button up career

Kickstart a Kickstarter - Featuring: FLXCUF

Monday, January 11, 2016 Jen Lezan

Launching a business takes a good mix of ambition, guts and elbow grease. It's not an easy thing to do. Putting yourself out there when it comes to funding is even harder. That is why we love to support local brands, people who are friends of friends and anyone out there with a dream. It takes a special kind of crazy and creative to venture into entrepreneurship and Jay Fuller, the founder of FLXCUFF has the right mix for success. 

Jay took some time to talk with Halfstack about his collection of men's shirts that are all about fashion and function along with his recent Kickstarter launch! Using a patent pending design, FLXCUF (pronounced Flex-cuff) shirts make it easy and comfortable, for any professional, to roll up their sleeves in a fashionable manner……and for them to stay up. Keep reading for the full interview!

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, you background and what led you to pursue your current career endeavors

Jay Fuller: My name is Jay Fuller and I am originally from Cincinnati, OH. I graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelors in Sports Management and a Business Minor.

I’ve always had a creative side and the desire to build something from the ground up. I spent time interning at an experimental marketing agency back home that really tapped into my outside the box thinking, and peaked my interest in entrepreneurship.

At the conclusion of my internship, I latched onto a few entrepreneurs in the restaurant and nightlife industry. I learned the ins and outs of running a business. The experience just further sparked my interest in starting something of my own. It was just a matter of when the timing was right.

I moved to Chicago in March, for no particular reason besides ambition to find what I couldn’t in Cincinnati. After a few months, I had a friend create my initial prototype. I had submitted a patent for the idea as well. After putting myself out there and sharing the idea, I got connected to Cheikh Lam, who has his own suite brand – J. Cheikh. He’s really helped with the production side of my brand and things have really begun to gain traction. I’m excited about what’s coming, including my Kickstarter launch on January 11, 2016. Can you tell us more about your brand, the idea behind it, the customer you cater to and the purpose driving it?
My brand is FLXCUF (pronounced “Flexcuff”). I went with the abbreviated name because I thought it was more unique and a way to avoid confusion with anything else. The idea behind it is simple, rolling up the sleeves to dress shirts is always a struggle – from both a looks and functionality perspective.

The sleeves never stay in place and rarely look good. What really sparked the idea was my time working behind a bar. Moving around in a fast pace environment, I was constantly stopping to fix my sleeves. I even used rubber band at times. That’s when I came up with the idea – if the shirt cuffs were flexible, the issue could be resolved in a fashionable manner. 

FLXCUF currently caters to any male (I hope to launch a women’s FLXCUF line next) who wears a dress shirt. Whether you’re a young professional behind a desk, a mixologist behind the bar, or just someone who is out to be social. A FLXCUF shirt can accommodate any scenario where a guy wishes to roll up his sleeves – and look good doing so. Where do you get your creative inspiration for your products?

I get a lot of creative inspiration from various outlets. I’m inspired by peers and former peers, what other brands do, and sometimes the random in my surroundings. I pay very close attention to detail, so there’s a lot of creativeness that I notice that maybe others don’t – and I’ll think to myself “that’s really cool, what they did there”. Which later can become an inspiration for what I choose to do.

What does the design process look like when working on your products?

The clothing design process is really cool. Our first production run started with picking out styles, patterns, and determining the best material for the detachable FLX band. After that, I created an imagination board (using Illustrator) with visuals of the product to get an idea of would work and what wouldn’t. Moving forward, I anticipate the process being similar with different colors of the FLX band being incorporated into the overall shirt design.

Are there people, mentors or figures that have made an impact in your life and career? If so, how?

I’ve had so many figures in my life that have had a tremendous amount of impact and influence on both my career and life. There’s a laundry list of people I could thank for molding me into who I have become of late. With that being said, I still seek out mentors and have a desire to grow. There’s always something you can pick up from someone that you didn’t know before.

To take that a step further, I think you’re only as successful as the people you surround yourself with and those you learn from (good or bad) – something I picked up from a past mentor.

One of the nightlife entrepreneurs I worked for actually made me read two books when working with him, in order to “think like him”. As ridiculous as that may sound. He had me read “The 48 Laws of Power” and “The Mastery” by Robert Greene. Both books actually changed my perspective and thought process on a lot of different aspects in life and in my career. 

What are your goals for your brand in the next 2-5 years? How do you hope to be making an impact or what kind of growth are you looking forward to?
My goals for the next 2-5 years is for FLXCUF to become a household name, to be sold in stores, and being viewed as the “trendsetter” amongst men’s dress shirt brands. I say that meaning, if successful, I imagine major brands will attempt to roll out their own form of a flexible shirt cuff.

That also falls in line with the impact I would to make. I want to change the game and hopefully inspire others to think outside the box and do the same. The fashion/product type industry seems to be going through an evolution, why do you think the industry is changing from it’s typical fast fashion format to something new? How do you think this evolution will affect your brand?

To be completely honest, I’m relatively new to the fashion industry and can’t comment much on the evolution. However, I think whenever there’s an opportunity to be innovative, the influencers of life take full advantage of that create the change they want to see (cliché’, I know).

I’m not exactly sure how this evolution will affect my brand. With that being said, I hope it embraces my brand because FLXCUF is something fresh and innovative – which I think falls in line with the never ending change in the fashion industry.

How is your brand remaining innovative and what does it offer that is different than what most people can already buy?

FLXCUF is innovative because there isn’t anything like it on the market. If there was, I would have saved myself the time and just purchased what was already available. But there isn’t. The FLXCUF design is so unique, it’s “functional fashion”. It’s one of those solutions to an issue that most people don’t even realize they have, until you talk about it with them.

What kind of advice would you give to someone looking to launch their own brand?

To be bold and make it happen. However, timing is everything. I sat on this for nearly two years before doing anything with it. The right people came along to really help get it started, but also gave me confidence to bring FLXCUF to life. Ultimately, when the time is right you’ll attract the right people and you, along with your brand, will grow.

Finally, where can we learn more about your brand?

Currently, I’m constructing my brand’s website. I hope to have a landing page available this month where consumers can view the FLXCUF press kit and sign up for newsletters to receive updates about the brand. Until then, you can follow my social media accounts – Facebook (FLXCUF), Instagram (@FLXCUF), and Twitter (@FLXCUF),

Finally, I am launching a month long Kickstarter on Monday, January 11th, 2016. There you can find out the story behind the brand, see how it works, and receive product at a discounted price by becoming a backer. LEARN MORE HERE

The shirts sell for $79.99 and come in black, navy, a white pattern, and a blue pattern. All shirts are featured in the images, and can be received as a reward at a 20% off retail price for all Kickstarter backers.

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