Summer is knocking at the door- it’s time to grab your swimwear and flip-flops and hit the beach. However most of the flip-flops you find in the market are made with synthetic chemicals which are really harmful for your skin. Individuals with sensitive skin tend to get those nasty flip-flop rashes which are so hard to get rid of. Moreover ordinary rubber flip-flops aren’t so comfortable and it’s rather difficult to walk a long stretch them. They also wear out easily and the rubber stem between the toes peels the skin after a long walk.
Today we will introduce you to two young entrepreneurs who have come up with the perfect pair of flip-flops made out of completely organic ingredients. The rubber which goes into the making of these flip-flops have been directly harvested from the sap of rubber trees. In an attempt to find the perfect flip-flop they travelled to the rubber plantations in the interiors of India and Sri Lanka. It was here that they discovered the miseries of the rubber plantation workers who survive on meagre wages and live in truly despicable conditions. This is why they set out in search of rubber which has been harvested on fair terms with the workers and finally became a member of Fair Rubber Association where a large part of the profit is directly received by the rubber tappers. Heather the co-founder of Olli natural flip-flops explains, “my goal is to provide a choice to consumers where there wasn't one before. I'm committed to using natural materials in my products to lessen the impact on both workers and consumers".
The one thing which draws a line between the burglars and your house are those locks on your gate and front door. It goes without saying that you need to keep your keys handy at all times which is why you need a proper keychain which would hold all your keys together. These days nobody likes the bulky conventional key chains which keep jangling in our wallets or pockets as we move. Burc F Aksoy and his team of collaborators have come up with an innovative answer to all our key chain requirements.
“We have worked hard on our product and have prepared our campaign very carefully,” says Burc.
What time is it? If you just glanced at your phone or corner of the computer screen then perhaps it is time to get a watch. Personally a watch is something that I have to have on me at all times. It is not just about fashion but functionality.
For those of us who already have watches we understand that certain social settings require different time pieces. And can one have too many watches? Perhaps so, but it is always worth looking at the latest models.
One such model comes from two entrepreneurs in Canada who have teamed together to form a new brand of watch. Quentin Trudeau is the marketing guru bringing sales and marketing experience from a background with Swiss Watches and Vikentiy Gryaznov is the designer—a well-known watchmaker in Russian. They have come Kickstarter to launch their watchmaking venture.
“I always wanted to bring luxury watches to a more understandable and affordable level,” says Trudeau.
Many of the promising start-ups of today have really fantastic origin stories to share. The latest New York fashion brand, The Forever O.G. Pants by Wonderous, also has a fantastic personal tale to offer. In 2013, while Jeff Chang was working as a restaurant server at a cheap wage, he faced regular problems with buying good quality and durable fashion pants. “I tried to save money by buying cheap, fast fashion pants from H&M and Zara, only to have those pants break apart shortly thereafter. I even went the route of buying expensive pairs of pants, but I wasn’t able to wear them for longer than a couple months since I was losing weight at the time”, says Jeff.
He was deeply unsatisfied with the limited options of cheap clothing products available in the American market and the low quality of these products. In 2014, while Jeff was working at Maker’s Row in Dumbo, Brooklyn, he frequently came across many American manufacturers and soon realized a reoccurring theme of frustration among them that had been affecting the American manufacturing industry as a whole—“the average consumer doesn’t value quality anymore”. Jeff realized he was not the only one who was disappointed with the cheap, “marked-up clothing from independent retailers with rigid customer service policies”.
The fashion gurus unequivocally admit that there has been an ever growing demand for designer footwear and stylish dress shoes in recent years. A new luxury shoe brand – JLT Wear – has recently arrived on the scene with a promise to make a big difference. Originally, JLT was a family-run ship construction business in North East England that had quite a reputation for excellent craftsmanship, durability of its products and trustworthiness. With their successful run of 150 years they are now trying their hands in the shoemaking business. When Andre Li founded JLT Wear in 2016, he wanted to revive that old reputation of his family business and produce affordable high quality men’s shoes and boots ‘with a touch of world class’. It’s easy to find shoes you love but can’t afford likewise it’s easy to find shoes you can afford, but don’t love. From this frustration was born JLT Wear. JLT Wear promises to pay passionate attention to all aspects of workmanship which had once made the family shipbuilding business quite renowned.
There was a time in history when the textile mills of England clothed almost the whole world! However, that era is long gone and in recent years textile manufacturing in UK has taken the backseat. Drake & Hutch’s British-designed, British-made socks are an attempt to revive the heyday of textile production in UK. While working as a buyer of high street brands, Peter McGuiness, the owner of Drake & Hutch, was “always disappointed at the amount of clothing that was made in the UK, especially by brands that promoted themselves as being British”. Peter wanted to find a remedy to this bleak situation in the home industry. “I wanted to create a label that brought textile production back to the UK and supported British jobs”, says Peter.
Thus the Drake & Hutch was born. Based in Lancashire at the North-West England, this young business has partnered with the oldest sock mills of UK to supply good quality, comfortable and stylish British-made socks. They strive to bring a resurgence of skilled, good quality textile production in UK that has been long lost. To this end, they have collaborated with the best cotton growers, millers and socks-makers.
We say that necessity is the mother of all inventions. Nothing can be truer about the birth of SpeX Eyewear which was born out of a little personal accident. When the only prescription eyewear of Chris Nieves, one of the manufacturers, inadvertently fell to the ground and instantly broke, a bright idea flashed before his mind – why couldn’t he just make a pair of durable yet stylish glasses on his own with a 3D printer?
While talking to friends and family Chris realized that eyewear issues and problems are quite common. They are quite expensive to start with and not customizable at all. On the top of this the usual prescription glasses that we buy in the market are easy to break; especially the hinges split with the slightest undue exertion on them or any accidental impact. From this stemmed the brilliant idea of a crowdfunded start-up that’ll manufacture affordable, fashionable, customizable and durable eyewear for the community – the SpeX Eyewear! For the actual manufacturing of this unique product Chris Nieves and his talented team of experts are in collaboration with other small but equally creative businesses in the USA. “Basically since the techniques are not known in the USA we are partnering with only small businesses that actually give back to their communities to bring the eyewear to life”, explains Chris. “We are making the technology and expanding it to bring it to our backers. We have had to use 3D printing technologies, the latest in 3D designing software, and the most advanced testing software, in order to make our dreams a reality.”
One of the latest crazes, that subsequently is becoming more of a go-to norm for manufacturing entrepreneurs, is 3D printing. Just a few short years ago this technology didn’t exist but is now creating an explosion of prototyping and beta testing while dramatically reducing product lead time. While most of us are still grappling with these tools other entrepreneurs are on to the latest and greatest—in this case 3D knitting.
In 2014 in Los Angeles, California co-founders Xiaoxi Shi and Jackie Hung formed a lifestyle brand utilizing 3D knitting. Shi is a successful product designer with plenty of awards and accolades to prove it. Hung is the entrepreneur who likewise has a solid track record in successfully launching startups, namely in the consumer products arena.
Together Shi and Hung have come to Kickstarter for the necessary capital from enthusiastic backers to make the venture real—like 3D knitted real. “We need a minimum volume to kick off production and ensure that the machine has its best efficiency,” says PR spokeswoman Amanda Bugarin. And with one week remaining in the campaign and over 150% of needed funds raised the founders have continued their streak of success.
Crowdfunding is such a beautiful thing. People from all over the planet from different backgrounds with varying perspectives and a wealth of ideas and creativity come together to produce something beautiful. Okay, maybe that is a bit idealistic but it doesn’t diminish the fact that crowdfunding is changing the way we create and do business. Today’s case in point of channeling creativity into something beautiful comes from Hong Kong. A team of eight, headed by co-founders Chanasinj Sachdev and Neill Myers have been working on a novel concept since late 2014 and are now introducing it to Indiegogo backers to bring it to fruition. Oh, and I almost forget to mention a key team member, Bubby the office cat!
For the outdoor buff a time piece should be practical and functional under extreme circumstances—never holding back its owner. Of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Ryan McDonnell couldn’t agree more. As a long-time enthusiast of fashion and multi-purpose products McDonnell has taken to Kickstarter to bring to light an idea of his own.
Long live style and authentic Italian craftsmanship. If you are at all a fan of handbags, purses or carry-ons then you will greatly appreciate what this Kickstarter has to offer. With the tag line “unconventional luxury at a fair price” Paolo Fabozzi, the campaign owner, wishes to disrupt the brick-and-mortar retail price markups by delivering made-to-order handcrafted leather bags.
“[Our] mission is to innovate while still respecting and enhancing Italian tradition,” says Fabozzi.
The four cofounders of the Naples, Italy-based operation are passionate about affordable, quality luxury. Paolo is the acting Chief Executive Officer with 10 years’ experience in investment banking and consulting. Marica, the Chief Brand Officer, emerges from a tax law background. Sergio, with a specialized career in international organizations, is the Chief Marketing Officer. And last but not least the Chief Creative Officer role falls to Andrea, an entrepreneur several times over.
George Powell of London is a mountain biking enthusiast who also elects to commute to work via bicycle. Apart from the exercise, which he finds enjoyable, these commutes can prove troublesome for any number of reasons. However, “troublesome”, is just what got this entrepreneur into action.
“I wanted to resolve the daily travel issues I faced,” said Powell. “The C-Series is the result of the research put into looking at the key issues we all face when commuting to work, whether it be by bike or other means”.
Powell located and nurtured a relationship with a manufacturer to come up with a prototype to his idea. It has been 12 months in the making and it is now go time. With an active campaign on Kickstarter Powell and team are anxiously awaiting the backers to bring these prototypes into manufactured realities.
You’re engaged and in the zone—actually crossing time zones. You’re keeping your boss updated and your clients satisfied. You’re mobile devices are humming, when all of a sudden you get that all too familiar notification - running low on battery.
The above situation is not unique, but common to many, including David Giacomini. But, rather than seek out the nearest kiosk for a quick charge, Giacomini created a company dedicated to staying charged. Giacomini is so committed to the new venture, VoltNow, that he stepped down from his CEO role of the Florida-based retail chain Levenger earlier this year to fully devote himself to its success.
Opportunities for outdoor exploration are everywhere in the northwest of the United States. Northern California for example, has the refreshing waters of the Pacific Ocean, the majestic vistas of Yosemite National Park, and the craggy peaks of the Cascades.
Hailing from the area—San Francisco to be exact—Bomber & Company has set out to “create a company that represents all the stuff we would day dream about while at work: exploration, excitement, and memories”, says the company’s PR spokeswoman Sarah Buckley.
After several successful Kickstarter product launches, Bomber & Company is at it again, this time on Indiegogo. The self-described “minimalist designers, explorers, and adventurers” will surely deliver yet again.
It is a pretty cool moment when an entrepreneur takes his or her idea to crowdfunding and has it validated by thousands of backers. It is an added benefit when the product’s quality exceeds that of the long-standing commercial giants. Today, I want to introduce you to such a product.
Will Simon and his brother Vince, of Washington, DC are self-described lifelong athletes. They use all the gear from household brand names, such as Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour. The brothers realize that the sports industry is growing and growing fast. This is especially so for the niche of sports apparel. Like the true entrepreneurs that they are, they know that they can do better than what the market offers in this space.
Will and Vince have been working on this project for over a year. Will’s former associations at the US Chamber of Commerce have proven invaluable, as he has leveraged them substantially to bring to fruition this venture.
Today I am picking up an order I placed yesterday for five custom dress shirts and two slacks. I am in Hoi An, Vietnam, a UNESCO World Heritage site, but more commonly known for its tailoring, with several hundreds of shops concentrating in either fabrics, shoes, or leather goods. Also on my list is a good pair of jeans and I think I have found someone who can make them.
Colin Keeley of Chicago, Illinois has a background in software product management and design. He also moonlights in the apparel business using Kickstarter to create the perfect pair of jeans. Keeley explained, “the project began when I grew tired of changing out of my uncomfortable jeans and into sweatpants every day. I tried to find a more comfortable pair of jeans that I could wear all day, but I could never find anything I liked”.
Thorough his dissatisfaction and various pursuits, Keeley realized that the utility of the jean has not changed all that much (originally outfitting miners to better carry rocks--per the campaign’s Kickstarter page). So, Keeley has created his own brand of jean.
After 12 months of designing and prototyping Geneva -- Premium Active Denim For Modern Life was born.
“The radical new material combines the incredible softness, comfort and freedom of movement of activewear with a timeless look. We then paired the performance denim with our curved waistband which conforms to the natural shape of your waist for the perfect fit.”
Geneva has a patented four-way stretch that allows for a better cut of jean (slimmer) without forgoing the importance of movement—these jeans don’t restrict you and are comfortable. Also as quoted above, the waistband has a curve that more naturally conforms to your waist. Think of your favorite leather belt that you have had for years. When you suspend it from one end there is a pretty heavy curve in it and that is the curve that we are talking about.
Geneva jeans are made in a family-owned Los Angeles factory, and Kickstarter backers can enjoy a 50% wholesale discount.
Sometimes, all it takes is a bright pair of clothes to make your day. I am beginning to see more flare with people’s attire, and socks seem to be the gateway clothing. Business professionals sneaking in a colorful pair of socks or hipsters flooding their pants to show off theirs.
Two entrepreneurs from the UK, Natalie Cope and James Foster, have created Bryt Clothing (pronounced ‘bright’) and are finishing up with a successfully funded crowdfunding project on Kickstarter.
Concerning this endeavor, Cope stated that she wants to create “a clothing company that only produced bright colorful clothes. The one place you can go and guarantee the best, brightest and most fun clothes”.
There are a lot of options out there to protect and house your laptop. Some focus on style, while others on protection. For ex-investment banker, Terry Lin, the market offerings were not hitting the mark. Clients expected buttoned-up professionalism and that included the moment when he pulled out the laptop to review the numbers.
“Being sharp, neat, and presentable was key when it came to clients. I found that most sleeves on the market were plain and boring. For someone that needed a more stylish option, there just weren't many out there”, says Lin.
Needless to say, Lin set out to concept and produce his own. The rest, as they say, is history.
As I travel Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia, it has become clear to me that I need a better bag—a tweener, if you will—something in between backpack and duffel. This problem is surely not limited to traveling expats. In actuality it is more pronounced domestically. The daily grind amongst the gym, office, and 30,000 feet usually require a separate bag.
As it is in other cases, the solution can only come after much labor with current product offering fails. No exception to this, entrepreneur Peter Kao has decided to fix the problem of multiple bags, for multiple occasions, and he is calling this fix SUB (sports utility bag).
Referring to the inspiration for the bag, Kao shared, “I go to the gym often and see many people carrying gym bags…I started to wonder if the design could fulfill the need of a modern/active lifestyle. I found that people who go to the gym early in the morning often go straight to work. And people who go to the gym in the afternoon often just came back from work or school…Having this in mind, I wanted to design a bag that they could carry to gym and work, a bag that could carry their, laptop, shoes, clothes, water bottle and all their daily essentials.”
It’s getting warm out and the sun is more brazen, as the days lengthen into summer. It’s also time to ask yourself this question, "Are you satisfied with the style and performance of your sunglasses?’" Whatever the answer, you will probably want to continue reading today’s segment.
Enter William Painter. This San Diego based sunglasses company, co-founded by four cool bros, Zach Luczynski, Patrick Eckstein, Matt DeCelles and Steven Dempsey, is at it again with Kickstarter. This is the third Kickstarter campaign William Painter has conducted for what will be its third product. The past two were greatly successful bringing to fruition The Hook and The Lume, with the latter smashing its $3,000 goal raising 1,472%.