Amazing Capes to Host Interactive Pop Up Store During Moogfest 2014
And we CAN'T WAIT to see you there!
And we CAN'T WAIT to see you there!
Adventures are everywhere! Going to a farm in Weaverville, NC with Evander, age 5 in his medium Admiral cape, turned the afternoon into a great journey. Running and racing, he even helped feed the cows. All kinds of new experiences can find you when you've got an Amazing Cape at your back. "I'm going to help save this house!" he said. (After hearing how a tree fell on it previously.) Home of the free and land of the brave, represent.
It’s been a little over a year since the first bundles of Amazing Capes have flown to their new owners around the world. People of all ages and and from 21 countries have released their inner superhero, and also supported 10 nonprofits through purchase proceeds. In an effort to take one more step forward, I'm proud to say that Amazing Capes will soon be having all of our capes manufactured closer to my home in Asheville.
The new factory is located in Asheboro, NC, and is owned by some wonderful folks who bring years of experience to the floor as well as warmth, skill and a cohesive vision. We couldn’t be happier about our new small business partners.
It has been quite a ride getting to this point and I'd like to share my experiences thus far as Amazing Capes prepares to cross a new business frontier.
Throughout college, I heard a lot of discussion about the global shift in manufacturing overseas. However, this was a concept I equated with “corporations, oil, politics and suits.’” Not my cup of tea. After graduating in 2009, I moved to D.C., and eventually flew off to Southeast Asia. When I returned home to North Carolina, my penniless yet ever-motivated self promptly re-discovered an enduring recession. Jobs continued to bite the dust, yet now I had the idea for a tangible product I wanted to manufacture! So, of course, I started looking for people to make it.
In 2011 when I searched for manufacturers in North Carolina and surrounding areas I was blown away by the high quotes I was getting. What I heard in college was true— all of the big guys had left or shut down, taking their cost-effective machines and methods with them. According to a study through Duke University "Although we have seen a drastic decline in the textile industry, the apparel industry has fared much worse, experiencing a 70% decline in jobs and 55% of plants from 1996 to 2006." Tens of thousands of North Carolinians were out of work.
Because their employers had left. And this left me, a novice to the manufacturing field, with three options: 1. I could abandon ship; 2. I could make an incredibly expensive product that no one I knew could afford; or 3. I could follow the manufacturing trail and make Amazing Capes a reality. #3 was the winner.
I browsed online and found a factory in China that had a 500-unit minimum order quantity compared to most of the big guys with a minimum order quantity of 10,000. I reached out and a wonderful man named Aaron became my #1 contact over there; he was efficient and polite, a dream to work with.
I emailed him sketches and photos of rough prototypes, received an estimate, and wired my first payment for prototypes. Ten days later the first cape samples. They were real! The process worked. I began to understand the feasibility of manufacturing a product overseas.
In late summer of 2012, after an extensive step and repeat design process, I scraped together the last dollars I had and wired it to Hangzhou City for the 10 final samples of what would become my first collection of Reversible Satin Amazing Capes.
When the samples arrived, I attached them to fishing line took product shots. Next, I had the photos up on a website built through Shopify. It looked like a real store! All I was missing was inventory. This is where the online fund-raising platform Kickstarter came to play.
I spent a month crafting a video and set a 30-day campaign goal of raising $15,000 to meet manufacturing minimums. Watch that video here. In lieu of any financial safety net, I poured all of my energies into the project, and found the loving support of friends, family, and strangers who got behind me.
With only 3 days left, the campaign was featured in Kickstarter's national e-newsletter and "Release Your Inner Superhero" flew to 300% of its goal. I was humbled. I was ecstatic. The world wanted capes!
Shortly after, in mid-December 2012, Aaron and his team were able to start the production process for Amazing Capes in the Zhejiang Province of China. By this time, Aaron had made some changes in his working life and had gone into business for himself. He was therefore able to set a higher price on the product, one that was both more fair to all involved, yet remained far cheaper than the domestic quotes I had received.
Weeks later, in mid-February of 2013, hundreds of pounds of satin capes arrived. We loaded the boxes into the back of a pick-up and brought them in. The physicality set in, I looked at the 2,200 capes, and was floored by their existence, thinking of the group effort it took to bring them all in front of me.
For the next 2 weeks our kitchen was turned into a crazy cape tag-fold-wrap and ship center. Over 1,000 capes flew from the Post Office in Weaverville, NC, to their new owners around the globe. Another 1,000 capes were left to stock the website.
Amazing Capes was in business!
Since then, it's been a great year, one with a strong learning curve, and I'm more invested in Amazing Capes than ever before. That being said, I decided if Amazing Capes was truly going to be the company I envisioned, then it was time to loose our 8,000 mile handicap, whilst young and pliable, and turn our little wings back home.
After a year of growing success, Amazing Capes is positioned to take the next step in fulfilling our vision. Our priorities are, and always will be, high product quality, business transparency, promotion of social good, and the ability to test out new styles with minimal financial risk and a short lead-time.
Between 2011 and 2014, the whisper of companies who are shifting manufacturing back to the USA has grown more audible. This past fall I restarted my search for a practical price on domestic manufacturing.
I turned to the Internet and serendipitously found a sewing operation in Asheboro, NC— just a few hours from our home in Asheville. Perfect.
After I met with owners Gary and Lilia of Lighthouse, I was even more certain that this was the right move for Amazing Capes in 2014. The two have tons of positive energy. Their experience as seasoned industry rangers will prove invaluable to our company. For the first time, manufacturing Amazing Capes in the USA felt possible.
Here’s where we are now.
Fabric has been ordered. Lilia has prepared new patterns that reflect several design upgrades. New tags have been woven, and custom folding machinery has been installed to fit their machines. Gary has even tracked down a foot-press that will install our flying penguin snaps on the cape collars. (Yes, snaps!)
Choosing to make this transition to the home front was a chance; however, now that I'm working with people whose hands I have shaken, and whom I've hugged, I feel a greater sense of accountability and responsibility for my work, along with an urge to grow.
Amazing Capes has had its training wheels on, and I believe we've finally arrived at a place that feels right—one that will enable us to focus on our higher mission of “Saving the World Through the Power of Imagination.”
What does this mean for you, dear superhero?
New sizes and styles will develop more frequently. Each cape will be crafted by someone I can introduce you to, should you ever desire to meet their maker. In our first year we were able to give over $700 to the nonprofits each of our capes support. Next year we hope to build on these relationships and give even more. If you have a nonprofit you feel we should partner with—contact us!
As for the remaining stock in our current collection, they are truly a limited edition; they are a mark of our time, and they are full of imagination. (Not to mention, my friends, family and I heat-pressed the tags on each one of those babies.)
Thank you for your continued support, and please, stay tuned for the ride (and new designs). We just got our training wheels off!
Take the role of Saint Valentine this year... Order a cape that reflects the shining aura of your loved one and include a personal love note to your superhero in the comments area when checking out. We will inscribe your words in a handwritten valentine through February 14th! (Prefer to leave blank? Just let us know) Let love shine my darlings!
There are many super powers... the power to fly, of invisibility, of uncanny strength... and there is also the power to create life... Which definitely takes the cake!! How are we even existing right now? It's definitely an amazing combination of the magical forces of nature.
Meet super heroine Rebekah, mother to be, brilliant and beautiful, and about 8 months along! About to bring a baby boy into the universe with super dad-to-be Shawn... these two are an unstoppable pair! Little Remy Flash is sure to have a bright future.
My stocking held some extra magic this year... Beyond the customary orange and a handful of nuts that are impossible to crack there was a piece of soft black fabric. Confused, I unfolded this little bundle and soon discovered my original cape!
Sewn by my mom when I was around the 5, she used a black cotton fabric and iron-on images of the solar system and magical stars. Lost to my memory was her nifty handiwork in designing a front panel that safety pinned around my back. So novel! What I remember most is wearing this cape to pretend I was all kinds personalities... A great explorer, a mischievous magician... I could do anything! This bit of fabric was constantly used in playing dress up with my sister.
The house I grew up in is perched up on a hill, beside a great big field and a big cluster of woods; lacking any neighborhood kids to play with, I was left to the strange devices of my imagination more often than not. My sister and I would perform plays, bake mud pies with sticks and dirt, and venture over the fence to build castle forts in the middle of the trees. The elements would usually find us building new forts every few weeks, but that didn't matter much, because at the time, our imaginations were infinite. The possibilities were infinite. And at age 5, there is nothing you can't imagine.
My mom and I thought my first cape was long lost to those sneaky habits of a basement that lives beneath an old log cabin... prey to mouse traps and the necessity of costume-bin-cleanouts... Little did she or I know that I'd ever start a cape company of my own. But as it turns out, what is truly special is never lost. The small cape turned up in the back of a linen closet, just in time for my own (woefully sleepy) delight. And on Christmas morning, my 5 year old nephew Evander was also able to try it on for himself. It fit him just perfect.
Walking past the fence and through the field with him later that day, I'm always reminded of the profound abilities of our imaginations to create magical worlds like no other. In the new year ahead, lets trace back to our younger selves and embrace the power of our imagination. There is great work to be done and a brave new world to discover!
Onwards and upwards,
Happy Holidays! May they be merry and magical, joyous and bright...! We are happy to share a few pics with Evander, age 5, in his Houdini Amazing Cape. The woods near his home in Brevard, NC had a great protector, explorer and magician in their midst!
Dear You Sassy Sweet Cherub,
Here at Amazing Capes we have so much to be thankful for, but most of all we are thankful for all of you who have come to know and support us while we are still in our infancy! You're amazing. We also want to applaud the incredible super-heroic work the organizations we support are doing: It Gets Better, charity: water, The Dogwood Alliance, OCEANA, PRATHAM, IRC, Passionately Pink for the Cure, Carolina for Kibera and Arts for Life... THANK YOU!
There are a lot of truly wonderful people who have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place, and we feel so grateful to all of you.
Enjoy the cozy kitchens y'all!
PS. Capes are the new aprons
PSS. Now back to dem' cranberries... (feat. the lovely Katherine Winkel & Leo!)
Every Amazing Cape will now arrive in a hand-stamped 100% cotton muslin bag!
Ideas for re-purposing your bag following the cape arrival.
1- Safe-guarding treasures
2- Fill with snackable peanuts to go with you into the forest
3- Place all of the notes that arrive via Carrier Pigeon inside
4- A good place for dominoes, marbles, special leaves and sticks
5- Make a baby pillowcase!