Like any good invention, it started with seeking out a solution to a problem. In this case, a common one on Vancouver Island: damp wood.
“I was on a camping trip on the Juan de Fuca trail,” John Shukin told Victoria Buzz..
“We had a night and that was very rainy, and we really struggled to start a fire. We’re not the first ones that have had this problem, and there’s got to be a better way.”
The better way is the Firetent, a fire-starting aid created by Shukin and his business partner, Jordan Campbell.
Consisting of a small, 11-piece laser-cut plywood design that assembles into a 4.25-inch structure, a couple of cotton balls and some paper packaging, the Firetent promises to be an easy method for getting a comfy blaze going.
It’s the latest idea from Shukin and Campbell, who previously dipped into the world of inventing with the “COVID key,” a device for keeping hands sanitary while manipulating door handles and other touch-points.
The partners are co-founders of Shape Design, a furniture and design company that they operate together in Victoria.
They currently provide branding and graphic design services to other businesses and individuals but are hoping to dip back into the world of innovation with the Firetent.
“About a year ago we launched the COVID key,” said Shukin.
“The idea there was to raise awareness and money for local businesses, but it was a similar sort of invention. That was pretty successful, so we decided to try and make this a part of who we are, to continue making physical products.”
Shape Design now has a Kickstarter running to try to raise money to launch the Firetent.
The company was able to build and test a prototype in-house using equipment Shukin and Campbell had from their days designing furniture, but they need funding to begin production.
“We’re seeking some capital to get going and we’re hoping that the interest is enough that people would want to see this as a product long term,” said Campbell.
He also says that local distribution could be a possibility once production gets going, and Shape Design has already been meeting with potential retailers.
“We’ve been in talks with Robinson’s Outdoor Store, Canadian Tire and various other stores. There’s definitely some interest from those larger retailers.”
Shukin and Campbell are also considering options for constructing the product entirely in Canada.
They hope to source environmentally friendly materials and are looking into options for sourcing the wood for the Firetent from deadfall and other naturally fallen trees.
Those discussions and the future of the product hinge upon the success of their Kickstarter, but the partners are feeling confident that the Firetent will attract interest.
“The Island is a perfect place for this,” said Campbell. “Our hope is to do more than just provide a product…It’s about solving problems that exist, with a focus on sustainability.”
The Firetent Kickstarter is currently running until April 15th. Those interested in donating can do so online.