Behind many products is an individual or team driven by a desire to bring to market a solution to an age-old problem. In the case of the new Clear ‘N’ Collect Multi-Purpose Rake, the team leading the way is husband and wife, James and Sally-Anne Coneron. Together James and Sally-Anne are on a mission to change the way we remove leaves and debris from our gardens, patios and driveways, with the Clear ‘N’ Collect brand a true passion project; one that is launching a new generation of garden tools and exciting new material innovation. Here we catch up with James and Sally-Anne to find out more about the inspiration for the product, and what the team has in store for the future.
A career turned idea – the inspiration for the Clear ‘N’ Collect brand
James: “Like many ideas the Clear ‘N’ Collect Multi-Purpose Rake was borne from an ongoing complaint I had. I worked as a landscape gardener for over 20 years, during which time I had used a wide array of tools to tackle the issue of debris in the garden, but not a single one did the job completely. It was a constant juggling act between rake, spade and broom, which over time took its toll with the constant bending and stretching. I just knew there had to be a better way.
“After many years of listening to my musings on the topic my wife, Sally-Anne, tasked me with channelling this thinking into some real product development, with the lightbulb moment coming in March 2019. Within the day I had created the first cardboard prototype of the Clear ‘N’ Collect Multi-Purpose Rake, testing it by collecting balled up pieces of paper off the kitchen floor!
“Fast forward just a matter of days and I had already reached out to a Patent Lawyer to draw up a patent application to ensure that my idea was covered by comprehensive IP protection. The crucial product development stage followed as it was of paramount importance to ensure that the tool was not only functional but that it also didn’t compromise on its durability, lightweight design, or value for money and effectiveness. We went though many more prototypes to ensure we met this strict criterion, all of which massively influenced the end design. With our final 3D printed design ready to go, it was time to find a manufacturer.”
Plastic but make it exciting – how Clear ‘N’ Collect is placing recycled materials front and centre
Sally-Anne: “It was really important for us to utilise a material which delivered results but didn’t impact upon the environment, and we wanted to work with a company that held similar values. We spoke with lots of different manufacturers both here in the UK as well as internationally and found that Modern Mould Associates in Hampshire really understood our mission. Together we were able to forge ahead with the design to create something that we knew would deliver, whilst also helping to push the envelope for British industry during a time of manufacturing source evaluation post-COVID-19 as well as the pressures of Brexit.
“One thing we didn’t expect to happen, and we’re so glad it did, is the material innovation which the body (scoop) of each Clear ‘N’ Collect Multi-Purpose Rake is made from. Our original plan was to either use material which was widely recyclable at the end of its lifecycle or utilise as much existing plastic as possible. Safe to say that end-of-life car dashboards and waste electrical goods were not originally on our radar! Channelling these waste products away from landfill not only plays a part in protecting the environment, but it also helps give the product a really interesting backstory, one which we hope opens up the eyes of consumers to the world of possibility that comes with recycled material innovation. We honestly do believe that the realisation of the 100% recycled plastic used helps to encourage sales at the point of purchase, whether as a talking point, intrigue or simply because consumers want to make more environmentally friendly purchasing decisions. Either way it’s a win-win for retailers.”
The growth of Clear ‘N’ Collect
James: “It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come since our lightbulb moment. In the last 18 months we have built the brand from the ground up, with the first stockists taking us in-store in August 2020. In just a few short months we have seen our retail stockists grow and we are now currently stocked in 33 retailers including high street retailers and leading UK garden centres.
Looking ahead we are not taking our foot off the accelerator! We’re investing in more point of sale to better communicate the USPs of the product and material innovation, as well as investing in PR and marketing content to help get our product in front of buyers and end-users via the media and social media routes. We’re also looking across the pond and hope to start building stockists within the US next year. We’re currently in talks with an American online retailer which we hope will deliver results. Of course, our ultimate aim is to see our Multi-Purpose Rake being enjoyed in every garden across the world! And why not?! It’s good to aim high!”
The Clear ‘N’ Collect Multi-Purpose Rake
When it comes to tidying up debris in the garden many of us reach for the rake, shovel and broom. But what if these were all merged into one super mega tool that does everything at once? Step forward the Multi-Purpose Rake from Clear ‘N’ Collect.
The key feature of this rake is that it makes collecting debris faster and more efficient. It changes the method of collecting rubbish in that there is no need to create piles of waste in the conventional way. Instead the Multi-Purpose Rake enables the debris to be collected at the same time of raking. This not only minimises time spent raking and collecting, but it also reduces the amount of bending and stretching that comes from this task traditionally, meaning it’s good for all backs and provides an ideal solution for those that suffer from ongoing back complaints.
Protecting natural habitats
Clear ‘N’ Collect also provides an eco-friendly alternative to noisy, power-consuming leaf blowers. James explains: “There is a lot of research regarding the damage that leaf blowers are having on wildlife. Recent reports have highlighted that leaf blowers not only pollute with noise and fuel emissions, but they can also destroy natural habitats and even cause small animals and insects to be absorbed or blown, causing irreparable damage. As such, consumers are moving away from this method. Until now the alternatives have been time and energy consuming, but again we have countered this with our ergonomic design which makes light work of clearing lawns, driveways and patios (not just blowing the debris elsewhere!), without damaging wildlife habitats.”
The Clear ‘N’ Collect is the perfect solution for gardeners who have limited storage space in sheds, garages or outbuildings for multiple tools. Measuring just 1050 x 430 x 150mm when closed, it can easily be tucked away when not in use.