As an award-winning food writer, Sierra Tishgart has seen a lot of great cookware in her time. copper Mauviel pots, Le Creuset enameled cast iron Dutch ovens, and All-Clad sauciers. But as Tishgart surveyed all of this fancy expensive cookware, she felt like many of these brands weren’t really speaking to younger consumers like herself.

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  For one thing, most of these pots and pans were prohibitively expensive, partly because they were all sold through through department stores, which layered on middleman markups. The whole cookware industry seemed to be unnecessarily complicated, making it impossible to tell what made one skillet better than another. And neither the branding nor the products themselves seemed designed to appeal to twenty- and thirtysomethings, who are starting to invest in their homes. “I found myself at home more, and wanting to become a better home cook,” Tishgart says. “But I found the process of figuring out what I need in the kitchen really overwhelming, and cookware seemed to lack originality in design.”

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  [photo: Danny Kim/courtesy Great Jones]

  That’s when Tishgart came up with the idea for Great Jones, a new cookware company aimed at young home cooks, which sells attractive pots and pans online. (The startup is named after Judith Jones, the cookbook author and editor who published the work of Julia Child, James Beard, and others. She passed away last year at the age of 93.) To help Tishgart launch the business, she reached out to Maddy Moelis, one of her closest friends, whom she met at the age of eight at summer camp. Moelis happened to have graduated from The Wharton School at the University of pennsylvania, where many direct-to-consumer brands got their start. Moelis started her career working for several fast-growing startups, including Warby parker and wedding registry company Zola, which gave her a clear view into the homeware space. “I saw how big a business cookware is, but I also saw how hard it was for the big, classic cookware brands to reach a millennial audience,” says Moelis. “Brand managers and the marketing teams at those companies struggled to speak in a voice that was relevant to our generation.”

  The two of them raised a small friends and family funding round to get Great Jones off the ground, and are now ready to take on the $2.1 billion global cookware industry, which is expected to experience significant growth by 2024, with analysts expecting it to more than double. Data shows that 60% of first-time home buyers today are millennials. These twenty- and thirtysomethings are outfitting their new houses with homewares and kitchen products. So the founders believe it’s the right time to introduce a new cookware brand oriented toward them.

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  But there’s competition. MadeIn is a notable competitor; it launched online in 2016 with a line of stainless steel pots and pans. Milo launched in April this year with a single product, a $95 Dutch oven. And there are also several knife and kitchen tool brands on the market, including Material Kitchen and Misen. (Kitchen brands seem to like “M” names.)

  Great Jones’s introductory collection consists of four pieces of stainless steel cookware (a saucepan, a saute pan, a stock pot, and a small fry pan with a ceramic non-stick coating) and one Dutch oven. They’re all priced between $45 and $145, while the full set can be purchased for $395, which puts it on par with brands you might find at Target like Cuisinart, and significantly cheaper than brands you might find at speciality stores like Sur La Table, like Demeyere or Staub. Tishgart and Moelis say they’ve used the same materials that high-end brands use to ensure even distribution of heat during cooking, making it less likely that you’ll burn your food. They make their products in factories based in Hong Kong (I have not tested these products in the kitchen, so I can’t speak to how well they work in action.)

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