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HOME - INTERVIEW

Interview with Rebecca Stilwell, Co-Founder of Blazing Beats

As consumers with an expectation of innovation, we always appreciate functional products that add fun to our lives. I talked with Rebecca Stilwell about Blazing Beats, an innovative firepit that adds style to backyard meetings.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Rebecca Stilwell and Brandon Stilwell

Rebecca Stilwell and Brandon Stilwell

HOME - INTERVIEW

by Mehmet Kaplan

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Fire symbolizes the beginning of humanity and is perhaps the first major innovation that has touched human life. The control of fire led to the end of the dark ages and illuminated the path of the values ‚Äč‚Äčthat make us who we are. Throughout history, fire, the symbol of both destruction and life, has been at the heart of wars, science, and the industrial revolution. We learned to control it in today's modern world, using all the advantages of fire in our kitchens, home heating, or camps, but Rebecca and Brandon took it to the next level. Blazing Beats is a great example of how different and admirable results can be when you go behind an instant idea. Rebecca and Brandon Stilwell taught dancing to the flame and create an extraordinary result in an industry where such stylish innovations are hard to find. Before Rebecca and Brandon, the flames of the fires we lit in our backyard or camp could only dance improvised by the breeze of the wind, but they changed it and created dancing flames with the song you wanted. I talked with Rebecca Stilwell, Co-Founder and Owner of Blazing Beats, about her life and Blazing Beats Dancing Firepit.

Rebecca, before talking about Blazing Beats, could you tell us about yourself?

I grew up as a country girl who could almost always be found on the back of a horse. While I've lived in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Alabama, and Oklahoma growing up, I spent the majority of my childhood in southern Oklahoma. We were very poor growing up. We rarely had enough food to eat, and were sometimes homeless and living in the mountains in Colorado or deserts in Utah. It was very difficult at the time, but it ultimately gave me an extraordinary perspective in life, and granted me the ability to approach challenges and difficulties with endurance and fortitude. I am both humbled by and grateful for the people in my life that help me become better. My passions in life are horses, writing, inventing, and my family. I live in Oklahoma City with my husband, Brandon Stilwell, and my three boys. Brandon and I have been married and business partners for 14 years. We started with a landscaping and pool company, then we expanded our company into solely building custom pools with caves and water features, often consulting with and training other companies across the United States. We've always had a passion for creating unique experiences for our customers.

Brandon and Rebecca Stilwell

Brandon and Rebecca Stilwell

How did you come up with the idea of combining music and fire? What inspired you?

Brandon and I are always inspired by the impossible, and our goal is to recreate the outdoor recreation space. We try to think of products that don't yet exist. One day we saw Ruben's tube and immediately thought, "Why hasn't anyone ever turned this into a fire pit?" We sold and installed a lot of fire pits in the landscaping business, and we thought it would be great to be able to offer a dancing fire pit to our customers. It fit perfectly with our modus operandi of specializing in the ridiculous. After we launched the Blazing Beats, it became so successful that we had to put aside our pool business and go into full-time manufacturing.

Blazing Beats Dancing Firepit

Blazing Beats Dancing Firepit

Could you tell us about Blazing Beats and your team?

Blazing Beats, and its sister company TRU Innovative Outdoor, focuses heavily on our culture and people. We believe that it's not just about the products and companies we build, it's how we build them. Brandon and I have had the great honor of meeting some of the most amazing people from around the world, and regardless of the capacity in which someone works with us-- from employees, supply partners, or delivery drivers, we want to make sure people know they always come first. People would rather follow leaders that are real than leaders who are always right. We focus on growing our leaders from inside the company and helping people reach their full potential. We work hard, but we like to have a lot of fun doing it.

Blazing Beats Dancing Firepit

Blazing Beats Dancing Firepit

What have you paid attention to the most in the design and development process of Blazing Beats?

Our first prototype cost us $2,000, and it failed spectacularly. We went straight to work solving the issues we ran into: warped stainless steel, speakers melting, cost issues, and much, much more. It seemed like whenever we would solve one problem, it created two additional problems. After months of trial and error (and a lot of late nights) we had a viable product. The unit was safe, affordable, and a lot of fun. We launched it and won Finalist in the 2017 Vesta Awards by Hearth and Home magazine in the "Art of Fire" category. We have continued to have great success by lowering the price through continued value engineering, creating our own custom motherboards and sound systems, and improving the design and style by creating our own concrete surrounds that we manufacture here in Oklahoma City.

The heart of the Blazing Beats is Dancing Flame Technology. Could you tell us about Dancing Flame Technology?

The Blazing Beats Dancing Flame Technology is unique because it uses science to create the dancing flames, not a valve system. We wanted to create the most dynamic and authentic show possible while retaining simplicity in the product. It was actually easier to make the product work with complex solenoids and valves, but we were determined to infuse simplicity to keep the cost low, the show captivating, and the use and ownership of the product simple.

Blazing Beats Dancing Firepit

Blazing Beats Dancing Firepit

How many different Blazing Beats design options do you offer?

We have two burner sizes available, a 24" burner and a 19" burner. We offer a wide range of surround and countertop options, including wood designs, stone designs, and 6 different granite countertop options. We also offer a construction model so that customers can buy the components from us and have their own surround and countertop built to match their style.

What are the features of Blazing Beats?

The 19" burner is available in either Natural Gas or Liquid Propane. The 24" burner is only available in Liquid Propane. The audio system comprises of 2 DD Audio 6" full range 100 watts 4 ohm speakers set in ported and tuned enclosures for the best sound. The custom source unit has Bluetooth 4.2 and Auxiliary input for streaming music. We also integrated a MIC input with gain control for an electric instrument or a microphone for karaoke. There is also independent Flame and Volume controls, so you can have music playing without the flames on, music playing with flames on but not dancing, or flames on with no music like a "regular" fire pit.

Rebecca Stilwell and Brandon Stilwell

Rebecca Stilwell and Brandon Stilwell

Blazing Beats has been featured in many notable magazines and you and Brandon have won many awards. Could you tell us about these publications and awards?

Blazing Beats has been featured on DIY's "I Want That" and in the following magazines:

Luxury Pools + Outdoor Living
Hearth and Home Magazine
Casual Living
Patio & Hearth Magazine
Build.com

Blazing Beats was Vesta Finalist in 2017 in the category "Art of Fire"

Brandon and Rebecca have won the following awards:

2018 Vesta Winner in category Outdoor Room Furnishings for an Electric Grill Island we developed with Coyote Outdoor Living

Rebecca Stilwell and Brandon Stilwell - 2018 Vesta Winner

Rebecca Stilwell and Brandon Stilwell - 2018 Vesta Winner

2019 Vesta Finalist in category Outdoor Room Furnishings for the One Hour Outdoor Kitchen

Blazing Beats participated in George To The Rescue: Outdoor Oasis for the Gonzalez Family (Published Oct 13, 2018)

What do you enjoy most about using Blazing Beats in your daily life?

I've been working with and developing the Blazing Beats fire pits for years, and I never get tired of it. I'm constantly hearing songs that I can't wait to play through the Blazing Beats so I can see what it looks like. It always surprises me, because I think I know how a new song is going to react, but the experience is always unique. I love getting together with friends and family, and everyone always has a list of songs they want to try. My son, Lucas, is an excellent beatboxer, so we plug the microphone in and he gets the flames to do some amazing reactions. It is such an interactive piece, and it helps friends and family interact in such a fun and unique way.

Blazing Beats Dancing Firepit

Blazing Beats Dancing Firepit

Social media platforms are new showcases for innovative brands. What do you think about the power of social media on buyers' decisions?

I think customers expect the products and brands that they buy to have an active social media presence. I think it goes beyond just learning about the product, though. I believe customers want to follow the people behind the companies and brands, not just buy the products. Customers in today's market have become extremely adept in spotting disingenuous companies and, I believe more than ever before, stay loyal to companies that remain original and authentic. Social media is an excellent way to connect with customers on a more personal level.

How can our readers follow Blazing Beats?

The best way to keep up with Blazing Beats is to follow us on our Blazing Beats Facebook page. We post videos of new songs, shows, awards, and announce new product lines on Facebook.

Where can our readers buy Blazing Beats?

Blazing Beats has dealers across the US and Canada. The best way to find a dealer is to call us at 405-771-6625 or email us at bstilwell@blazingbeats.net.

What is next for you?

Brandon and I are constantly innovating and launching new products in the outdoor living industry. We recently launched a line of outdoor kitchens, fire pits, and fireplaces that use the same concrete technology as we use for our Blazing Beats surrounds. The kitchens come in a kit and can be assembled in one hour. We won Finalist this year at the Vesta Awards for the One Hour Outdoor Kitchen in the "Outdoor Room Furnishings" category. We are also developing new burner sizes for the Blazing Beats that will allow us to implement them into the outdoor kitchens, and we are working on some dancing tiki torches as well. Readers can check out current and new products for Blazing Beats and TRU Innovative Outdoor on our website www.TruInOut.com.

Thank you Rebecca for your time.

For more information, please click here to visit the website of Blazing Beats