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Made in Canada

Posted by Like Grandpa on

Made in Canada

Three words that inspire pride, catch my attention, and often justify me paying a little more - Made in Canada. Damn, I love those words.  The closer to home something is made, the harder it is for me to stop talking about it.

I was scrolling through our Instagram feed the other day, when I spotted a claim from a company saying that a particular shaving product was Canadian made.  Well, being a shave enthusiast with a background in manufacturing, I was almost certain that it was made overseas. The fact that it was almost identical to a well known Chinese product was a dead give away.  So, I took a minute, contacted the company to confirm I was correct and then reached out to the store that had inadvertently false advertised.  I’m sure it was an honest mistake, or was it?

There is big money to be made out there passing off imported goods as local.  Higher prices means better margins, which means better profitability for stores and resellers.  With the market being flooded with all the imported goods we could ever want and no exclusivity where it is sold, retailers need a step up.

Enter the idea of “local-washing”. Where a company passes something off as locally made that is not, or presents imported products next to locally made goods to give the impression that everything is made local.  This may seem like nothing, but to us makers this is a big deal. 

With the growing support for handmade items, and local products from local companies, there is also a growth of “makers” and individuals that tip toe that grey zone on ambiguity.  This comes in many different forms.  Some may design their product and outsource it overseas for manufacturing.  This is often disguised as “designed in Canada”.  Others may import a product with their logo on it and sell it next to products they actually made.  Ever wonder why almost every Beard Comb or Beard Brush on the market comes in only four or so different designs?

Then there is the category that we call “decorated in Canada”.  This is where a company will buy the base functional pieces, and then apply a design or process, and pass it off as “Made in Canada”.  Now this is where things get tricky.  There is actually a threshold set forward by the government for value added processing that stipulates if a product qualifies as Canadian made.  When you take that mug or pencil from overseas, press a clever word into the face of it, and call it Canadian made, I can assure you that most of the time it does not meet this threshold.  For me, I simply say, when the base function of something is not made in Canada, it is not locally made.

But should we care?  YES! Not only does local-washing directly hurt local makers, but it dilutes the quality and banner of 'Canadian Made'. If a product is advertised as handmade, locally made, or made in Canada, it sure better be!  

Now, we all realize that there are some products that will not be made locally.  Whether its the cost is too high, or there isn’t the manufacturing support and that is okay! We aren't saying don't buy those items, we definitely do sometimes. There are some great products out there, no matter where they are made!

As a consumer, we just want transparency and to understand what we are actually buying.

So how do you protect yourself from local washing...

This isn’t always the easiest thing to do.  There are endless tricks and ways that companies can tiptoe the line, but here are a few ways to start protecting yourself.

  1. Ask “Where is this manufactured” not “is this Made in Canada/locally”.  Many individuals assume Canadian Companies sell Canadian made goods, and have an automatic response to this.  Usually when you ask where it is manufactured, you will get answers like “the mug made in China but we add our own design onto it".

  2. Reach out to the company directly.
    Often retailers might not know, or staff make mistakes.  Email the company making the product and ask them where it is manufactured. 

  3. If something looks too good to be true, ask questions. 
    If the product looks identical to imported goods, it means one of three things:  They are really good at what they do and exceed industry standards (Canadian manufacturers often do), they are working with a Canadian Manufacturer, or they are importing.  

  4. Ask questions about how it is made. 
    If you are talking directly to the maker or company making it, they should have a good idea of the processes and steps involved to manufacture their product.  If they cannot detail how the product goes from nothing to something, there might be something wrong.  As a maker, I LOVE chatting about my craft, and most other makers are the same. 

  5. Beware of ambiguous language. 
    This can come in the form of, “We do have Canadian suppliers”, or “a portion is Made in Canada”.  If this is the case, they are likely tip toeing the line.  Ask which portions are made here, or ask why a larger portion isn’t made here.

There is big money to be made passing manufactured and imported goods off as handmade of Made in Canada.  Make sure you are informed and asking the right questions to ensure that your hard earned dollars are being spent here in Canada, if that's what you'd like it do! We always want to educate, no matter what you decide to buy! 

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How we formulate our products

Posted by Like Grandpa on

How we formulate our products

With today's post, you are in for a treat here at Like Grandpa.  We don’t often go into detail on the process of how we formulate our products, but we figured we would give you a peak behind the curtain.  Let us know if you find this kind of post interesting!

While we could go into extreme detail on each step, it would create a very long post. Just know that we spend a lot of time intentionally developing every product into exactly what we want it to be.

The steps below are what each product goes through before we launch. This will often take 3-12 months to tweak and refine, sometimes longer, if we have setbacks in the beginning.

Shaving gift pack with Pre-Shave Oil, Shave Soap, After Shave Balm, and After Shave Splash.

  1. Blank page - What characteristics do we want the final product to have?  If we could describe our perfect product what would it be?
  2. Our ‘NO’ list - We don’t want our product to do these things or they should be different in these area. *sometimes this NO list is what leads us to developing a specific product in the first place.
  3. First principles - The list of ingredients that can contribute to a final formula.  A combination of science and experience.  Specific ingredients handle in predictable ways, so which long list of ingredients can be predict might fit within this product.
  4. High level prototyping - Trying out some preliminary formulas to see if things are viable. This is where our most epic failures come from.  We always learn the most in this stage.
  5. Prototyping different variations - We take a few drastically different bases and see how we like them. While reaching out to our testing network to see what their thoughts are.
  6. Sensitivity Analysis - Once a base is selected as something we like, we vary each and every ingredient across an entire range. This is to see how each corresponding characteristic changes in performance and where the “sweet spot is”.  This means a ridiculous amount of tests.  A formula might have 4-8 ingredients, and we could vary each ingredient over 3-8 concentrations.  If you do the math, it equal LOTS!! (our latest Aftershave Splash had 28 variations in this stage)
  7. Second round testing - We pick out a handful of front runners with unique characteristics (reference blank page section)  and give them to our testing network to review. 
  8. Revisions - This is where we take the feedback of our testers and tweak the formula to get the best result we can.
  9. Scent selection and variation - Single note scents vary drastically based on processing method and point of origin.  Selecting the perfect single note is harder than one might think. As you may have noticed, we don't like to do any blends. For us, we strongly believe that simplicity of scents helps create a soothing experience when using our products.
  10. Final product testing. - This is testing with our broader test group for final approval.
  11. Delivery to market - Which is the most exciting stage, as you can imagine!

Thats a lot of steps eh?  Usually we have 2-4 products in various stages of development at any time.  Half of the products we create don’t make it to market. This is because we feel they don’t perform as well as we want, or we would have to use ingredients we don’t like to get the performance we desire.  Sometimes, a product is developed, and then shelved because the formula makes it difficult to manufacture.  That happens too.

You might think that as a small manufacturer we just toss some coconut oil and whatever we have in the pantry into a bottle, slap a label on and sell it.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Next time you pick up your Like Grandpa (or Like Grandma) product, think about how each and every decision that was made just for you.

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