DIP 016: Equal parts product, service, and community

PLUS: Fancy jigsaw puzzles, OV x Rapha, and PopSocket koozies

👋 Hi. House Beautiful (of all publications) has a trend piece about “grandmillennial” design and I really love it. Think needlepoint, wicker and rattan furniture, lace accents, and chintz upholstery. The Inside launched a small collection of chintz furniture a few months back, too. Everything old is new (and irony-tinged) again. As always, reply with questions, comments, or thoughts about anything you read here.

The Chips 🍝

The Dip 🍳

Equal Parts, the first label from Pattern Brands, fka Gin Lane, launched today. (For background, skim DIP 008 and DIP 013.) We knew that it would be a cookware label, we knew from Instagram teasers that the products would be matte black, and we knew that there would be some sort of tech or service component to it. Now that it’s live, of course, we know a lot more.

One Part Product

Equal Parts’ products are sold exclusively in sets. “Your Complete Kitchen” is the most comprehensive option, with two pots, two pans, cooking utensils, a knife, mixing bowls, a colander, measuring cups, a cutting board, and a baking sheet for $575. There’s also a pared-down, storage-friendly kit for $325. You can buy a set that has all of the cookware, a set that has everything but the cookware, or simply buy the Equal Parts chef’s knife.

In offering sets, Equal Parts is targeting people who are either building a kitchen from scratch or looking to overhaul their existing gear en masse. The cookware is stackable (read: apartment-friendly) and simple in appearance. It’s matte black and bereft of ornamentation — visually appealing largely because of what it lacks, rather than what it has.

In its product descriptions, Equal Parts is more focused on ease of use than performance, where terms like “5-ply” and “premium” are industry standards. Equal Parts is dishwasher safe and made with recyclable materials; it’s PTFE- and PTOA-free, with non-toxic, non-stick ceramic coatings; it’s all made from lightweight aluminum. You could argue that the choice of material alone positions Equal Parts as a no-fuss, starter brand.

Aluminum cookware is typically more affordable than stainless steel. It’s lighter in weight and heats up faster, but also doesn’t retain heat as well and can be prone to warping. Alternative materials like stainless steel, cast iron, and carbon steel may be heavier and more costly, but they’re often more durable.

This isn’t to say that Equal Parts made a mistake in producing aluminum cookware. Rather, for the customer it seems to be targeting, it seems to be the right choice. As the brand grows and as its consumer gains confidence in the kitchen, the brand will likely introduce new, more advanced products to complement the aluminum cookware. A rep from Equal Parts explained that the company’s “direct with consumer” model allows the brand to evaluate what its community wants and develop products accordingly.

One Part Service

Each Equal Parts purchase comes with eight weeks of access to a free, SMS-based cooking coach. Equal Parts describes the coaches as “real experts who can provide tips, techniques, and inspiration for all levels.”

Through beta testing with consumers across the US, the Equal Parts team learned than more than 70% of engagement fell between 6–8pm in each time zone, and that people also interacted with their coach earlier in the day as they began to think about what to make for dinner. Based on these learnings, Equal Parts is making coaches available from 4pm–midnight ET (1–9pm PT) on weekdays and from noon–midnight ET (9am–9pm PT) on weekends.

Concerning the eight-week window, a rep explained that customer beta testing showed that eight weeks “was the right starting place to help build intuition in the kitchen.” The brand doesn’t currently have plans to expand the service beyond that period but says that customer feedback will be used to determine if ongoing coaching can add value: “We will constantly assess demand to expand the service and build on our brand mission of delivering guidance. We want to form a personalized relationship that motivates you to get started and stay in the rhythm in the kitchen, so we’re committed to making that a reality for our consumers. We want to listen to you, learn from you, and adapt based on what’s most helpful and enjoyable.”

One Part Community

As both a complement and amplifier to its cooking coach, Equal Parts plans to host a series of in-person events. The focus will be on basic skills and facilitating hands-on cooking experiences.

In thinking more about how Equal Parts, and Pattern as a whole, can foster community, I find myself hitting a wall when it comes to social media. Pattern is intentionally working to minimize its social media presence, yet so much of what gets people cooking in the first place unfolds on Instagram.

It’s about discovery.

It’s why Alison Roman is the Millennial kitchen whisperer and why Bon Appétit has a cult following. People see a recipe, they go offline and make it, they share their version of it, the recipe’s creator shares the user-generated picture, and the flywheel kicks into action.

A lot of Equal Parts’ messaging speaks to building “intuition” in the kitchen. A cooking coach may share recipes or provide recommendations, but the main focus is on developing skills. I’ll be curious to see how, if at all, Equal Parts speaks to and engages people who are already comfortable with cooking, or who may be interested in the brand’s ethos but don’t have a need for its product.

On a related note, if Equal Parts is aiming to facilitate habituation and intuition among beginner cooks, cookware usually isn’t the biggest hurdle — it’s knowing what ingredients to start with and what to do with them. That, in theory, is where the cooking coach can add the most value. But to be truly valuable, it should go beyond recommending recipes. It should generate grocery lists, and maybe even pre-populate Instacart orders.

The coaching service isn’t dissimilar to what Great Jones is doing with Potline, which recently adjusted its hours to be available five days a week and which has a lower barrier to entry than the Equal Parts guide (in that access to the service is not contingent upon a purchase).

I’m excited to see Equal Parts put Pattern’s life-lived-more-fully ethos into practice. And I hope that it finds ways for people who are not customers to engage with the brand. Its message is meaningful and universally applicable. It would be a shame if the only way to access it was through a transaction.

Still Hungry?

Real Dip 🍿

Lazy tomato sauce.

Heat a big glug of olive oil in a pan. Add thinly sliced garlic and let it cook for about 30 seconds. Add a pint or so of cherry tomatoes and two big pinches of salt. Stir occasionally, until the tomatoes start to shrivel and the whole thing is simmering and juicy. Splash in some high-quality red wine vinegar. Stir and let it meld for another couple of minutes.

Try it with grilled white fish, smeared on good toast, or paired with fried eggs.

Thanks for snacking,

— Emily 🍪