Everfan's Custom Capes Take Off Among Superhero Worshipers
Entrepreneur: Scott Chastain turned a childhood infatuation with super-heroes into a grown-up business. His Thomasville, Ga.-based company, Everfan, sells custom capes for kids and adults, including sports fans, corporate clients and nonprofits.
“Aha” moment: When the dip in the real-estate market led to a decline in business at his landscape architecture firm, Chastain
started dreaming up ideas for new ventures. With the twin powers of a sewing machine and his imagination, he stitched together
his passions for superheroes and college football to create colorful capes with collegiate logos. Everfan launched in 2011.
Getting schooled: As a startup with no sales history, Everfan faced a challenge securing collegiate licensing agreements. To prove there was a market for his capes, Chastain had to get letters of endorsement from retailers who wanted to place orders. The support was overwhelming. “Before I even had a product, I had thousands of dollars in orders,” he recalls.
Convinced of the demand for branded superhero capes, the Collegiate Licensing Company granted Everfan licenses for five colleges, including Auburn University in Alabama and the University of Georgia in Athens. Chastain contracted with manufacturers in China and ordered 10,000 capes.
Splat! During football season his first year in business, Chastain partnered with collegiate retailers for promotion; he also donned a cape with the appropriate college logo and talked to tailgaters before games. The capes generated buzz, but sales stalled when football season ended.
Left with thousands of unsold capes at the end of the first season, Chastain questioned his entrepreneurial ability. “When you have an idea and people tell you they love it, you get caught up in the excitement of thinking you can sell it,” he says. “I made some rookie mistakes.”
Power in numbers: To boost sales, Chastain remarketed the capes as offbeat promotional items, generating orders from nonprofits and corporate clients such as Google and Behr. Everfan’s largest order has come from MTV, which ordered 3,000 capes to distribute to attendees at Comic-Con in San Diego. A cape with a logo retails for $26 to $34; matching masks and “powerbands” are priced at $6 to $8. Chastain expects revenue this year to exceed $400,000.
Change in the winds: Even though he has secured licensing rights for 10 major universities in the southern U.S. and continues marketing capes during football season, Chastain is considering abandoning the collegiate market mainly because of rising royalty rates, as well as intense competition and the need to focus capital on other areas of the business.
“It’s hard to give up on the original idea, but it’s amazing to be able to shift the business to fit a more profitable market and watch the business evolve,” he says. “But the biggest surprise is that I’m able to make a living selling superhero capes.”
Meanwhile, Chastain recently launched a web platform that allows users to mix and match colors and graphics to design custom capes online.
“We sell superhero capes,” he says, “but as a business, Everfan is all about tapping into people’s imaginations.”