The health and economic crisis of COVID-19 brought a multitude of challenges for most Americans, and especially for small business owners. The drastic change in business landscape that might normally occur over a period of months, years, or even decades happened in a matter of days or weeks leaving many businesses scrambling to completely reinvent themselves in a very short period of time.
Our superhero cape and custom costume accessory business was born a decade ago right after the economic downturn of 2008, so we are no stranger to adapting and pivoting when necessary. Born out of a love for comic books, superheroes, and collegiate sports, Everfan began with a line of a collegiate licensed superhero cape and accessory sets. After mastering the maze of collegiate licensing requirements, it became clear that finding a way to print custom logos on our capes was a much better business model.
After hard work over 6 or 7 years to build our custom bulk cape sales to customers like schools, sports teams, corporate retreats, summer camps, comic cons and other large groups, it’s easy to see why we were very concerned about our business moving into the era of COVID-19.
One of our core goals as a business is to create products that engage people of all ages in uplifting play in order to inspire wonder and happiness. In early April in the middle of the nation wide lockdown, the CDC recommended the use of face masks, and we noticed that the general public was frustrated and hesitant to wear them. Scott Chastain (a.k.a. “Captain Stretch”) saw an opportunity to change people’s perception of mask-wearing, and our team at Everfan got creative.
Armed with our regular sewing and embroidery machines, we got to work designing playful face masks that people could be excited to wear. Designs include animals, mustaches, funny faces, tie-dye, seersucker, monogrammed, Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, superheroes, and more. Rather than seeing face masks as a depressing requirement, Everfan saw it as an opportunity to have a little fun and continue to tap into our most important superpowers – Creativity & Imagination.
SCOTT CHASTAIN MODELS NEW EVERFAN FACE MASKS WITH DAUGHTER PERRY (PHOTO BY KATIE CHASTAIN)
“It made me a little sad to think of my daughters having to wear drab medical-looking face masks. While safety is our top priority, I thought we could design masks that would be both safe and a little more interesting and imaginative. Just because we are living through a pandemic requiring social distancing and the use of face masks doesn’t mean we can’t keep finding ways to encourage play and imagination,” Chastain said.
Thankfully, our business already had everything needed to produce the new line of face masks – the sewing and embroidery machines, an extremely talented production staff, already existing sources for the fabrics, and a marketing/sales team to get them out into the world. Given the circumstances that accompanied a lot of businesses being shut down due to stay-at-home orders, launching a completely new product during COVID-19 might’ve been impossible if we didn’t already have all of the pieces in place to make it happen.
EVERFAN SPIDERMAN FACE MASK AND MATCHING PERSONALIZED SUPERHERO CAPE (PHOTO BY STACI VINTON)
The ability to once again creatively pivot this business has kept our sales coming in and has enabled us to weather a storm unlike anything we’ve ever seen. While custom bulk capes sales have dropped over 80%, other revenue streams have drastically increased in recent months.
We are hoping to have a strong 2020 Halloween season, which normally is our busiest time of the year. As we continue moving forward dealing with uncertainty, we will develop costumes that incorporate our new face masks, allowing people to embrace dressing up for Halloween and remaining safety-minded at the same time.
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