A crisp December morning in 1994 found brothers Chuck and Bob Mellon, 40 and 42, respectively, on their usual dirt-bike route north of their hometown of Fresno, California. It started as a typical journey until Chuck rounded a corner, skidded on some ice and crashed his bike. Chuck rose from the wreck unscathed-his only mar was a few holes in the sleeve of his sweatshirt-but when he donned the shirt later, his thumb poked through one of the holes. The result? Pure bliss. He could move his fingers while keeping his palms nice and toasty.
Within two months, the siblings had crafted a prototype; within four, they had a product on their hands. Manufacturing men's, women's and children's sweatshirts with their special patented feature-cuffs which extend into fingerless gloves-Bob and Chuck launched Handcuffs, selling 1,000 shirts from a rented kiosk that Christmas and opening a retail store the following November. In 1997, they struck a deal with JC Penney and continued expansion in 1999 with the addition of five more retail stores and a mail-order catalog. That and a number of corporate uniform deals in the works have led to projected 2000 sales of more than $10 million.
Handcuffs, (559) 970-9545, www.Handcuffs.net