HOW DID WE BECOME SPOTLESS?
THE SPOTLESS IDEA
One morning I was sitting and having breakfast tea with my friend Pentti Järvelä. As usual we chatted and shared ideas of my other on-going inventions, when suddenly Pentti interrupted- “I have always found that irritating”. He was pointing at my tea bag, but I still didn’t get what he was saying. “Pentti, what are you trying to say?” I asked and he started sketching. “The wet tea bag, it makes stains everywhere” –Pentti glanced at my tea bag. “Here’s how it could be solved” – and pointed out the sketch he had made. After brainstorming, we came to an agreement that I would try to devise the idea further and ended up building several prototypes for a week, until I came to the conclusion that the problem could not be solved in the way Pentti had suggested.
FROM ONE PROTOTYPE TO ANOTHER
I was still daunted by the tea bag mystery and spent hours at my kitchen table being busy cutting, gluing, folding, burning and taping new packages. Later on, I discovered that most of my new packages had already been invented and patented by someone else. Finally, I qualified one of my spotless packages and brought it in front of an audience for the first time to be valued. On public opinion the package didn’t have enough commercial potential and being as sick as a parrot, I gave up on the idea.
Until on Valentine’s Day 2009 the idea hit me and I started again to create a prototype. I folded a rectangular pouch, opening from the wider side creating more space for a puffy tea bag and added a base so the bag would stand up. I laughed out loud and only wondered why I hadn’t figured it out earlier. My friend Reija Haapaniemi came up with the name Steabag®, S standing for Spotless. Then Timo Kivi-Koskinen advised me to establish a business and so the story of Spotless Tea Bag Ltd started.
The idea for Steabag® was brilliant, but needed something more. In order to be a perfect “container”, the pouch needed to be self-standing and keep all the liquid inside. My prototype had the idea, but how could it be processed in to a product? The used material needed to be waterproof, bio-degradable and something that would keep the tea fresh.
The present Steabag® is based on the Doypack -packaging method, which had a patent from 1962 until 1982. It is also known as the Stand-Up Pouch. My first ideas were -“Of course, someone has already invented this”, but no-one had ever thought of a possibility to place the used tea bag back inside its pouch. I had figured out a new way to use this old invention in a way that it could be patented. Steabag® is not only to be used to cover an individually packed tea bag or as a promotional package, it’s purpose is to place the used tea bag in a waterproof stand up –pouch, keeping the cup’s surroundings spotless.
The material and production appeared to be more challenging than we had first expected, especially making it bio-degradable. I and the whole team behind Steabag® were determined to not give up. After a time consuming process of product development, material-guru Peter Löfvenholm from BioBag Ltd was able to create a new type of compostable foil, helping the tea leaves to stay fresh up to 24 months.
I have been really fortunate to have mad keen professionals in the Spotless team, making our company complete. Together we are making the Spotless tea time come true.