We love seeing American Made blossom, and it’s all thanks to the strength of relationships between factories and brands. This week we sat down with Caroline Fielding to hear how Maker’s Row gave her the resources and confidence she needed for her business, Cup Muff.
Source of Inspiration
Cup Muff is a Tampa-based company that offers one-of-a-kind product designed to fit around beverages and keep hands warm. It is made of a fabric sleeve that slides around a coffee cup, beer bottle, water bottle, or wine glass, and it has an attached fleece-lined muff to place your hands into. This keeps them toasty warm.
The inspiration for the product came in 2014 when founder, Caroline Fielding, was holding her coffee cup one frigid morning. She held the coffee cup in one hand while the second hand rested in her coat pocket. She kept switching hands and thinking there must be a better way to keep her fingers and hands warm while still being able to firmly hold the cup. She sought to solve this problem.
Getting Started the Right Way
At first, Caroline tried to find a manufacturer on her own; however, that did not go over so well. She reasoned “It was mainly because I did not understand the terminology used in the industry, and I was a start-up who needed small batch manufacturers. I had no real progress other than an idea in my head and a homemade prototype.” It wasn’t until 4 months in, that a Google search for “American made manufacturers” brought her to the Maker’s Row website. She finally felt she had access to the networks and information she needed to get her idea off the ground.
Working with Stitch Method
After reviewing a list of factories, Caroline decided to work with Stitch Method to launch her Cuff Muff products. Caroline described the experience as “all-inclusive for a startup with no experience. I used Stitch Method as my consultant to assist in creating a tech pack, fabric sourcing, care labels, manufacturing, cut & sew and for the overall process of bringing my idea to a real-life product ready to sell.”
Before Stitch Method, Caroline was told her company was “not far enough in the process” and no one wanted to work with her. She quickly realized that as “a start-up company, there was a lot I didn’t know. Choosing the right factory was key in keeping my costs down during the startup period, and avoiding major mistakes that could have defeated my company before it even got started.” What was important through this learning experience of creating her first product was a partner that would be responsive. Stitch Method was extremely responsive, “I highly recommend Stitch Method. They were wonderful and I would absolutely work with them again, and refer anyone who needed assistance, like I did, to utilize their services.”
Caroline shared with us a few projects she is hoping to launch in the near future. Currently, she is working on her online presence, “my website is in the process of getting reconfigured.” As she is selling down her current stock, she is working on new products for her company. “I want to launch new products with new designs and new fabrics.” When asked if she will work with Stitch Method again, she says that the team laid such a great foundation for her that she feels confident to do all her sourcing on her own. “If necessary, I will definitely use them as consultants, but I am excited about going back on the Maker’s Row platform to see what other factories I can work with.”
Beyond access to factories, Caroline enjoys the daily information that empowers her as an entrepreneur, “I read the blogs every day and love the Made in America concept. Maker’s Row is a huge resource for entrepreneurs and a much-needed resource at that!”
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For more on Cup Muff check out their products here!
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