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Cellar Chats

Sagaform’s Award-Winning Design and Innovation

June 09, 2021

Written By Coravin

Sagaform, founded more than 25 years ago, creates beautiful and functional Swedish designs centered around the feeling of giving and receiving. To learn more about the brand, we talked to Bill McHenry, President of Sagaform and President and CEO of Widgeteer, Inc. 

Watch our interview with Bill and then shop Sagaform’s thoughtfully designed, unique products on the Coravin marketplace.

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Sagaform’s Award-Winning Design and Innovation

Lindsay Buck, Coravin: Today I'm talking with Bill McHenry, President of Sagaform whose products we carry on the marketplace at Coravin.com. Welcome, Bill, how are you?

Bill McHenry, Sagaform: Great, Lindsay, how are you? Thanks for having me.

LB: I see that Sagaform became part of Widgeteer, right at the beginning of the pandemic. How did that work out for the company?

BM: Well, we actually made the agreement at Ambiente, a consumer goods trade fair, in the middle of February 2020. As I flew home from Frankfurt, Germany, on an empty airplane, I knew something was probably going to happen – I actually was a little nervous. But, it turned out to be an absolutely fantastic, fantastic thing for the company. We've opened up new classes of trade – we now are in the premium incentive market. We opened up new retailers because we sell a really gift-able product. We're now in smaller retailers, so it's really expanded our customer base.

LB: That's great to hear. Some brands have fared better than others, and a lot of the housewares have done quite well. What attracted you to the brand?

BM: A number of things. First, I found [Sagaform] because all the products are designed by well-known Scandinavian designers – I thought they were really pretty. I think they're really made very well. We try to find products that are unique in the marketplace and unique in the world. But, I also don't want to find just inexpensive products, I really like to find products that both our customers, our retail partners, and Widgeteer can make money on.

LB: What makes the Sagaform products unique? 

BM: A couple of things. One is the fact that we use designers to create the products, which I think is very different from an engineer coming up with a new widget, if you will. [They are really thoughtful about] the design of the product. I also think they look at the coloring – most of ours are glassware. And, I think there's also a lot of unique features. In fact, we won a Global Innovation Award on our expandable vase a couple of years ago. Of all the pieces that I should have next to me to show you, Lindsay, it’s that one. 

I was really proud of that award. The International Housewares Association, which I'm just thrilled to be a part of, actually started the Global Innovation Awards, seven years ago and Widgeteer has won five times – and that was one of winning ones so it's really, really cool. Something to be proud of.

LB: That's amazing. Are the products still designed in Sweden?

BM: Everything is designed in Sweden. There are several different designers and what's interesting is that the designers are very well-known in the retail environment within Sweden, Norway and Finland. That's really interesting.

LB: That's very cool. What products are doing best in the American market. 

BM: What’s been interesting is many of them are [popular]. Our red wine carafe, which is just a basic wine carafe designed by Max Bordstrom , has a ball  made of oak that goes on top to keep the wine from getting more air in it. That's been one of our best sellers. It's done amazingly well. We were also very fortunate that Jennifer Lawrence had decided to put on a list of the top items she wanted her bridal registry in in 2019. Our red wine carafe was the third on the list.

I don't know if I can do a plug with Jennifer Lawrence, but I’ll like to thank her anyway. Our expandable base has done very well. We have some glassware that has gold on the bottom that we call our Club Gold Collection. It's very pretty glassware and the gold really made it enticing, especially to younger consumers. As everyone knows, as you get into the design, things always seem to come around again. Gold and brass kind of went out of [style] several years ago, but now it's back and all our glassware is gold. Then the designs of our glassware are really cool. We have a whiskey glass that actually has a point on the bottom – we call it a rocking tumbler. The the glass won't actually sit straight up, and you can just spin it around. It's something silly, but it's something that consumers really use and I think makes it fun.

LB: What's your favorite product line within Sagaform?

BM: My favorite really is the Nature Collection – that is a combination of the of the glassware and the oak stoppers. I think the combination of glass and wood is really pretty. And, it's done very well with all our retail partners. So, that’s probably my favorite. 

LB: Which of the Sagaform products do you use the most in your daily life?

BM: Well, I probably shouldn't admit to the red wine carafe because that seems to be on our table a lot more than maybe it should be. But, my wife and enjoy a glass of wine.

LB: We're a wine company so we promote that.

BM: We use Coravin product on our wine all the time. It's actually helped us not drink as much because now we can seal the bottle and we're not feeling [pressured] to drink the whole bottle or open the second.

We also have a Champagne glass from our Club Gold Collection that I think is really [great] and, of course, our whiskey rocking tumblers are good, too.

LB: Awesome. Our company mission at Coravin is to change the way the world experiences wine. What's your favorite wine experience?

BM: You know, it's funny, I will cheat a little bit and tell the audience that you gave me some questions so I could think about it a little bit. I wanted to share two because wine has been a very important part of my family's life. It's something that we've all really enjoyed and as my boys have gotten older, we've enjoyed it together as well.

My most recent, or my favorite, story is that I actually started Widgeteer as a result of a wine experience. I was having a bottle of wine with my dad years ago, talking about what I should do next, because I was about to sell a business and start something new. We were just sitting around in our place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, enjoying a bottle of wine, and started talking about different things and that’s how Widgeteer started. Then, of course, my wife Nancy and I have been out to Northern California and Oregon several times and I've just really enjoyed the pairing of wines and food. It's fascinating to me – just fascinating.

LB: Anything you'd like to plug or any exciting product developments on the horizon for Widgeteer and/or Sagaform?

BM: Well, within our Sagaform brand, we're actually launching a sub-brand called Beyond and there's going to be some really cool, unique products. We launched some of them at the Atlanta market this past January and the response to many of the items was really amazing. It's a lot of glassware, glass straws – all sorts of products around drinking. We're also going to add a new brand of product that I'm a little hesitant to say the brand yet...

It's very interesting glassware by a company in Italy that actually makes glassware. And it's a manufacturing technique that they have to not only etch, but also design the glasses and the glassware. Then they have all sorts of different shapes and sizes. That’s going to be a really cool addition to our assortment of brands at Widgeteer.

LB: Well, thank you so much for your time today Bill. Remember to check out the Sagaform products at the Coravin.com marketplace, and I wish you best of luck in 2021!