Episode 18: Tea Sticklers and Coffee Impressionists

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Aly and Beth Khalifa have decades of experience in product design, both as consultants for clients and in making their own stuff. The Teastick was the first product they made and sold themselves; the Impress coffee filter is the latest. The North Carolina designers are bursting with ideas and work actively to promote collaboration, including in their own shared work space. (@GamilDesign on Twitter.)

Aly and Beth's Teastick, introduced in 2005, was a clever idea. The one I bought back then still works fabulously after hundreds or thousands of dunkings. I.D. Magazine had an international reputation. Its identity was bought when it shut down, but its archives are unavailable; you can see a small image of what the article about Teastick looked like on the Gamila site, however.

The Third Place Coffee House opened downstairs from the Khalifas' offices at the time. The shop was inspired by The Great Good Place, a book about how retail stores where people hang out form the heart of communities. Aly likes oolong tea.

Gamil Design used Kickstarter to raise funds and learn about the process of raising funds for its Impress Coffee Filter, now shipping to backers. It's also available for pre-order. Kickstarter did an analysis of how Double Fine backers later contributed to other projects to explain that new backers didn't come for just one project and disappear. The AeroPress is a wonder of engineering, but kind of a pain to clean.

Designbox is the collaborative working space that the Khalifas helped to create with other companies. I talked in Episode #11 with the folks at Lumi about The Brewery, a wonderful set of artist lofts and studios in Los Angeles. Seattle's SURF Incubator brings together entrepreneurs to build businesses in a collaborative environment. SURF takes no equity, just rent, and it's more like graduate school than office space.

The Khalifas Lyf Shoes (pronounced "life") shoe project is well underway, and I'll check in with them when it's closer to fruition. (You know, it just occurred to me writing these notes — Khalifa, Lyf. Huh.)

Finally, I hope Gamil Design will take up my challenge to create tools to better clean the Dr. Brown's baby bottles that prevent infants from taking in too much air while sucking away.