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Stretchy Shapes Interview: Behind The Stretchies

Here is another in my series of interviews with the men and women behind the bandz companies. Learn how Stretchy Shapes comes up with their new designs and their process for making their bands.

Animal Bracelets Blog: What is your name and the name of your bandz company?
Stretchy Shapes: April Mraz, Stretchy Shapes

Animal Bracelets Blog: What do you do at your bandz company?
Stretchy Shapes: A little of everything! My title is officially "Design Diva", so I mostly handle brand management, design, production, and product development though.

Animal Bracelets Blog: What got you into the bandz making business?
Stretchy Shapes: I am based in Birmingham, Alabama, and my background is in design and advertising, having owned my own ad shop, Open Creative Group, since 2002. Last fall, I saw the animal bracelet craze getting started here in Birmingham, and a partner and I opened the nation's first kiosk location (The Band Wagon-Riverchase Galleria) entirely dedicated to animal bracelets. Then I opened the nation's first true STORE (The Band Wagon-The Summit) after the success of the Galleria location with another partner. After buying and selling just about every band out there, I was really disappointed with a few things- namely, customer service and product design- from the companies then making bands. In an effort to get the inventory I needed to stock our two stores for the holidays, I created Stretchy Shapes- Little Diva, Nature Trail, and Wild West designs- which sold out in less than 3 weeks at the 2 Band Wagon locations. When my partners and I closed down the Band Wagon locations after the holidays, we had a RUSH of requests for Stretchy Shapes. This was the birth of Stretchy Shapes as it exists today!

Animal Bracelets Blog: How do you come up with your bandz designs?
Stretchy Shapes: We have an all-kid test group that provides great ideas and insight into where the band world is headed! We also listen a LOT to our fans and are always on the lookout for great ideas that no one else has done. Paired with our team of professional Graphic Designers, each pack is designed from start to finish from scratch.

Animal Bracelets Blog: What is the process you go through to make your bandz?
Stretchy Shapes: We do a tremendous amount of research into trends, visual design, and general "hipness". Our team of designers then illustrates each band- so they're all custom designed. Many of our competitors use "open molds" to make bands- these are molds that already exist that companies can use to manufacture bands. It's why you can get a yellow duck from so many places! We refuse to use these molds- we only use molds that we design, manufacture, and own. So our little Stretchies are always unique! So unique, in fact, that we submit them to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to protect them. We also aim to stay ahead of the animal bracelet trend. With Tie Dye, Scented, Metallic, and Confetti bands- we're the trend leader in innovation. And just wait 'til you see what we have in the works as I write this! I am so excited, I can barely stand it!

Animal Bracelets Blog: How do you come up with the different names of your bandz packs?
Stretchy Shapes: The pack names usually come after the bands are in the design process. We will use an internal "code" name for the pack while it's being developed. When all (or most) of the bands are complete, a true name will surface- one that seems to really embody the spirit of the pack. When the right one presents itself, the Stretchy Shapes team seems to automatically know that it's the keeper. :) The Sightings pack name actually came from our sales director, Cherie Stine (officially our "Sales Chick"). She wanted an Elvis band in the pack, and the name Sightings seemed perfect. (Even though Elvis didn't make the pack.)

Animal Bracelets Blog: How many packs of bandz has your company sold?
Stretchy Shapes: Yikes. Like a bazillion. :)

Animal Bracelets Blog: What is your favorite bandz design?
Stretchy Shapes: My personal favorite Stretchy is the Peace Symbol in the Hipster pack. While it seems very simple, it was quite a challenge for Michael Vizzina, the designer. But he's a design genius, and it was a big band moment at Stretchy Shapes HQ when he got it to finally work! The Mothman in our Sightings pack really makes me laugh every time I see it, and the Cupcake in our Happy Birthday pack is a brilliant design too.

Animal Bracelets Blog: Do you think the Animal Bracelets craze will ever slow down?
Stretchy Shapes: Sure, like all things, it will have its end. But with the craze moving across the nation, and now across the world, we're just focussed on bringing cool design and innovations to market- wherever that may be and for however long!

Animal Bracelets Blog: How many states and countries do you sell your bandz in?
Stretchy Shapes: We've lost count. I'd like to say you can visit our site to see the list of stores, but we're designing and selling faster than we can update that list, and it's horribly out of date! We also sell internationally to a number of countries, and we're adding more literally every day.

Animal Bracelets Blog: What is your best selling pack of bandz?
Stretchy Shapes: My Backpack. Hipster is really new, so it's hard to tell, but I think its sales will surpass that of My Backpack.

Animal Bracelets Blog: If you could be any Animal Bracelet, what Animal Bracelet would you be and why?
Stretchy Shapes: I'd be the Mp3 Player from My Backpack, of course. 'Cause then I'd be the MOST popular! :)


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how do you get the designs?

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Silly Bandz are just bracelets. They don't cause cancer.

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