STEL x Nomad | A Relationship Built on Collaboration

Date: November 2020
Filed Under: Design, Product

At STEL, client relationships aren’t just contracts on a timeline, they are full team integrations. Our partnership with Nomad, a local Santa Barbara business and our very first client, is no exception. As two young, hungry startups, STEL and Nomad have developed a relationship built on innovation, creating products designed to make an impact on the everyday explorer’s life. 

When we started working together in 2015, we had plenty in common. They were dedicated to creating beautiful and rugged tools for the everyday adventurer. And we were dedicated to bringing big ideas to life. We were two companies on the same mission.


Our Beginnings

Nomad launched in 2012 with a single Kickstarter campaign. As a small company, they had plenty of big ideas and, more importantly, they had big ideas that could improve people’s lives. Products like the ChargeCard, Charge Key, and others enable people to elevate the efficiency of their everyday routine, building convenience and simplicity into their rhythms. 

These products are the perfect combination of innovation and accessibility, helping people make the most of technology to create even more flexibility and freedom. But, as most innovators know, good ideas are just the beginning. Nomad looked to expand their product line and capabilities, which meant increased production and engineering. They needed seasoned product designers and engineers who could not only build equally sturdy and stunning products but build them in a way that was actually manufacturable; a firm that could fully develop their concepts to bring them to life.

In the world of product design, there are hundreds of firms that can simply make a product. The team at Nomad, however, was looking for someone who could take it a step further; someone who could work with them to design their concept, prototype it, improve it, and produce it. Beyond that, they wanted a partner who understood their values as a company, could mass produce their products efficiently, and hold to industry-leading quality standards.


More than a Partnership

At STEL, we value freedom over formality and bringing incredible concepts to life. When Nomad came to us with their design, engineering, and production needs, we saw more than just a project proposal; this was the beginning of a long-standing partnership. Collaborating with Nomad meant an exciting design freedom to bring their ideas off a sketchbook and into our hands. Soon after their launch, STEL took over the development and engineering of Nomad’s products, using our supply chain and factory resources to bring life to their life-improving products.

As a team of designers, engineers, strategists, and leaders, working with Nomad felt like second nature: we all shared the same drive to create an impactful product portfolio. Our teams integrated quickly and seamlessly, and each started to grow in parallel. Because we’d developed such a strong relationship, STEL had Nomad’s trust and confidence to own the entire process from concept sketches to production in order to meet both party’s high standards. From the beginning, this partnership meant we could use our flexibility to quickly iterate new designs for new products. We could use our extensive resources as an independent design firm to help them expand their product line more quickly and efficiently than their internal team ever could. Between STEL’s design and development, and Nomad’s sale and marketing, it’s been a powerful partnership ever since.

Our creative process in developing Nomad’s product portfolio was directly influenced by their founding values: resourcefulness, adventure, and living life in the moment. Maybe it’s something about Santa Barbara, but there were no egos at this table, just two teams wanting to exceed every expectation the industry had for each of Nomad’s new products. Each meeting was an explorative investigation, a way for both teams to find out what works for both the products and their development. Every client is different, and we built our processes specifically to meet their needs in a way that aligned with both team’s sets of core values.


The Power of Collaboration

Product design firms exist to create solutions to complex problems, to fill holes in clients’ teams and processes. We pride ourselves in serving this function for Nomad, but it’s not what makes our collaboration style unique. We’re a team of dreamers, creatives, collaborators, and professionals who live to share capabilities and possibilities with our clients, and that was the driving factor in our success with Nomad. We provide a full turnkey solution injected with passion for our clients, creating processes and products they can rely on and fall in love with.

Since we began our first project with Nomad’s ChargeCard, our teams and processes have grown even closer together. With every cutting edge idea and new challenge posed, STEL has expanded our service offering to make them possible. Nomad has expanded from just one product to more than 30, ranging from state-of-the-art wireless charging stations to innovative technology accessories and medical supplies. As Nomad grows, so does STEL, and vice versa. This kind of partnership has enabled both of us to challenge each other, test our limits, and rise to the occasion so we can collaborate in a powerful way and create amazing products. 

We bring on clients because we love what we do, and love what they do. We love to solve problems and build on big ideas—and our relationship with Nomad is a reflection of exactly that. Check out our most recent work with Nomad HERE to see what we’ve been up to.