Cooking up something special
What does a foodie do when they have gourmet kitchen needs and minimal kitchen space? While an impossibly tiny kitchen is a fact of life for most New Yorkers, Julie Fuhrmann wasn’t going to let her cooking space’s miniscule footprint prevent her from her passion: creating mouth-watering, home-cooked meals to put on her family's table. Instead, she decided to start looking for ways to make the limited space she had available more practical, functional, and, dare we say it? Fun.
Unfortunately, she was frequently disappointed by the drab or even uncomfortable space-saving products that were readily available. Together, Julie and her husband Brandon decided to take matters in their own hands and set out on a mission to address this marketplace gap.
Just like that, Cooler Kitchen was born.
"We created our brand specifically around the idea of creating products that are space-saving and ergonomic," says Brandon, who is now Cooler Kitchen's chief executive officer.
"The first products we designed were items that spoke to our aesthetic and which we desperately needed ourselves. Products that look great out on display and can save you an entire drawer's worth of space."
As more and more people expressed enthusiasm for their products, Brandon and Julie realised they were onto a winning idea. They decided to go all in and create a complete line of space-saving, ergonomic, and stylish kitchen products and quickly became must-have items for others who were dealing with the same issues.
Unfortunately, the qualities that made Cooler Kitchen's products so appealing to their customer-base – unique style and flair, and user-friendly design – also caught bad actors' attention.
"I would often check my phone to find out someone new was trying to pass off our products as theirs," he says. "I was constantly reporting fake listings, writing complaints, and putting together legal challenges. It took up huge amounts of time and cost us a ton of money."
Cooler Kitchen's reputation as a brand also started taking a hit. "People would write to us or post bad reviews saying that our products are terrible," continues Brandon. "These were definitely not our products, but explaining this to angry customers is extremely challenging."
Fighting off counterfeiters became a full-time job. Brandon remembers it as an incredibly challenging, disheartening time. Clearly, something had to be done right away.
Bringing Transparency into the mix
Around this time Amazon had just launched Transparency, a service that gives brands and customers extra protection in the fight against counterfeits.
It is simple, yet effective: brands enrol the products they want into Transparency. For each of their enroled products, they need to add a unique code to the packaging of every single unit they make. If it is in Transparency and being sold on Amazon, it will not get sold or shipped if it does not have the right Transparency code on the right product. Once a customer receives the item, they can scan the Transparency code with the Amazon Shopping app or Transparency app to verify that it is authentic.
Brandon immediately realised Transparency could solve Cooler Kitchen's issues with counterfeiting, so he was eager to sign on and gain some peace of mind. "We were one of the first brands to jump on," he says. "I replied as soon as I saw the email and booked a call for the very next day."
His instincts were dead on.