Imagine you have guests staying over. They get into their room, look at your pillow covers, which have racecars printed on them, and ask where you got them. Now imagine if you had a 1980s Bollywood kind of story for this, about a nine-year-old boy who makes them with help from his ailing 60-year-old grandmother.
It’s these kinds of stories, quirky, fun and simply adventurous, which attracts a bunch of people to Kickstarter—not just to look at what’s being developed, but also to shop. Kickstarter is a Brooklyn, New York-based public benefit corporation that helps artists, designers and other creators find resources and support to realise their ideas. According to their website, over 10 million people from every continent have backed a Kickstarter project.
Michael Slack and his grandmother’s project, Goodnight Pillowcases, got 68 backers pledging $1291—their goal was to get $1000—before they ended their fund-raising some years ago. Another project that found over 200 backers putting in more than £13,000 is the Fancy Stamp Ring with interchangeable faces. The silver-brass rings have an interchangeable rubber stamp/wooden insert that allow you to bang on a desk like House of Cards’ former protagonist Francis Underwood and mark your stamp in the process.
The chances of finding eccentric, innovative products at low cost attract buyers to shop from Kickstarter. Unlike other ecommerce sites, like Flipkart or Amazon, which you visit to buy something specific like washing powder or a cell phone, there is an element of surprise with KS.
“It has discovery,” says Paulose Varghese from Kottayam in Kerala over the phone. “On Amazon, for example, you would go to buy dog food or I would know what I want to buy. Here, you go on the site and something interesting pops out.
“They are innovative and well-crafted things. Some of the things are done beautifully because they (the entrepreneurs) know they have to sell the idea (to investors/for pledges).”
Additionally, some customers find a feel-good factor in helping out an entrepreneur with funding and support. “The main advantage is I can help someone launch a product, to fund something good. You also get it at a cheaper price and before it enters the market,” says Harsha Mathew, who works for the Malayalam Manorama media group.
On the flipside, the disadvantage is that many products are for a US-specific market, with large shipping costs or unavailability in India. Sometimes, the company closes down before taking off, leading to a loss of investment. On other occasions, the product may take a year or more to arrive, because of teething troubles.
“Things take time to deliver,” says Mathew. “About 2-3 projects stopped doing any updates. The company just wound up. One order last year, for example, they said they had miscalculated. So they couldn’t deliver unless I gave them more money. Then there was no response.”
“There are good entrepreneurs but there are some people who use it to scam others,” adds Mathew who has bought roughly a dozen products from Kickstarter, but has since quit shopping on it after a few disappointing experiences.
One of the reasons why Mathew and Varghese experimented with shopping on Kickstarter is also because buying off it is like an investment for the future—with the suspense of waiting and anticipation all built in.
Here are some new products and designs that might enrich your home—should you decide to take the risk.
The Green Conspiracy – Grow Food with Confidence
With health and food fads dominating dining room conversations, it would be perhaps a good idea to grow some of your own food. This would require a little bit of space at home, like a balcony, and gives you boasting rights of calling yourself a farmer. Help comes in the form of The Green Conspiracy, a planner for urban gardening needs. It assists set up, keeps track of your produce, and documents the whole process.
Besides helping you cut down stress through the process of tending and nurturing, gardening allows you to grow food you will not get in the market, reconnect with nature and eat organic—a win-win for all.
Costs: £34 (plus £12 shipping)
Delivery time: Up to 10 days
Limbo: The magical top that spins for hours
If you are the kind who likes to look dreamily out of the window or watch paint dry, this is a perfect gift for yourself—and your home. The Limbo also claims to have the Guinness world record for the longest spinning mechanical top—27:09:24 hours. According to the site’s description, it’s a “smart, self-balancing electric gyro, disguised as a beautiful CNC-machined spinning top that spins for hours”.
Besides, it comes in more than half-a-dozen varieties. So the next time, post lunch on a rainy day, you feel like you are in a limbo, just spin and watch a Limbo.
Cost: Starting from $59 ($10 shipping)
Delivery time: Uncertain, with some risks.
Detox Your Place: Room-by-Room Remedies for Nontoxic Living
This book, by the fascinatingly named Meadow Shadowhawk, goes beyond the dust-termites-bugs-and the mud-the-kids-brought-in aspects of cleanliness. This is about wholesome health, exposure of toxins we cannot see and what modern, industrial households have that’s harmful to us. The 128-page tome authored by a veterinary technician provides short and long-term solutions—on paint, furniture, lighting, water filtration, food containers, non-toxic makeup etc.—that will make your home a healthier place to live in. Some of the solutions may not be easily available in India, but that should not be a problem for our well-travelled readers of Beautiful Homes.
Cost: $12.95 (ships everywhere and available as ebook)
Available: From July 14, 2020
Trace Collective: Fashion to Regenerate Our Planet
This is one of those projects that uses all the sustainability ideas we love: 90% less water, 50% less energy used to produce clothes compared to conventional fashion brands. Also includes free repairs, ensures 100% biodegradability and recycled textiles. For example, for a pledge of £55 or more, the donor gets an organic linen T-shirt, one kilo of carbon saved, 235 hours of bulb energy and 229 days of drinking water saved—and a clean conscience.
Cost: £20 and above (ships everywhere)
Available: From March 2020 onwards.