About this project
Upgrade your Cooking Experience
If you're like us, you love to cook. The limitless creativity, spontaneous gatherings, and unique satisfaction with every bite of something you made. It never gets old.
And to make the most of this experience, great cookware is essential. But confusing features, indiscernible brands, and needlessly high prices make finding a great product at an affordable price really tough. So we set out to fix the problem and are thrilled to share the result:
Exceptional American-made cookware at a fair price.
Every piece ships directly from the domestic factory. No outdated distribution, no celebrity royalties, no unnecessary features.
Just beautiful cookware, designed with a century of experience, at up to half the cost of competitors.
What Makes Great Cookware?
A few things to consider:
- heat distribution and retention
- ease of use and maintenance
- handle comfort
- weight and balance
- reactivity with food
- build quality
Over the past year, we've experimented with all sorts of possibilities to arrive at a product line that hits the perfect balance.
Our friends agree!
A Fair Price
We've all seen the exorbitant list prices, "door crasher!!!" sales, and other confusing sales tactics on cookware. But the biggest issue, of all things, is actually an oligopoly.
It turns out that almost every brand on store shelves is owned by a small handful of massive, largely foreign conglomerates. They have immense control over manufacturing and distribution, resulting in needlessly high prices and reduced quality.
Even some brands who pride themselves on being American-made are actually owned overseas. To avoid this whole situation, we formed a close partnership with an independently-owned, domestic factory. By doing so, we are able to earn a fair margin while still delivering exceptional cookware.
Confusing tactics creating the illusion of a good deal, like artificially inflated list prices, are also hugely problematic. That's why our pricing is clear, transparent, and based on the true value of the product.
We take the production cost, add a fair margin, and call it a day. Novel, right?
Every piece of Marie + Merrill is made with three metals layered all the way up the sides of each vessel. The outer layer is magnetic stainless steel, the middle is aluminum, and the cooking surface is 18/10 stainless steel.
The magnetic layer ensures every piece is induction-ready, the aluminum core provides excellent thermal properties, and 18/10 is the most sanitary cooking surface and non-reactive with all foods. The result is one continuous piece which heats evenly and looks beautiful.
Most stainless steel cookware brands use a cheaper method of construction, only layering metals on the base by attaching a separate disc of aluminum. This type of cookware heats unevenly and the discs can become loose and detach.
Our cookware brings the perfect combination of all essential factors, with a weight and balance that will feel just right in your hand. Every piece is dishwasher and oven-safe up to 500 degrees, and the handles always stay cool on a hot stove.
Throughout this process, we learned that cookware really didn't need new features or major changes. It needed simplification, and we're thrilled to share this simple product line with you. It's everything you need and nothing you don't.
The Product Line
While most cookware brands try to sell you on the number of pieces in a set, we're taking a more flexible approach. We want you to have the freedom to purchase a set if it has what you need, or individual items if you already have some cookware you love.
Either way, you won't need to buy a huge set with lots of things you'll never use to get a fair price on each item. Here's every piece we're offering:
When planning this project, we spent a great deal of time gathering feedback to learn which items would be used most. Much of the process actually involved ruling out certain items that may be not be frequently used, in an effort to make the process of choosing what you need as easy as possible. We considered different handles and vessel sizes, ultimately ending up with what's offered in this campaign.
Over time, we'll be introducing new products and continuously improving on existing ones. Like with all Kickstarter projects, this is a starting point. We have been blown away by the response and now feel very confident about our original assumptions. Here are some of the ideas we're working on for the next iteration of cookware products:
- Welded handles instead of riveted. This ensures that the cooking surface is completely smooth, making cleaning as easy as possible.
- At scale, we will be able to use 5-ply metals to make each vessel, which are found on even more expensive cookware than what we are comparing the rewards in this campaign with. The outer layer of 5-ply cookware is stainless, the middle three layers are aluminum, and the cooking surface is stainless again.
- We are also experimenting with a universal lid design for our future products. This will both simplify the product line and reduce clutter in your kitchen.
- Here are some [very] rough sketches of what we have in mind:
If you’re wondering why our rewards differ from these concepts, it’s simply because project creators aren't permitted to offer products under development as rewards, as per Kickstarter’s rules about prototypes.
We've spent over a year learning everything about the cookware industry. Remember Bubba from Forrest Gump's mastery of the shrimping industry? That's us, but with pots and pans.
In our research, we learned that certain materials and techniques used to manufacture cookware overseas can be questionable, and that a product used to prepare food shouldn't leave anything to chance.
Much worse, a lot of the cookware on store shelves comes from a very ugly situation:
Being extremely sensitive to this, we determined that the only way to do this right was to make everything in the good ol' USA. There are only a few independent factories still operating in North America, and of those, the one we're working with has the right combination of technology, expertise, and a track record of building amazing products at scale.
After dozens of phone calls, emails, and site visits, we got to work creating the perfect cookware line.
As a token of the pride brought by the craftspeople making these products, the base of every vessel has a unique serial number which tells us exactly who made it by hand on the factory floor.
Every box of Marie + Merrill will include a hand-signed card from the person that finished that particular piece.
It's this pride of craftsmanship that makes this an incredibly exciting and rewarding project for us, and soon a long-lasting business.
What's in a Name?
Lots! We named the company after our grandparents, Marie and Merrill.
Marie was a self-taught chef and the most endearing type of mischievous. Every recipe she gave out always seemed to be missing a key ingredient or two. Sometimes secrets are just secrets.
Merrill was an American factory worker and self-taught craftsman who built a home for his family by hand, which is still enjoyed today. He didn't have any formal experience in carpentry, but still figured out how to build a great product.
We think there are elements of both these stories in our brand and we hope our products help you experiment and learn the same way they did.
The Campaign and About Us
With a successful campaign, we'll be able to start production and focus on creating the absolute best cookware buying experience in the world. From there, we'll roll out new product lines of other kitchen essentials with the same formula: Everything you need, nothing you don't, made in the USA.
We bring years of experience in direct-to-consumer brands, online commerce, startups...and cooking!
The manufacturer brings 100+ years of cookware manufacturing and design experience, and the type of history only a few companies can call their own. We think it's a pretty amazing combination. We're also working with Backerkit to keep things simple post-campaign :)
Risks and challenges
Our manufacturer has been thoroughly vetted and is fully capable of producing highly crafted products at scale. The fact that they are domestic is also a huge benefit when it comes to monitoring progress and build quality.
That said, the biggest risk to our project is still timing, as it is with almost any hardware project. Unforeseen bumps do happen sometimes. But we promise to communicate as openly as possible should our delivery estimates need to change. You'll never be left in the dark!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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