How We Flipped Our Lids for EcoJarz
EcoJarz was started by a group of friends who just so happened to have a lot of mason jars at home. Between canning tomatoes, fermenting kraut and storing bulk grains there were jars all over the kitchen. It was only natural that all of us, like so many others out there, would constantly end up using them as drinking vessels too. One fateful day in the winter of 2012, Kirby, who is always full of ideas, called a meeting to show off a simple invention. In his hands, he had drawings of a stainless steel lid to convert any mason jar into a reusable, plastic-free to-go cup.
We flipped our lids! And who could blame us? Now our jars could be legitimate water bottles and veritable coffee mugs. Best of all – using a stainless steel lid to fit standard and ubiquitous jars meant no more plastic coming in contact with our food and no more expensive proprietary canteens. Instead we had a high-quality product that we could use jar in and jar out. The multitude of uses, as they ran through our minds, went on and on!
The formula was simple and irresistible: Stainless Steel + Glass = <3
When we launched in August of 2012, from an off-grid homestead called the Dacha Project in Upstate New York, there was instant interest from around the world. We needed a way to fulfill the orders coming in, and couldn’t find a shipping center with our green ethics. So we decided to ship everything ourselves, with the most minimal packaging. We set up a makeshift shipping center on our dining room table, washing product in the dishwasher and completely taking over the house.
From the get-go we had to get super creative. We had an order of lids come in from our manufacturer that were way too sharp around the edges. Ouch! Desperate to save them, we spent a week figuring out a process to deburr them. At one point, we had the lids tumbling in a cement mixer with stainless steel bolts and $200 of nickels as media to smooth them out. We were so psyched when this did the trick, and got a boost of confidence that we could meet the challenges ahead. Since that time we have upgraded our metal-working equipment, and moved out of the house. The business and green shipping center now reside in the small and community-minded Village of Freeville, near Ithaca, NY, where most of us live.
People loved our first lids, but many folks asked if we could make a lid whose drinking hole could be plugged up to seal. Others pointed out that the Ball jar bands that come standard with mason jars tend to rust over time. And so we realized that there was much more work to be done! Excited to take on the challenge, we worked on a new drinking jar lid that was 100% spill proof, and before long our flagship product, the EcoJarz PopTop, was born. Making rust proof jar bands was a much bigger problem, and it seemed impossible to launch a stainless steel version. After two years of development, several failed prototypes, and tens of thousands of dollars we finally developed the first stainless steel jar band on the market. Thicker than the standard low grade steel Ball bands, these bands are designed to last a lifetime of use. They pair perfectly with all of our unique jar lids, because now nothing in the package rusts. You can also use them over and over again for canning. This is an innovation and an improvement on the simply perfect glass jar that even the grandmothers of the world appreciated!
Three years down the line we have expanded our product line of built-strong jar-ccessories. It gladdens our hearts to see an ever-growing demand from people who love all that a glass jar has to offer. We now carry fermenter kits, stainless steel and glass straws, smoothie shaker balls, and even BPA free stainless steel storage lids. Knowing that our customers purchase our products to simplify their lives, to enrich their health, and to cut down on wasteful consumption makes our work exciting and worthwhile.
We have set a great thing in motion and all seven of us (plus a few additions) are still entirely responsible for sustaining and growing this business. Thanks for your support!