In spring of 2014, The Educational Partnerships division, together with Designmatters, held a three-day, heavily facilitated design workshop at Art Center College of Design dedicated to our partners, Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE), and to the question: ”What is the potential for alternative product development that is in line with the SHE brand story and leverages its existing capabilities, expertise and patent-pending technology using banana fiber?”
The status quo is not good enough – we need to challenge it
– Sherry Hoffman, Faculty, Art Center College of Design
The SHE DesignStorm addressed the following three objectives:
Through its long-standing relationship with SHE, Designmatters invited SHE Founder and Chief Instigating Officer, Elizabeth Scharpf, to speak at the LEAP Symposium, to provide a visual testimonial and case study of their first initiative in Rwanda, SHE28. Elizabeth’s presentation was a true inspiration to all.
Now, SHE is looking to scale up its current operations and to replicate its model in other countries. In order to do that, SHE needs to look to diverse sources of capital (outside of philanthropic) and leverage its assets, namely expertise, an authentic brand story, and agro-waste availability and technical processing (patent pending) to produce new U.S. consumer products.
I really like how your decision-making and final products took into account that SHE constantly strives to provide an opportunity to make small changes and add dignity to everyday life.
– Elizabeth Scharpf, Founder, Chief Instigating Officer, SHE Enterprises
Prior to the kick-off of the DesignStorm, Art Center’s design team received resource materials comprised of a SHE Brand Equity Pyramid that identified a range of SHE constituents, the go! Brand Equity Pyramid that identifies the target user constituencies, an identity campaign study and graphic guidelines for their current product, go! Pads, and a recent case study performed by Columbia Business School to identify potential new products.
The faculty and students met to review the materials together, and then to divide into 5 teams to begin to develop product and consumer scenarios based on the initial information. Their task was to do field research to identify potential new products for the SHE brand, comparable brands (with a mission of giving back and doing good), consumer and user scenarios, and potential uses for the banana fibers as well as other sustainable raw materials. Each team would need to be prepared to present their initial findings on Day 1, and conclude Day 3 with a presentation visually communicating their insights, product concepts and the value created through user scenarios.
Welcome, Introductions and Client Presentations
Following general introductions, a presentation was made by Connie Lewin outlined the current work being done by SHE in Rwanda and the organization’s plan to expand their work to produce and distribute the go! pads to other developing countries. Elizabeth Scharpf joined the group from Ho Chi Minh City and discussed how SHE was formed to not just increase health education and productivity in the lives of women and girls, but most importantly, provide dignity to each and every one of them. Elizabeth shared that “dignity is what it comes down to at the end of the day.”
Connie then discussed the potential to expand. In order to scale their operations, SHE wants to launch a relevant and compelling U.S. consumer product in line with the Vision and Mission of SHE Global, to further their outreach internationally. She emphasized that they wanted to make use of their patent pending technology in whatever products are designed. In order to expand, it will require alternate sources of capital and they are currently embarking on a capital campaign for that purpose.
Student Team Introductions and Presentations
The five student design teams then introduced themselves, and shared insights about the design brief, that were supported by the teams’ 6-minute presentations. They shared their initial research on both consumer personas (“conscious consumers” ranging from teenagers to young professionals to new mothers) and possible products/product lines. Possible products included durable clothing, bike bags and backpacks, water filters, textiles and stuffing materials for home furnishings, personal care products, and baby accessories. The teams were then led through a series of “what if” questions to reexamine the brief and brand to assess the potential for alternative product development.
The groups came together after lunch to generate and capture blue-sky ideas and concepts and to develop a mindmap based on all of the observations and insights gained. The individual teams then spent the remainder of the session to begin creating themes that could be transformed into relevant and compelling stores for further product development.
On Day One, the teams framed the project, identified the consumer along with their wants, needs, brand priorities and attributes. During Day Two, the teams identified the best products that leverage the brand story of SHE and meet specific consumer needs. Teams were asked to take into account not just the brand but also the business perspective, and determine which audience will produce the greatest gains. Teams were encouraged to consider that products only have a life cycle of approximately 3-5 years in the marketplace. Systems let you introduce new products, so it is essential that there be a product category, not just an individual product, for example, a toothbrush now, and a personal care line in development.
Throughout the day, the teams work with faculty/client review and input as they worked to generate 2-4 product ideas that fit the targeted consumers they had identified. The concepts were developed using 2D sketching and mock-ups to test feasibility.
Day Three focused on producing prototypes of the products and preparing the final presentations. Teams were encouraged to show what makes the SHE brand special and to use it in the design – to make the final product ‘MORE SHE’ – using the keywords from the mindmapping session: tenacious, savvy, passionate, audacious, provocative.
Faculty continued individual reviews with the teams as they worked on their final prototypes and presentation plans and visuals.
The most surprising and awesome thing I have come away with is the interpretation of the SHE brand and how you elevated/expanded it more than ever through points of universality I’ve never see before – from the urban go-getter to the pet owner. I am excited to see how the story narrative can be expanded in so many different ways. It has been great to witness the inner process you followed, the need to be decisive in such a short period of time. The faculty members were amazing and awesome.
– Connie Lewin, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Marketing, Global, SHE Enterprises
Team Hi-5: SHE-shirt
SHE-shirt provides an interactive opportunity for a diverse community to engage with the SHE brand and simultaneously develop and expand the meaning of SHE in an organic and authentic way, ultimately promoting the SHE brand and message while creating revenue to support future ventures.
A SHE-shirt lets you say what SHE means to you, or say it in your own words. It gives the customer a voice and a platform to tell the world what SHE means to them, creating an opportunity to inform and influence a brand and a mission they believe in. With a multitude of color variables, even he can say what SHE means to him.
Team Coconuts: boomerang
‘boomerang’ is about both the baby AND the mother, and serves more than one function. It is a bag made from the banana fiber that not only provides compartments for the various baby items, but functions as a fashionable, handbag for the new mom.
boomerang was developed to balance the dual needs of the new mother – a stylish bag for baby supplies that also acts as her “purse” for her own personal items. It is easy to carry, comfortable to use and provides needed functionality while demonstrating a strong sense of style for the new mother. It is designed for the woman on the go. The banana shaped logo was developed to reinforce the material that was being used and the connection with the SHE brand.
Team Awesome Sauce: SHE Home and SHE Hug
SHE Home and SHE Hug focus on creating textile products that capitalize on SHE’s innovative technology. The idea was to produce a SHE brand of home textiles and stuffing materials that use both the SHE banana fluff and banana fiber. These textiles would be used to create two product lines:
I really liked the message behind the SHE on the go products of “giving meaning to the little things and the overlooked moments.” We need to do this more often.
– Elizabeth Scharpf, SHE Enterprises
Team Nomad: SHE on the go
SHE on the go focuses on dignifying the little moments of an urban commuter’s daily journey by making this conscious choice accessible and affordable, giving meaning to the little things and the overlooked moments. Using the banana fiber, they created two bags (The Urban Oasis & The Double Dip) for individuals to do more than have a “grab and go” meal.
Team Be-Real: SHE is Real and SHE Tech Band
SHE Is Real and SHE Tech Band are for young women at an age when they are exploring who they are and establishing themselves as consumers. The products are interactive, playful and sassy. By providing wearable technology that connects women in a physical and emotional way, SHE communicates its brand message of strength and support while educating and promoting an authentic social interaction.