to create Unlaces for reward packages. Our goal is to bring products back to the US for shipment in time for the holiday season. To that end, as soon as we cross the funded threshold for our project, our manufacturing partner will allow us to place our first production order to fulfill rewards. Based on best available information, we believe production will take roughly two weeks, with a few more days for the shipment to arrive via FedEx in the US. If we cross our goal early, we could be ready to ship within a few days of the project closing. If we cross our goal at the project close, we expect to ship within 4-6 weeks.
We will start fulfillment as soon as we receive the Unlaces. All rewards within the US will ship via USPS Priority Mail with a 2-3 day delivery expectation. Any international orders will be subject to longer shipping times. The sooner we cross that funded goal line, the sooner supporters will get their rewards. We tried to create reward levels that could appeal to any appetite and we are optimistic that we can get everyone's items in their mail boxes before the gift giving season arrives.
If you have any questions, please drop us a line! We'd love to hear from you!
Risks and challenges
Every manufacturing project has risk in shifting from prototype to production. We want supporters to be over-the-moon happy with the experience they have with us and with Kickstarter. To that end, we've worked hard to think through contingencies and mitigate risk.
(1) We spent a lot of time developing and testing working prototypes. We worked extensively to establish the qualities we wanted to achieve with Unlace and showed the prototypes to various experts to get opinions on where we might encounter difficulties.
(2) We devoted resources to developing manufacturing pre-production prototypes. We worked closely with our manufacturing partner to leverage what we learned from our prototyping phase and choose the correct wire configuration, color recipes, and addressed other hiccups that don’t show up until this phase of product development.
(3) We had long conversations with Xiao Ping about timing and lead times. The most time consuming part of the production process is the setup and getting temperatures set correctly for compressing the silicone. Once humming, the production goes relatively quickly and our partner could produce many thousands of laces in about two weeks or less. The items are small and light and suitable for FedEx delivery back to the US.
(4) We developed a Plan B if our project wildly exceed funding/reward expectations. We have budgeted our time based on achieving our funding goal of $10,000 in 30 days. However, if we are lucky enough to encounter a wildly successful project and achieve our goal early or significantly exceed our goal, and thereby our reward production expectations, our manufacturing partner is prepared. We will quickly coordinate to ensure that we can hit our stated targets. We have chosen molds that can endure hundreds of thousands of laces. And, if necessary to meet timing targets, we can quickly make additional molds. Our partner understands the Kickstarter model and is willing to allow us to go into production as soon as we cross the funding goal, even if the project has not closed. This arrangement will help us ensure delivery in a timely manner, and mitigate any burden of unexpected success.
(5) We have a communication platform and value transparency. We've talked to everyone we know who has experience manufacturing a product similar to ours and tried to think through and address potential issues. While we believe we've done the best we can possibly do, it is possible that something new and different could happen that we didn't expect. Should that unlikely, but possible, situation occur, we believe our best plan is to communicate quickly with as much transparency as possible. To that end, we have a communication platform established with anticipated updates, as well as a mechanism to reach out to supporters quickly if something unexpected or beyond our control happens.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)