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The Journey Back Home

Posted on March 20, 2014 by Amazing Capes

Dear Friends, 

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.

Why?

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! 

Looking forward,

Roxanne

 

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Get Freaked!

Posted on August 31, 2013 by Amazing Capes

"Are you a superhero? Irrelevant question. Of course you're a superhero. Do you want to form a superhero alliance? ALSO IRRELEVANT. We're forming a super hero alliance to fight against the evils of bottle sweat. Now the only question that remains is how flashy will our flash be?" - Freakerteam

We were terrifically stoked to join forces with the folks at Freaker USA for a giveaway. Several pairs of this dynamic duo are now out there in the world & though the contest is over, it's never too late to combine the two into a super task force. If you haven't yet heard of Freaker USA then do yourself a life-long favor and check them out! Dynamic knit coozies forever. You can also put em' on your arms for some sweet sleeves when paired with a cape. Rox met them in Wilmington, NC a couple years back while they were pursuing a successful kickstarter campaign and was immediately wooed by their heartfelt freaky pazzazzz. We invite you to be as well.

Above- Beth Peddle in Wilmington feat. an Amazing Cape prototype & her fave Freaker

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Wrapping Up!

Posted on February 05, 2013 by Amazing Capes

For all of you who may have pre-ordered a cape with The Kickstarter Deal, we want you to know that they will be flying your way soon... if they aren't already! So keep sitting pretty, and soon enough a bundle of satin should fall from the sky straight into your lap. 

Oh and here's Rox with a truckload of capes! 


Much love from our super sonic speed headquarters here in Western North Carolina!


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Rox's Story... Kickstarted 2012!

Posted on January 25, 2013 by Amazing Capes


Kickstarter success! Photo by the lovely Katy Luquire

Ever since I heard of Kickstarter, I knew I wanted to use this crowd funding platform to help me launch a project. However, with so many ideas in my head it was hard to pick just one. Since 2009 my brainstorming went from "A multimedia essay of Great American Love Stories", to "expressionist beach painting", to "motorcycle-venture-che-guevara-how-can-I-do-that-too?" and so on... I felt like with kickstarter, you're basically granted one 'get out jail free card' -simply because you don't really want to facebook/email blast all your hardworking friends and family for money more than once... That said, I kept waiting for the idea that would stick. 

And here we are :)  "Amazing Capes: Release Your Inner Superhero" was the project that I felt, if launched, would enable me to not only begin the manufacturing process of sweet capes, but would lead me closer towards creating 1. an inspiring job for myself in this well-educated and under-employed vacuum and 2. creating a positive impact in our world. Through the help of close friends, the incredibly generous support of 853 backers, and the grace of the kickstarter gods who chose to feature me in their national newsletter 'Projects We Love', we raised a grand total of $45,267 to start spreading the joy behind Amazing Capes to the world. I am thrilled and humbled at the success of this project; I feel as if I have just gotten off a long and dusty bus ride, excited to be at the very beginning of what I believe will be a great adventure. I do hope you'll stay with me (and bear with me) for all that awaits.

Amazing friends!

For you fellow idea-makers out there, you may find of interest a blog entry I wrote for Social Citizens: An Initiative of the Case Foundation, featuring 10 pieces of advice for launching a crowd-funded project. http://socialcitizens.org/blog-post/10-crowdfunding-lessons-success  As one who is constantly inspired by the creative & humanitarian energies of others, I hope everyone takes initiative to run away with your imagination! 

So- where is Amazing Capes at now? The inaugural run of Reversible Satin Amazing Capes has now finished production and is currently experiencing their first flight! As soon as they arrive on Wednesday, January 30th, we will begin tagging, wrapping and shipping all of the pre-orders with the help of my wonderful mom and fam. We are currently in the works of transforming our kitchen into an order-fulfillment center for a grand total of 1,088 capes to ship out from this heart-centered space.  :) Afterwards, I look forward to opening our online doors and making the remaining inventory available to anyone online anywhere.

853 is the number of times I want to say 'I Love You'- with an infinity symbol tacked on the end. Y'all know who you are.

Big hugs from the newly iced over land of Asheville, NC. 

xox

Rox

PS. Thank you Katy Luquire for taking the top photo right after the campaign ended, and her mom for making the cake! Plus a shout out to my amazing friends in the 2nd pic- especially Nathan Chesky (pictured with flag) for all your help.


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A Merry Merry Stocking Stuffer

Posted on November 29, 2012 by Amazing Capes

The holidays are upon us! I love this time of year... the crisp air, the twinkling glow of lights, the smell of fresh pine and cinnamon warming the oven... And soon enough Christmas morning will be here before we know it! And though I wrote Santa a hundred letters asking if the Reversible Satin Collection of Amazing Capes could be ready before then, he said I just have to give all the elves enough time to make them... and to sew them carefully with all the love and magic they can possibly store. So for those of you who would like to pass on a cape this Christmas, please become a backer on Kickstarter to pre-order your favorites in advance! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/20958070/amazing-capes-release-your-inner-superhero Below is a printable stocking stuffer to excite the time until the real package arrives beautifully bundled up in the mail this January. (With all my toes and fingers crossed the project reaches 100% funding!) 

Happy Holidays! 

Thankfully yours,

Roxanne

 

You can also download a larger file size of the picture from our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/AmazingCapes

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Kickstarter! + Launch Party Pics

Posted on November 15, 2012 by Amazing Capes
Support the project and become a backer today! You can pre-order a cape of any size or color for $35! 


Thanks to everyone who came out to the launch party at Apothecary in Downtown Asheville! 


It was a wonderful evening! Full of great people, smiles, music, spirit animals, play doh sculptures and capes of course!



To see more pictures from the event, please join Amazing Capes on facebook! 

Lots of love, 
Roxanne


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