A few days ago Dan Markovitz, author of A Factory of One, visited Ruffwear to research a new book that he is writing on lean practices based around Outdoor businesses. As Dan posed his questions about the lean approach that Ruffwear takes, we were challenged to put into words something that comes fairly naturally to us. Sort of like explaining to a friend how you might lace up your boots, a process that many of us can do with our eyes closed, but find it somehow difficult to articulate.
After racking our brains to come up with good examples of when we first implemented lean practices to share with Dan, we realized that lean is not some process that we put into place after attending a seminar or reading a few books. Lean is simply in Ruffwear’s DNA, this is who we are and why we exist. A lean approach was in my first backpacking trips, in my teens, where I was introduced to the concept of carry what you need and need what you carry. A few years later, self support, multi-day whitewater kayaking trips further honed my skills in lean practices. I recall one self-support trip where I packed one extra package of ramen and a single tea bag, this was considered excessive at the time but much appreciated when our group of three paddlers on the Sespe river took an extra day paddling to reach the take out.
Ruffwear’s beginnings followed this same philosophy. When challenged with the goal to create a means for Liz’s dog Moki to hydrate while mountain biking in Los Padres National Forest, the approach was naturally a lean solution. Something that could be packed away easily, weighed grams and withstood the test of time, literally in the face of canines. That original collapsible food and water bowl set Ruffwear in motion and created a foundational approach where nothing is superfluous.
As Ruffwear ventured into building more dog-specific products to meet challenging needs, our little company’s intellectual growth came from the opportunity to create gear that excels at doing more with less. Fast forward almost 20 years of Ruffwear’s existence and today’s design challenges address not only how our products will perform in the environment they are created for, but other factors are thrown into the design hopper as well. How can we efficiently get our products into the hands and paws of our human and dog friends while considering our environmental footprint? These design challenges actually enhance our products for their intended use.
Our re-introduced Urban Sprawl™ dog bed is a good example of how less is more. Not only did we create a dual density, high-loft mattress that offers a firm or soft side for a customizable sleeping surface, we designed a mattress that rolls up and fits into a box for shipping. The shipping constraints created the opportunity our design team needed to think differently about how we can improve the whole experience.
Ruffwear’s all-metal Crux Clip™, used on our new Double Track™ Coupler, Ridgeline™ and Quick Draw™ Leashes, uses less material, is lighter, yet creates a stronger connection to our dogs, all while being more ergonomic to use. Our Beacon™ safety light has been further refined this season to allow easier access when changing the batteries, no more tools required.
A product that we are really proud of this season is our Front Range™ Harness. Built on the fit and foundation of our standard setting Web Master™ Harness, the Front Range Harness is a great low-profile, high performing harness that fits well, requires less adjustment and looks great, again, doing more with less.
These are just a few of the examples of Ruffwear’s ‘nothing superfluous’ approach that we have to offer this season. I invite you to investigate the subtle details on each of our products and discover for yourself the thought that goes into doing more with less. As we strive to get closer to nature and do more with less, I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes by one of the most inspirational product designers.
“Human ingenuity may make various inventions, but it will never devise any invention more beautiful, nor more simple, nor more to the purpose than Nature does, because in her inventions nothing is wanting and nothing is superfluous.”
-Leonardo da Vinci
Live it up,
Patrick – Founder and Leader of the Pack at Ruffwear
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