DISPATCH ILLUSTRATION, COMPLETELYROYAL.COM
The perfect fit
Entrepreneur says crowdfunding website was the best way for him to help his belt business grow
By Kurt Ludlow • WBNS-10TV
If Zack Chapple’s belt had any holes in it, he’d probably loosen it a notch or two. • Chapple is breathing a lot easier now that his fledgling men’s fashion business — he markets perforation-free belts — has secured a much-needed capital infusion through “crowdfunding,” seemingly the new best friend of entrepreneurs everywhere. • The 26-year-old Marysville resident said the money increases the likelihood that, someday, his belts will be holding up pants all over the world. • “They hold up quite a few pants already,” he quipped. • Chapple, a software engineer by training, has been selling belts online for about a year, his product line inspired by a belt he ran across during a 2010 visit to his wife’s native country , China. “My wife and I were actually hiking around her hometown, and my belt broke,” he recalled. “I ended up buying a new belt while I was there, and it was something we’d never seen before.”
Although it lacked holes, the belt could be easily adjusted in increments far tinier than a standard belt allows.
Chapple said it was a godsend for someone like him — “kind of a bigger guy” with an ever-fluctuating waistline. (“I’m anywhere from one to three holes different, depending on what week it is or how ‘healthy’ of a meal I’ve just eaten.”)
Much to his wife’s chagrin, Chapple spent the next year showing his new belt to friends, relatives, even strangers.
“We would be standing in line at a food court or getting coffee somewhere, and she would turn around and see me taking off my belt again,” he said. “Everyone I showed this belt to thought it was awesome, and, in that year, I did not meet a single person that had seen a belt like that before.”
Chapple saw something else: a business opportunity. He had one of his wife’s former classmates buy 60 belts and ship them to Ohio, where he resold them at a profit. Eventually, he found a manufacturer closer to home, and Completely Royal was born.
The company’s standard belt features closely spaced vertical ridges, or ribs, instead of traditional holes. The “buckle” contains an angled lever — known formally as a pawl — that, until released, allows the belt to travel in just one direction.
“When you feed it into the buckle, kind of like a zip-tie, it ratchets,” Chapple said, his demonstration producing a rapid-fire “click-click-click” more often associated with a spring-loaded socket wrench.
- Chapple’s website, completelyroyal.com , offers leather belt straps in several colors and textures. The corresponding metal buckles come in an even-wider variety of designs and finishes.
Chapple’s next big thing: a ratcheting belt buckle that’s almost indistinguishable from its traditional counterpart — that is, a metal frame with an “empty middle” that showcases, rather than obscures, the underlying leather.
“We found some good examples and had a couple of prototypes,” he said. “We went to the manufacturer and said, ‘This is what we want.’ And they said, ‘Well, if you want to do that, there’s going to be a die cost; manufacturing is expensive.’
“So that’s why we decided we’d go with crowdfunding.”
STEVE MAGUIRE WBNS-10TV Zack Chapple, right, says the idea for his belt without holes came from one he bought in China. A 30-day campaign on crowdfunding website Kickstarter helped him raise $46,571.
In the past few years, more than 450 crowdfunding platforms, or websites, have sprung up to help artists, designers and cash-hungry entrepreneurs amass grass-roots financial support.
The global management consultant McKinsey & Co. reports that such sites are “revolutionizing everything from philanthropy to micro-lending by allowing many small donors or lenders to pool their resources online to support a common goal.”
Chapple settled on Kickstarter, which, since its launch in 2009, has helped direct $830 million to more than 50,000 ventures, including hundreds of startups such as Completely Royal.
One thing that sets Kickstarter apart in the increasingly crowded crowdfunding industry is its all-or-nothing approach: If a project doesn’t reach its goal in the allotted time, the person or organization seeking financial support goes away empty-handed.
Chapple’s Kickstarter appeal went live on Sept. 17. His goal: to raise $17,500 within 30 days.
The “rewards” awaiting those who joined the “Completely Royal family” ranged from a leather-wrapped shoehorn (available to backers pledging $10) to a “limited-edition gift set” featuring three belts (reserved for those willing to put up at least $250).
“We see timing being the biggest possible issue for us,” Chapple wrote in his online pitch. “Since we are so close to the holiday season, we are a little at risk if we do not hit our goal until the very end of this 30-day Kickstarter.”
Chapple needn’t have worried: He reached his goal in 14 days, and, by the time the specified “funding period” expired on Thursday, 625 backers had pledged $46,571 — more than 2 1/2 times the amount he was seeking. (Kick-starter keeps 5percent.)
- “The crowdfunding platform is really advantageous, because you’re able to get your idea out to the masses really quick,” he said.
Now, thanks to his successful foray into crowdfunding, Chapple can shift his focus to another make-or-break deadline: Christmas is 67 shopping days away. email@example.com
I know it may seem I don’t have a clue what’s going on when I keep posting all these ideas about either getting an education, or variously, pointing up great ideas which keep presenting themselves to me on how some people are making things happen in their lives. And while it is NOT related to the health and healing thrust of this blog-site, I would suggest that it has much in common in as much as one must be open and willing to think or see in perhaps a new or different way. Sometimes, we can be so accustomed to our life scenario that we cannot possibly conceive of finding release from it. One could say — we are indeed, attached to our pain or misery or woe whether its illness or poverty. “Stuff” can get anyone down.
We must be open to the possibilities, because, stuff changes. We change, grow and can expand. Every cell in our body is always in a state of change. If cells change – what does that suggest about illness? And if circumstances are changing and always will (always have) — what does that say about permanence? And where does it all start, or happen , or come about? Only in our thinking! No where else. What the mind accepts — the body reacts to (will follow). So as one can imagine, it pays to choose the happier thoughts or prospects that we find pleasure in. Go for what makes you happy Be open to the goal and see that and worry less about how you get there. . . . trust that life is good and is meant to be joyful and that you are worthy already and fully as entitled as anyone in the world to ‘chase your dreams’. See them, nourish them and be open to life’s surprises. . . . this is the attitude of youth before it has been so disillusioned, sad and distrustful, which crushes hope and diminishes ones very life force. Be grateful for the stirring of desire for this is what moves you and animates one’s energies.
Go for what you want – – it’s a good thing, Jan)