BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – We’re all stuck inside, but Rachel Steffensmeier of Fort Madison made the most of her time wandering around at home during this throttle back of socialization.
And if she has her way you’ll be doing curls while your chicken risotto is simmering, or your whites are tumbling.
With the help of her mom Jenny, the two have launched a new product of home decor weights called Subtle Impacts.
These are incognito work out tools that double as art-deco placed around your home.
“Weights look kinda dumb laying around on the floor,” said Rachel with a laugh. “And I’ve seen other people use different things for weights like milk jugs or other knick knacks, so we’ve designed something that fits that, but also works in any room.”
Rachel said she was nervous about presenting the idea to her mother, but said Jenny jumped right on board.
“It’s her idea,” Jenny said.
Jenny Steffensmeier is the owner of Steffensmeier Welding & Manufacturing in Pilot Grove, and said the two tinkered around with the ideas at the shop, but ultimately ended up working with a foundry out of Webster City, Iowa.
The two have just launched the product line and are starting with just the Impact line to judge reaction to the products.
“It’s gonna be fun along the way when we see the questions and suggestions people come up with. That will definitely be part of the design concepts down the line.”
Rachel said originally she was just trying to come up with something to make at Steffensmeier Welding that was outside the company’s traditional welding and manufacturing services.
“I had all these ideas running around in my head and once I talked with mom, she gave me the confidence to move ahead with it,” she said.
The weights are certainly atypical and look like art on the floor, or a countertop, or book shelf, but Steffensmeier said they are balanced and somewhat symmetrical and can just be set back down after a quick workout.
“I know I don’t like to put my dumb bells away after a work out, but they look ugly on the floor, so I just thought this was a neat idea, she said.
“You also have to think about balance. We didn’t want one side of the weight to be heavier than the other and came up with this idea.”
The new line is being promoted through marketing campaigns on their website, social media, and Pinterest and there is a presale underway with discounts on selected items.
“Really right now we’re just trying to get exposure vs. sales. We’re trying to reach out everywhere,” Rachel said.
The tooling is still being set up at the foundry and Jenny said she wished they would have moved on the line months ago.
“If we had been just two months earlier in finding the foundry, we’d be ahead of the holidays. We fumbled around here a little,” Jenny said.
Rachel said she does have more designs in the works, but said they’re just starting with the white Impact line to gauge interest.
“The tooling is pretty expensive so we’re not going to launch all the designs just yet. We’ll do collections at some point, if this takes off.”
A focus group was assembled over social media to garner ideas and perceptions of the new product.
“That group gave us some much feedback on technical issues and that was so helpful in setting up the FAQs on the website,” Jenny said.
Prices on the Impact design range from around $40 to $200 in the pre-sale model. Those orders are being accepted through Dec. 4. Orders now will come in just after Christmas or at the beginning of the year.
Rachel said at first look the prices may seem high with the average price for regular dumb bells at about $1.50 per pound, but the Subtle Impact pieces are around $5 per pound.
“This is a dual purpose and if you look at other prices for decor on other sites, I think you’ll find our prices comparable.”