Reflection on Entrepreneurship. Ideas to Reality. The Critical Story Behind Creating Self-Watering Seed-Starters

June 25, 2013 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment

Blog 13_OrtaPic: Anne Fletcher’s Self-Watering Seed-Starter (Orta)

Studying in the States, I’ve been exposed extensively to entrepreneurship. Most of my good friends with good ideas make them work and turn them into reality. The entrepreneur spirit is in all of those who work hard, and believe that they have something to improve others daily living. This is what happened with my friend Anne Fletcher, instructor at the D.School and consultant. After showing off her entrepreneur skills in Chile’s surfing context, she came back to the States, and here, she is doing it once again. Meet her dream of helping others to keep seedlings alive. But is not that easy! There are pitfalls and a-ha moments! It is always good to hear a real story and reflection, overall from someone who is critical and has a vision behind it. Here is what she tells us about her quest:

-. I find hope in planting seeds .-
Terracotta self-watering seed-starters will keep your seedlings alive even if you ignore them a little! Before I started making terracotta seed-starters in my garage, I killed a lot of seedlings.  In the delicate seedling phase, plants need gentle watering every single day, twice a day if it’s hot outside. With long hours and work travel, sometimes it just wasn’t possible for me to keep those baby plants alive. About a year ago I had an idea for a new way to solve this problem.  I invented a terracotta self watering seed-starter with a reservoir for water, and porous walls that keeps seedlings happy for about a week between waterings. After debuting my invention last September, I started selling out all the production runs I could make in my garage.  I found some local artisans here in California to help me meet the growing demand.

Now I’m working on a new, bigger model.  The 12-pack allows you to grow bigger seedlings, and more of them.  Big is great for the plants, but it’s too much for me to handle in the garage.  I’m doing a Kickstarter project to raise the funds to make the 12-pack a reality by paying for professional mold-making, and working with manufacturing partners in California. This project partly comes from a desire to keep my plants alive in a pretty package on the windowsill – there’s no denying that.  But there’s another deeper reason.

As a designer, I struggle all the time with the visions of apocalyptic futures that experts say are coming if we don’t change our consumption habits.  When I ponder the designer’s role in all this (as creator of objects people desire, and sometimes as creators of the desire itself), I feel a mental paralysis.  It’s extremely difficult to balance both being aware of what we humans are doing to ourselves, and yet stay positive enough to have the energy to make positive changes.  In a world sharply divided between doom-and-gloom apocalysm and head-in-the-sand optimism, we designers need a new way forward.  I can’t ignore the reality of our current situation, yet I also can’t create positive change from a place of fear and pessimism. -. I find hope in planting seeds .-

Blog 13_Orta2
Pic: Anne Fletcher’s Self-Watering Seed-Starter (Orta)

Nurturing new life is such a powerful positive connection to our relationship with (and responsibility towards) other living things.  My mission with Orta and the seed-starters is to bring some of that feeling of connectedness and hope for new life to a broader audience.  By building on some of our core design competencies, creating things that are “cute” and “convenient,” I’m hoping to be a trojan horse of belief in positive change.  Lofty, yes.  Unrealistic, maybe.  But it’s what keeps me going.  I’m going to be at the Dwell on Design show next weekend, and will be giving away a postcard that has a cheesy, but I think appropriate, quote:  “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” by Audrey Hepburn.  You may have seen it before.  I hadn’t, and when I came across it a few weeks ago, I realized it was exactly the connection I’m trying to make:  that a garden can be a bridge between doom-and-gloom reality and hope and positive change
<HERE> Anne Fletcher’s Project on Facebook <HERE> Anne Fletcher’s project on Kickstarter

Entry filed under: Diseño Productos/Product Design, Entrepreneurship, Environmental or Green, Ethics, Social Design. Tags: .

Good Tools: Mendeley An Open Source/ Social Media Reference Manager CoAT Program: Training graduate students to become better educators

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


contact + citing (CC license)

Constanza Miranda PhD(c) design.anthro
* Currently @ DILAB
*
NCSU
* Ex.VR @ Stanford's Center for Design Research [DesignXLab]
* Ex.Instructor @ PUC Chile [Design+Engineering]
Use citations ¡Citar es ético!
Creative Commons License
Design for Social Innovation initiative by Constanza Miranda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.innovacionsocial.cl.

Like us on Facebook