Since we started our Shop, we’ve learned a lot of unexpected things about what people like to buy. For instance: dryer balls. Back in the old days, people doing their laundry would throw a clean tennis ball into the dryer along with their clothes. As it bounced around the warm, spinning machine, the ball would keep clothes from clumping and wrinkling. Just as a whisk aerates cream, a ball aerates clothing, keeping it nice and fluffy.
Fast forward to today, and the smart, aesthetically-minded people of the world have created a new kind of dryer ball—one that’s made of felted wool and comes in pleasing shades of blue, brown and grey. People love our dryer balls so much, we regularly rack up waiting lists 300-strong, and each batch sells out as soon as we release them.
You know what else people like? Kitchen mats!
When we first started carrying kitchen mats, we thought they’d be a solid seller. But no: they instantly skyrocketed into the stratosphere of top sellers, and have stayed on our top 10 bestselling products list ever since.
There’s a reason for this: People need kitchen mats, but most of them are unattractive at best. We launched ones that brought to mind Mediterranean kitchen tiles—they had charm, and were plenty sturdy too.
Demand was so great, says Jojo Feld, our Director of Buying and Product Development, that last year, when we had new patterns to release, we decided to launch them as a sneak peek on Instagram, hoping to pique people’s interest. But, says Jojo, “We couldn’t go forward with the regular launch because they sold out during the Insta sneak peak.”
Yes, kitchen mats are universally practical. They protect your floors from spills, cushion your feet while you do dishes, and give you a chance to add some pattern to your kitchen. “We also liked how in apartment-world, they help cover up ugly kitchen floors,” says Jojo. “If you’re a renter, it’s a nice, easy fix to turn your kitchen floor into something stimulating and beautiful.”
Naturally, a kitchen mat was at the top of our list for own line. Since you love kitchen mats so much, we figured we could design our dream one together.
For inspiration, we went to Paris. Well, not really—we’re not that highfalutin. Jojo and Kristina Wasserman, our Buyer and Merchandising Manager, were there for a housewares show last year. Everywhere they went, it seemed, they spotted some variation on the classic Parisian limestone and black check floor. (If you'd like a deep-dive on the history of checkerboard tile floors, we found this great post.)
They saw it in the lobby of their Airbnb building in the Marais. They saw it at the Ritz. And when they saw it again, wandering around the magnificent Picasso Museum, the deal was sealed: A Paris-inspired floor mat would be the next product in our line.
But even a classic French design has variations: the scale of the pattern, the emphasis of the color, border or no border, etc. We want your input on which design you’d like, as well as which dimensions are most useful to you. Traditionally, floor mats come in a small size for in front of your sink, say, and a long, narrow runner for either a galley kitchen or a hallway. Which do you prefer? We'd love to know your take.
Please weigh in here by 5pm EDT on Wednesday, May 30. Keep an eye on our Instagram stories, and follow along with #f52byyou. We'll be sending finished mats to 3 people who take our quiz. Looking forward to your thoughts, and we'll share the results in the coming weeks!
Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs, Co-founders