As the founders of Move Collective LLC, the creators of bobble, passed a field filled with factory waste in 2008, they paused before the staggering scene and despaired at the impact humankind was having on the planet. Could things really be that bad, they thought? Was there anything they could do to reverse this kind of devastation?
Soon the seed of a concept emerged. All it needed to grow into a global eco-movement, as it turned out, was a little water.
“The genesis for bobble came out of that impromptu discussion,” recalled Stephanie Smiedt, a product developer and talented visual artist. She and Richard Smiedt, a successful senior executive of consumer products companies in both Australia and the USA, focused on the billions of single-serve plastic water bottles that are tossed in the trash every year. They remarked how consumers embraced reusable bags instead of throwing away billions of plastic ones.
Then came the big idea: what if people could filter their drinking water on the go? “We knew that many reusable bottles were flooding the market,” said Stephanie. “While all were beneficial, none were really fixing the problem of making tap water taste better.”
They hired internationally-renowned designer Karim Rashid to visualize their evolving concept: a personal water bottle with a built-in, replaceable carbon filter that would produce great-tasting water on a par with the best single-serve brands, at a fraction of the cost both to the consumer and the environment. In keeping with their design ideals, they insisted the product would be as beautiful as it was functional.
The result was bobble.
“As an object, bobble is gorgeous—but it’s much more than that. It’s a functional design statement about the positive effect we all can have on the earth,” states Richard. “We’ve been very careful to develop bobble as a brand—something with a responsible, fun and youthful personality. It’s pretty clear the hard work has paid off.”
bobble was, and still is, a monster challenge, Richard notes. It was a first—a design product, selling at a volume price-point to a mass global audience. Debuting at the 2010 Chicago Housewares Show, bobble’s sensuous shape, vivid colors, disruptive packaging and brilliantly executed point-of-sale produced an immediate hit, with retailers quickly grasping how well the product would translate internationally.
Today, bobble is a featured product in over 35,000 stores around the globe. Close to ten million bobbles have been sold in the product’s first two years. The original 18.5oz./550ml size has spawned line extensions including 13oz./375ml and 34oz./1.0L versions, as well as a beautiful 64oz./2.0L fast filtering serving jug, now being rolled out. The company believes the bobble jug will again change filtration, as it’s the first filter jug that goes from the tap to the table.
“We were and still are a very small startup. We found we had to compete with the biggest multi billion dollar consumer goods companies in the world in the highly competitive filtration category,” says Richard. “Their deep pockets and significant relationships are an everyday challenge, yet one we embrace. We are innovative, fast moving and have a pipeline of wonderful innovation lined up over the next couple of years. Each will be dramatic and category changing. We are truly a consumer brand for the creative class.”
Perhaps what the Move Collective business team appreciates most, however, is the unique connection bobble has made with its users. “It’s one of the most amazing things about bobble—how it’s touched people’s lives. To them the product simply makes sense. They are attached to bobble emotionally,” Stephanie says.
bobbles have been photographed with their proud owners at the Taj Mahal, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and in the hands of an extra-terrestrial in Roswell, New Mexico. People post stories on Facebook about how their bobbles accompany them throughout their day. Impressed by the creativity of the product, bobble has been covered by The Today Show, The New York Times, E! News, Esquire, GQ and thousands of other news outlets.
Every bobble purchase, notes Stephanie, takes at least 300 single-serve plastic water bottles out of landfills. “We’re pleased that the product works on so many levels,” she states. “Our patented filter design not only filters out contaminants, but also produces a cleaner, crisper taste.”
“bobble is sexy, inexpensive, it’s functional, it’s healthy, and it’s for everyone,” proclaims Stephanie. “It’s a great way to make the world just a little better, every time you fill it up.”
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