A new product for loose-leaf tea drinkers created by a few Western Washington University students is getting a big thumbs up — to the tune of more than $300,000.
Western’s student chapter of the Industrial Designers Society of America recently created Imbue, a tea-brewing vessel that uses magnets to make it both a tea steeper and a drinking mug. In May they started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to make more of the product, with the proceeds going toward the student chapter for future projects and to help support the school’s industrial design program. For a pledge of $29, supporters would get one tea vessel.
They started with a modest goal of $20,000 to fund the project. As of Monday afternoon, June 1, the campaign had more than 5,200 pledges totaling more than $304,000. The Kickstarter campaign is scheduled to end on Wednesday, June 3.
The students have spent the past month fielding questions from customers, distributors and manufacturers interested in the product — all while getting ready for finals week on campus.
“We were fairly confident that it would get funded (at $20,000),” said Ashkon Nima, a junior in Western’s Industrial Design Program. “We learned that we have quite a following, and we’re thankful for the support.”
Nima said a Bellingham company, Linquisitive, is handling the organizing, manufacturing and shipping of the product. While the number of vessels ordered is higher than they expected, it can be done. The product is expected to be shipped to supporters in October.
The students plan to continue selling the vessel after the Kickstarter campaign, with plans to go into local businesses and online sites like Amazon, Nima said.
With work still to be done making and shipping Imbue, Nima said they are not yet sure what percentage of those pledges will go to the program after expenses are paid. The money will go toward new equipment and field trips, he said.
The students figured they were onto something when they presented the product at an event at Bellingham’s Mindport in December. Nearly all 150 units were sold that evening.
Customers put the loose-leaf tea in a steeper, then put it in the water-filled vessel and flip it over. When the tea is done brewing, the vessel is flipped again. The magnets keep the tea steeper in place and prevent the tea leaves from escaping into the tea, so it’s easy to remove the leaves and drink the tea.
For details about the product, visit imbuetea.com.