Chapter 8: Transition to Hats

Focusing the Product Offering After a Move To Dallas

So, the shirts were simply to give away to people. I never intended to sell them, but just wanted to test what people thought. It was really exciting to be wearing a shirt out in NYC or even better, in Dallas or another city, and have people come up to me to say they were from that neighborhood!

Unfortunately though, NxTSTOP once again went into hibernation for lack of funds. After business school, I had moved down to Dallas to pursue another startup idea for which we had gotten a bit of government funding, but it was barely enough to survive. I spent the next 6 months (until fall of 2015) focused on that idea, and it wasn’t until coming home for the holidays in December that the next very important pivot took place for hats.

City Codes and the First Embroidery Partner

In listening to friends who really liked the “travel flip board” design, it started to become clear that the airport codes could be a really good focus. To make them “pop” as much as possible hats would be a great product to try. Also, I quickly learned that hats were a good way to reduce the complexity of the product (one size vs. multiple sizes of shirts) and do several cities at once with relatively low effort (simply switching the letters rather than sourcing and editing photos).

JFK Snapback (Black) on Yupoong Blank
JFK Snapback (Heather Grey) on Yupoong Blank

I got connected with North Shore Embroidery in Hawaii through Colin’s wife Suzannah, and we started playing with JFK samples. I experimented with flat and 3D embroidery combinations until settling on 3D letters, flat borders. We also put the original logo on the front left panel such that the plane at the end of NxTSTOP could be visible from the front. At the time I had no idea about hat types. I wore hats sometimes, but really had no idea about the different cuts or fits. Believe me, I would be a fast learner! Suzannah helped guide me towards the Yupoong snapbacks that were wool/cotton blend. The first run was done with black hats using white embroidery and heather grey using white embroidery for the lettering and black embroidery for the borders.