It may seem like costume design and cast iron manufacturing may not have anything in common, but that’s not case with Nest Homeware, a cast iron cookware company.
“I had planned to tailor my studies towards casting, which, at the time, I thought I was going to apply to making props and sets and costumes for movies. I was enamored with stories, special effects and science fiction and fantasy, but a lot of the motivation I had to working with my hands was from my love of character and environment,” said Matt Cavallaro, founder and principal designer at Nest Homeware.
An avid sculptor and sketcher, Cavallaro said things shifted for him while he was taking a studio course on cast iron at Rhode Island School of Design. It was during that class he discovered his passion for the material.
“I immediately fell in love with the material and the process of working with it. It’s a series of mold making and casting and that’s something that I really enjoy. My mind works well in a mold,” he explained.
After he graduated, he continued to work with the material, making objects for himself and others. Three years later, in 2013, he founded Nest Homeware, with the goal of bringing a functional, yet visually different type of cast iron cookware to the market.
“As for why the pans are shaped the way they are, I really like word play,” he said. “At the time that I was designing these, I had started referring to them as stick pans, as a reference to [other cookware]being non-stick. I thought it would be a clever and funny way to talk about how cast iron is the original ‘stick’ pan,” he said.
While the pan’s name didn’t stick with the company, the ode to Cavallaro’s original name did. Nest Homeware’s cast iron collection is, in fact, different from others on the market. Created to look like twigs and branches leading to a “nest,” the cookware is finished with a high-shine, gold hue.
“There is something about having a product that’s a little more connected to nature and something that’s a little more funky and not totally symmetrical that makes these look less like cookware and more like precious objects. But, don’t get me wrong— these pans are workhorses,” he said.
Now, after growing the business for the last six years, Cavallaro is ready to take the next step into retail. While the assortment was available online as well as in a few independent housewares and gift stores, the company is gearing up to penetrate the market even more. The company showcased the line at the GC Vendor Showcase, which took place in January at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, and Cavallaro said that he is looking for retailers to build a partnership with, both in and out of the independent market.
“We are really trying hard to give our brand a more visual presence and really be in more retail locations. But, we are really looking forward to partnering with folks that may really be able to help us on a larger scale as well with distribution, whether that’s a department store or a brand that shares similar aesthetic value,” said Cavallaro.
Additionally, he noted, Nest Homeware offers healthy margins for retailers and is set apart from its competition by its combination of form and function. And now that the business has seen faster growth in the last few years, he is hoping to be a partner for those retailers who decide to put the cookware on their store shelves.
“We are trying to make it an easy decision for folks to say ‘yes’ to us because we are a relatively new company, even though we have been doing this for a few years now,” Cavallaro said.
Cavallaro also said he feels that bridal/new home registry is a key growth point for his company, as the collection echoes the desire for romance from the visual perspective. This, too, could give retailers an edge in an otherwise crowded registry market.
“I designed the original collection with a couple in mind. I felt it was the perfect starter set to make a meal for two people. And now with the 12-inch skillet, I feel confident that people will use it to make meals for their family. With that in mind, I hope the cookware creates that romantic thought. A family sitting around the table or a couple starting out their lives together,” he said.
The company will be showing its cookware line at the 2019 International Home + Housewares Show, set to take place at Chicago’s McCormick place from March 2 to 5. The company will be located at booth S4038.