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MADE Winners - Functional Product Category

By Staff Reports, posted Feb 24, 2017

BACKSLIDER GEAR

backslidergear.com

Year founded: 2013 | Number of employees: 2

Top official: Alan Swart, “master backslider”

Company description: Backslider Gear makes sailcloth wallets to accommodate all world currencies. Its wallets are “super-thin, minimalist wallets with RFID-blocking technology built in.” The company describes them as more than 75 percent thinner than traditional leather wallets and made of waterproof Kevlar material.

Company growth: Swart sells the wallets through its website, with orders from U.S. customers as well as internationally with buyers from China to Australia to Switzerland who want to go on a “wallet diet” and ditch their bulky ones. “I think it’s got a lot of potential. It’s mostly a hobby right now, but I ship them all over the world.”

Target market: “All men, women, girls and boys – especially if they have a wallet problem. Most folks need to go on a wallet diet. Our wallet insists on it.”

How did you originally come up with the concept for your product? “I wanted a better thin wallet. I was tired of the sore backside of sitting on my thick wallet. I searched for a lot of materials, and finally I came across the Kevlar sailcloth, which I thought would be durable, thin and attractive.”

What are your future goals for the product? To “find more vendors who want to carry our quality, handmade, USA-made product.”

 
DEATH BY DESIGN

deathbydesign.com

Year founded: 2016 | Number of employees: 4

Top official: Kimberly C. Paul, CEO

Company description: “Death by Design is an educational service that encourages people to talk about advance care planning and teaches individuals and their families to begin the conversation.”

Company growth: “After launching the podcast on Jan. 12: (there have been) over 350 downloads, over 1,000 likes on Facebook and over 100 shares on social media.”

How has your product helped impact the region’s economic development? “We’ve employed over five individuals and have worked with over six local agencies to launch Death by Design.”

How did you originally come up with the concept for your product? “The podcast audience, nationally, have increased to 36 percent. A podcast about end of life, provides a dated health care industry with an innovative way to communicate choices, tips and resources for end of life planning. We’ve been working on this podcast since April 2016.”

What are your future goals for the product? “The goals for Death by Design are to increase listeners to over 100,000 and to produce several tools (book and Legacy guide) for our local community as well as a national audience. Our goal is to normalize the death and dying conversation, increase advance care planning, as well as impact how and where individuals face end of life.”
 

SUNSNAPZ

sunsnapz.com

Year founded: 2012 | Number of employees: 2

Top official: Julia Jacobsen, founder and CEO

Company description: Sunsnapz manufactures UPF50+ sun-protective baby blankets and accessories. “Our patented design creates a clever must-have baby item for the active family.”

Target market: “Parents, grandparents, extended friends and family of newborn to toddler-aged children that appreciate a smart, high-quality baby product with health-related benefits. Our customers love the baby blanket that is multi-functional to simplify their active lifestyle with little ones.”

Company growth: “We have increased sales by more than 100 percent in each of the three full years since inception in 2012.”

How has your product helped impact the region’s economic development? “We have worked exclusively with a manufacturer that is headquartered in Wilmington, and all our products are made in North Carolina. As a small, family-owned business, we have made it part of our mission to give back through contributions to local events and charitable organizations like AIM at Melanoma.”

How did you originally come up with the concept for your product? “As new parents, we loved products that created a healthy environment for our child. We searched for a cover to shelter our little one from wind and sun, act as a nursing cover, and a soft swaddle blanket at the same time. Without one on the market, Sunsnapz was born.”

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