STAJ OLSON, CEO OF IGNEOUS BATH - 'FINISHING STRONG' IS A MUST HAVE TRAIT
FINISH STRONG LIKE CONCRETE: Igneous is an award-winning manufactory that is revolutionising the luxury bath sector with it's hand-sculpted, heated, luxury concrete soaking tubs. We talk about the work of art that is an Igneous concrete bath tub, his mission to achieve a more equitable deal for highly-skilled craftspeople and the importance of finishing strong.
"I believe Igneous is the needed addition to the industry. The existing model of luxury plumbing is selling mass-produced items."
"I am driven to create a company that benefits both creators and clients, while expanding the definition of luxury bathrooms."
Tell us about Staj Olson's journey to creative and entrepreneur.
My father is skilled at rebuilding and selling wrecked Cessna’s and was a project manger for a large US based retirement company and a custom home builder for many years. He raised me that anything worth doing was always worth doing right. I have been obsessed with training and learning with the consistent desire to always do my best at whatever I am doing. Yes, my parents did raise me to believe I could be anything I put my mind to -from a very young age they taught me the motto: I’m not normal, I’m not average, I am Staj. I spent a decade pursuing 4 apprenticeships under 2nd and 3rd generation tile setters and owned my own tile company for a while -I realized I had pursued that path to its final destination.
I then pursued learning everything I could about modern luxury fiber reinforced concrete. I methodically tested every aspect of molding and materials I could conceive of. I participated in professionally training and educating others in how to apply what I had learned. Generally speaking; individuals with a future in engineering, design or architecture don’t volunteer for difficult and dirty concrete fabrication. The distress you place your body under daily and the conditions you ply your trade in disparage most from pursuing this path. Craftsmen to be sure even many artists plot a course here, but very few attempt to see what the true limits of this medium are. Of those persuaded to pursue modern concrete, few deviate from normal countertops and coffee tables. I would like to change this.
I believe modern luxury concrete to be one of the most useful mediums available to us. Very high compressive strength, excellent flexural strength and the ability to be anything you can imagine. I am creating Igneous to make industry leading luxury bathroom fixtures and to allow artists, craftsmen and anyone willing to finish strong to learn the unlimited potential of modern concrete.
"I am creating Igneous to make industry leading luxury bathroom fixtures and to allow artists, craftsmen and anyone willing to finish strong to learn the unlimited potential of modern concrete."
What makes Igneous special?
Igneous does not mass produce or duplicate monotony. Igneous swings for the fences, innovates and creates. We reach for the limits then establish safety parameters and then then begin to design. Igneous can efficiently and effectively create each tub, uniquely customized to satisfy each client. We can tailor our approach to delivering luxury to every client differently. This allows us to be intentional about continuing to learn and innovate. Growth and transition are built into the Igneous charter, we can embrace change because we are not set in our ways nor do we wish to be.
What drives you?
In a nut shell I am driven to create a company that benefits both creators and clients, while expanding the definition of luxury bathrooms. Making a living and supporting our loved ones is a key primary function of working. Often, I feel highly skilled individuals are unable to reap the rewards of their efforts. Their dependence on others requires that portions of what their labor creates be paid to everyone else in the stream. When this exchange is equitable I would call it symbiotic. I believe it’s best for all parties to realize their need for the others and the benefits they receive through collaboration and balancing all the different gifts in a sustainable manner. The Igneous brand is being built around the premise of fair trade. An equitable return for what you contribute.
"I believe it’s best for all parties to realize their need for the others and the benefits they receive through collaboration and balancing all the different gifts in a sustainable manner. The Igneous brand is being built around the premise of fair trade. An equitable return for what you contribute."
Tell us about the challenges a pioneer faces?
Raising capital for something new and innovative. I believe it is a catch 22; if your product is innovative it will be challenging to sell since it doesn’t fit into an existing box or known description. On top of each sales interaction you will be required to also perform product education, and often product rationalization. On the other hand, if the product isn’t innovative then you will have lots of competition for your market space. In a start-up you must proficiently wear every conceivable hat; including all the ones you never liked or wanted to wear. You will not be gifted, properly educated or equipped during several parts of your journey. Get good enough, fast enough, to make it through these phases and back into your strong suit. Life is too short; be great at what is unique to you rather than being mediocre at something others are amazing at. Hire them, they also need to be great in their field.
How do you overcome these challenges?
I don’t find my coping methods innovative, just practical. For all the things I am not amazing at I do my very best to find a stellar guru willing to mentor me. I applaud them all with my deepest gratitude for their dedication and patience with me as I struggle to conquer these new obstacles.
I believe walking all these paths personally will uniquely prepare me to lead and mentor others, walking a mile in another’s shoes has no substitute. I also burned the boats; this was pivotal for me. Knowing there is no escape and success is the only option has reduced time wasted looking for other options of retreat. For me, the only focus had to be win or sink giving it everything you have. Knowing that there is nothing behind you to run back to, saves all that wasted time. It frees you up to focus on what can still be done to succeed - the best defense is a great offense, if you are totally obsessed with success and can’t imagine anything else, it is incredibly unlikely that success will be able to evade you.
Where is your industry currently and where is it heading?
I believe Igneous is the needed addition to the industry. The existing model of luxury plumbing is selling mass-produced items. Reproductions of similar designs without excepting options that are outside the box, innovative or disruptive. Having crossed America touring all the high-end plumbing showrooms I could locate, they were all offering the same products nationwide. Buy-in groups set the standards for what you will be able to find or what options will be available to you. Designers and Architects almost never share or advertise what they were able to accomplish in the bathrooms, because they are using the same parts and can’t really get any separation for their brand: Tile shower with a glass panel and several showerheads, the same tubs are seen seen everywhere.
A new wave of luxury product designers are emerging with 3D printing and the Artist/Maker movement growing in popularity. Small firms can custom create a better version of almost anything, supply it locally and market directly to their clients or to architects and designers with no need of conforming to the standard plumbing wholesale showroom system. These showrooms will continue to exist, and mass-produced plumbing fixtures will still be needed, but quality custom creations will compete strongly with these old ways at the upper end of the luxury sector.
How can entrepreneurs tap into corporate best practise?
Get tutored and mentored by titans of industry, ask to get your advice directly from the source. Be dedicated to appreciating their time and commitment helping you. Most people have had to go through all of this to get to the top. Most of them aren’t there because they are inept, they are there because they had what it takes to survive failures and grow, be hurt and do it again tomorrow anyway. They have learned the most powerful lessons. Look up to learn and don’t look sideways or down. Look up to those who have learned from their mistakes, ask them.
"A new wave of luxury product designers are emerging with 3D printing and the Artist/Maker movement growing in popularity. Small firms can custom create a better version of almost anything, supply it locally and market directly to their clients or to architects and designers with no need of conforming to the standard plumbing wholesale showroom system."
What exciting developments are happening at Igneous?
Just this year Igneous is pleased to share we are now offering a massive Bluetooth sound system upgrade. This amazing system can produce every frequency from 20hz-20,000hz. Many studies have pointed to potential health and wellness benefits. Igneous is now actively pursuing empirical scientific studies into these areas. Igneous plans to provide test tubs to several multidisciplinary doctorate research studies focused on testing the effects of cryotherapies, balneotherapies, hydrotherapies, acoustic therapies on a wide range of maladies. Our aspiration is to improve as many facets of “quality of life” as possible. Please reach out to me if you are participating in such testing. Anyone considering an Igneous bathtub is encouraged to contact us for personal assistance.
What motivational quotes resonate strongly with you?
Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Finish Strong. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
How can we finish this strongly?
Here are our commitments to our clients and partners: We will work tirelessly to remove all signs of human flaws from our products. We will polish each product until there are no imperfections. We will not cut corners or fail to finish strong on every product. We will exhaustively test and do our very best to improve everything we offer. We will do everything to grow and work in the best interest of everyone around us. We will behave as a fiduciary to our clients, placing their best interest before our own. We will behave as a fiduciary to our partners, placing their best interest before our own. Igneous has these expectations placed on it, therefore guaranteeing a successful business with a harmonious relation with clients and partners.
Find out more: www.igneousbath.com