Interview with Michelle Cazella, inventor of Dapper Snappers
Michelle Cazella: Dapper Snappers "Fix Droopy Drawers in a Snap!" Dapper Snappers is a toddler belt unlike any other. You simply slip the ends through the back belt loops on any pair of pants and snap to the correct size! The Dapper Snapper makes any pair of pants with belt loops into adjustable waist pants... It’s perfect for potty training toddlers; no bunched up fabric near the button or snap and zipper so it’s easier for little fingers to take care of business.
Michelle: Being a mom has been the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. In February of 2005, my son Jacob was born and my life has forever been changed. He was a quick leaner and very determined, so it came as no surprise when he started to walk at 8 1/2 months old. Immediately, we realized that we had a problem. Jacob was too skinny to keep his pants up. That’s right…my son was a 9 month old thug. I bought some jeans for him, you know because jeans go with everything. All of them were just right in the length but way too big in the waist. I couldn’t see using a safety pin because he would likely poke himself with it. I didn’t want to try to take in the waist with a sewing machine because mine couldn’t handle denim. So I wasn’t left with many options. A belt was out of the question, what with all the diaper changes. How could I fuss with a belt when my toddler wouldn’t sit still for 2 seconds?
My husband noticed my frustration and asked, “If you were to do it differently, what would you do?” I began to describe to him what my needs for the perfect solution would entail. Within an hour I had created a prototype of the Dapper Snapper.
Michelle: I did a year and a half of research which included materials sourcing, marketing studies, and talking to complete strangers about their child's droopy pants. I was surprised to learn that the problem I was having was so prevalent. And the other big surprise was watching moms hit their heads in the "I shoulda had a V8" style and say "Why didn't I think of that? That's GENIUS!!" Those comments just spurred me on.
Michelle: I worked out of my garage and started using up more and more space. I had roped my husband into helping out before work, at lunchtime, and after we got the kids to bed. Then I had to start hiring help. When we moved from Oregon to Florida, we started leasing warehouse space. In just the past year we've gone from a 1,000 square foot warehouse, to 2,000 square feed plus an office in a separate building and I have an assistant and 7 other employees. We went from selling Dapper Snappers to USA and Canadian retailers to selling in 14 countries, including Korea and Hong Kong. It's been a crazy ride but I love it.
Michelle: I am by no means a fashionista, and yet I created an accessory that has become a must-have. Learning the ebbs, flows, and trends of the children's accessories market has been pretty challenging. My business has definitely taught me to see my product through other’s eyes, to delegate what I can’t do or don’t have time for, and to be patient. Not everything is as it seems. But the best part has been hearing all the comments from parents that are thrilled their child doesn't have their pants on the ground anymore.
Michelle: We are growing every day! We’ve already expanded our Dapper Snappers line to include Dapper Snappers for moms, mitten clips, add-on clips (for pants/skirts without belt loops), and our very own patterns. Our most recent addition to our line is Big Kids belts. They are a real hit! We are always looking for ways to meet needs in the children’s market. There are a couple of ideas we are currently working on that we hope to roll out in time for fall.
Michelle: 1. Research, research, research. And when your done with that? Research some more. Become the expert in your field.
2. Get involved with an entrepreneur support group. You’ll need like minds to bounce ideas off and commiserate with.
3. Become social media savvy so you don’t have to pay someone else to do it for you. You know you and your product better than anyone else could.
4. Know your strengths, delegate your weaknesses.
5. Get some good rest. It’s good for your brain and for everyone else around you.
Michelle: Dapper Snappers are unique in that they were the first half-belt on the market and they provide a comfortable fit that doesn’t bother little ones. Kids completely forget that they are wearing them! They don’t get in the way of diaper changes or potty training so Dapper Snappers help moms too. Dapper Snappers are made in the USA, right here in our Port Orange, Florida manufacturing facility!
Michelle: I plan out my days a week at a time and stick to my schedule as best I can. If the work day is over, I don’t bring it home with me. Work will be there tomorrow.