CARAWAY’S COMBINATION OF UNIQUE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINABLE GROWTH MARKETING EXPOSES CUSTOMERS TO NEW WAYS OF CLEAN AND COLORFUL COOKING
The bright green pots, mustard yellow tea kettles, and cheerful blue muffin pans from Caraway have invaded the homes of influencers, celebrities, and millennials across the globe. Caraway is a wellspring of high-quality ceramic-coated aluminum cookware sourced from eco-friendly, non-toxic materials and produced in ethical factories. Since the brand’s conception in 2019, it has generated millions in funding.
Caraway’s “Good looking, clean cooking” tagline communicates its mission to inspire people to be aware of the harmful chemicals in traditional cookware — spicing up kitchens with color is lagniappe.
Founding Caraway to Deliver Safety with Style in the Kitchen
Caraway was born out of a jarring situation but developed into something much more colorful and delightful than the founder and CEO, Jordan Nathan, imagined. While working as a brand manager for another kitchenware company, Nathan tested a sample of the company’s new pan at home.
“I accidentally left the Teflon-coated pan on my burner for close to 45 minutes when I received a call that distracted me from cooking,” he said. “Within that time, my apartment was filled with fumes, and I felt lightheaded and nauseous. To be safe, I called the poison control hotline, where I was informed I was likely exposed to Teflon poisoning. It was shocking to discover items I used every night and touched my food were potentially dangerous and toxic.”
Nathan’s experience kickstarted his search for safer kitchenware. His findings revealed that 80 percent of kitchenware makers in the market use PolyTetraFluoroEthylene (PTFE), such as Teflon, lead, cadmium, and other toxic materials.
“Even from the few ceramic options I could find, everything was low quality, and nothing was aesthetically something I would want to purchase,” he said.
Going through the process of manufacturing non-toxic pots and pans is already a big feat. Nathan decided he might as well create something beautiful for a countertop, too. Nathan’s experience and research prompted him to formulate his own safe, easy-to-use, and well-designed kitchenware — enter Caraway.
In 2019, just a few months before the pandemic, Nathan launched Caraway. At first glance, these circumstances seem terminal. However, the odds couldn’t have been better for a direct-to-consumer (DTC) kitchenware company.
“People were investing in their homes more than ever before, and at Caraway, we have been able to adapt and help consumers at a time where they needed us most,” he said.
While the whole world was quarantined indoors for safety, cooking and baking became an outlet for creativity and entertainment. At its launch, the state of the world certainly helped, but Caraway’s take on product development and marketing kept the momentum going.
Caraway’s Recipe for Sustainable Growth
The brand’s focus on design, safety, and ease of use sets it apart from all others in the kitchenware category. Since launching in 2019, Forbes, Gear Patrol, Vogue, and Food and Wine have featured Caraway as a brand to watch. Caraway’s combined focus on creating high-quality products and utilizing methodical influencer marketing stirs the pot in the DTC world.
“The approach we took is a bit different than a lot of DTC brands in general,” he said. “Since day one, we have built our company culture and structure around sustainable growth.”
Caraway builds long-lasting products that cling to consumers’ and influencers’ wishlists longer than trendy products in the same category.
“We definitely take more of a design angle than our competition and really are trying to root ourselves in the middle of wellness and design and obviously cooking, as well,” he said.
Caraway’s products mirror its primary goal of growing sustainably. Building a base of influencers to grow with helps to enforce this mission. To expose its products to cooking communities and its target audience of recent college grads and millennials, Caraway leaped into the world of influencer marketing.
Caraway’s brightly colored and design-savvy pots and pans look great in the kitchen but also make great subjects for creating content. The associate director of partnerships at Caraway, Bren Daniel, saw this as an opportunity to develop an ambassador and affiliate program to boost revenue and build long-lasting partnerships with creators.
Caraway started working with about 35 brand ambassadors, which created the brand’s legendary influencer marketing strategy.
“We offered them a promo link with a discount for them to do their first posting,” Daniel said. “And then, once they were done with their first posting, they were in the bag for reactivations over and over. This is something we continue to do.”
In addition to exponentially speedy growth, the ambassador program drives 13 percent of Caraway’s revenue. This ratio is impressive, with only 20 percent of the company’s revenue coming from paid media.
“We have grown, side by side, with many of these influencers,” he said. “I have people that we invested in when they had five thousand followers, and now they have 150 thousand and really exploded. Those people remember that you bet on them and invested in them when they were smaller.”
The relationship Caraway builds with each influencer creates lasting partnerships versus short-term gain. In 2022 alone, Caraway paid $350,000 to its affiliates, and the influencer program shows no signs of stopping or slowing down.
Caraway: A Brand with Good Taste
The pretty colored pots and pans can easily influence anyone, but Caraway’s dedication to safety and sustainability induces longtime loyalty among its partners and customers. With versatility unlike no other kitchenware brand, kitchen connoisseurs and novices can find value in Caraway’s products.
“Success for Caraway is getting non-toxic kitchenware and home goods into as many homes as possible,” Nathan said. “We hope we inspire consumers to want to live a healthier lifestyle and focus more of their attention on what they are cooking with.”
Caraway continues to cook up new kitchenware products and aims to launch a houseware line in the next few years. With all the hype around the current offerings, it’s hard not to be curious about what will come next for Caraway.