NORTH HAMPTON — When Yvonne and Paul Marston came up with their idea for a new unique fashion accessory, they had no idea the world they were getting into.
From finding a manufacturer, to crowd-sourcing funding, navigating a start-up business has been almost a full time job for the stay-at-home mom and her husband, who runs the local trucking company Abenaqui Trucking.
Before having children, Yvonne Marston said she worked in pharmaceutical sales, and in fashion, but not in fashion design or sales.
But several years ago, she came up with the idea to dress up her drabby old jackets by adding colorful stretch fabric over the buttons.
Yvonne Marston said she got the idea after looking through an InStyle magazine and seeing a stretch covering to dress up lampshades.
“I like the idea of a quick, easy, affordable transformation,” Yvonne Marston said. “I was looking at the tired old coats in my closet and it dawned on me that what I needed was stretch coverings for my buttons.”
So Martson started looking in shops and online, and realized there was nothing like it.
She used a hair band and some basic stitching to make a prototype, and started looking for a manufacturer.
“This idea was particularly challenging because it is not a twist on an existing idea, it’s new,” Paul Marston said.
But the couple was finally able to find one in Pakistan through a friend, and “‘Kno-BŁ ButtonWrapz” were born.
So far, they have a “provisional patent pending” filed with the United States Patent Office, both domestic and international, so that if someone else comes along and tries to say it was their idea, the Marstons have the paperwork on file to prove it is theirs.
They said it is also an opportunity to test their product in the market before obtaining a full patent.
The Marstons said their product is about “85 percent” of the way to perfection, and they are seeking to garner additional funding through “Kickstarter” a crowd sourcing website for innovative ideas that Yvonne Marston said has been “it‘s own crazy journey,” to take it the rest of the way.
So far, they have raised almost $4,000 towards their goal of $8,000, but unless they reach that goal, they get none of the funding.
Yvonne Marston said they thought Kickstarter would be a great way to source money and increase the visibility of the product, but they said figuring out how to become a staff pick or stay popular on the website has been no easy feat.
“Two weeks into the project we were 38 percent funded but were low in visibility,” Yvonne Marston said.
They have until August 3 to reach their goal.
The couple said they would like to move manufacturing to their native state of New Hampshire and Paul Marston has designed a process to better mass manufacture Kn-BŁ products. They are hoping the initial funding and production run will allow them to do that.
For more information about Kn-BŁ, visit their Kickstarter page at http://kck.st/LzhBXQ or their website at www.knobu.com.
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Gretyl Macalaster may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.