Wraps Performance Athletic Accessories is the result of Summer Company, which is an opportunity for students returning to school in the fall, to try their hand at running a small business over the summer holidays. They are given business training, assisted to write a business plan and receive up to $1,500 for start-up and an additional $1,500 upon completion. Summer Company provides students a taste for entrepreneurship, provides experience and awareness of the strong local business community.
Below is Phil Sequin’s Story
Wraps Performance Athletic Accessories
“My business is called Wraps Performance Athletic Accessories, and I have designed a wrist and ankle brace with no plastic parts. I currently have a patent pending for it. I’ve played baseball all my life, been working out since Grade 9 and I did kinesiology related studies in high school, but the idea for my wrist support dates back to when I was a little kid at my first Blue Jays baseball game.
I saw all these amazing infielders wearing really long sweatbands, but I could never find them in the stores. Much later I realized they were using tape, but tape is so uncomfortable. Right now, athletes who want wrist support probably use hockey tape, which is brittle and restricts your movement, and it’s expensive, too, five bucks a roll and you use about 10 rolls a season. Or they just wear a sweatband, which is bulky and ugly and not much support.
I designed a support wrap with a tensioning system that doesn’t need plastic parts which can cause injury if you land on them..
My design has a fabric buckling system. Dual fabric layers wick away sweat and dissipate it into the air. It keeps joints secure and muscles loose and relaxed. It gives good support, the fabric buckle holds 50 pounds of pressure, and it’s very stretchy, a polyester and spandex blend that you can wrap really tight up your arm or just at the base. Using it on the bench press gave me 20 pounds the first week – so I know it works.
I developed it in 2016. I had tried wearing a tensor bandage but that was uncomfortable and not durable. So I cut up a spandex shirt and wrapped it round my wrist. That was better, and I built on the idea, adding Velcro. Figuring out a fabric buckling system was the breakthrough.
I went to a couple of local seamstresses to see if they could help, I checked out stitches and fabrics but in the end I took up the needle and thread and figured it out myself. I took my prototype to some manufacturers. They all turned me down. But I met an old Chinese couple who supply Tommy Hilfiger and Fila and Puma and they really liked me. I told them I couldn’t guarantee sales, but if I made any sales I’d come right back to work with them. They took a chance and made me 1,000 wraps.
I started out with 100 plain black wraps to test the market. I’ve also made blue ones for the fitness market but they’re a triple layer of neoprene material and very different. I’m experimenting, but my main focus is on the double layer, wicking, stretch fabric and it will come in black, white, grey and red – plus one fun one in lime green.
I’ve sold to some team mates, sold a couple through my website, but my biggest success is selling 10 wraps to Belleville Pitch and Hit, a new batting cage operation. I’m giving a few out, too, because I just want to get them out there on people’s wrists.
I used the Small Business Grant, and put in $4,000 of my own money, to get started producing the 1,000 wraps and getting a patent going and doing some T-shirts and marketing stuff. I’ve got two investors, just friends and family who helped me.
I’m sure I can handle school and the business in Fall. I will be playing short stop for Ryerson University so I’ll have some connections, maybe get some guys there to wear them. See if the team manager knows anybody interested in a bulk order.
I patented my design to protect it. Instead of the usual utility patent that costs about $15,000, we went for a design patent that patents the shape and is 80% cheaper, and it does what I need – which is to protect my low profile design with tapered fabric for a fabric buckle that doesn’t scrunch up around the wrist. My mum is an artist so she did the illustrations which saved me a lot of money. Now I have two years protection in Canada and six months before I have to apply for another provisional patent in the U.S. I think that will be a big market, too. I’ve protected my intellectual property. I haven’t even looked at supplying big stores yet, but when I’m ready I’ll go and ask What will it take to get my product in here? Then I’ll look at licensing, custom orders. One step at a time!”
More About Summer Company
Summer Company is a core program of the Small Business Centre running annually from mid-May to August 31. It is an opportunity for students returning to school in the fall, to try their hand at running a small business over the summer holidays. They are given business training, assisted to write a business plan and receive up to $1500 for start-up. After they run their summer business, complete all group activities and administrative aspects of the program and return to school, they receive an additional participation award of $1,500.
For the second year in a row, a portion of the overall Quinte budget has been allotted for development of a satellite program to run in Picton. The 10 participants in the satellite group come from PEC, L&A and Tyendinaga. They range in age from 15 to 19. Businesses include henna tattoo, beads made from natural stone, dance and arts camps, native crafts classes, postcards of local landmarks, athletic wear, indigenous jewellery, property maintenance and sports accessories.
Applying for Summer Company is a rigorous process. By the time a student has been approved and receives their start-up grant, they have written a detailed business plan including a start-up budget and cash flow, signed several legal documents, registered the business, secured insurance if needed and set up a separate bank account. It’s fair to say that not everyone who expresses an interest in Summer company, gets through this process! Help is available in the form of Sandy Abbott, the Small Business Centre consultant Prince Edward/Lennox and Addington, but the burden of completion by the early May deadline falls on the students themselves.
“Looking back at participants I have worked with over the last 5 years, I would say Summer Company students tend to be leaders with high aspirations. These particular ten have started businesses which allow them to follow their passion and make money at the same time. They all intend to keep the business going when they return to school and one already has plans to hire an assistant for next year. The program is for students who intend to continue their education. While many restart the business every summer during university, most have plans to work in professional services or skilled trades eventually. The program builds entrepreneurial skills and experience which is a factor in many graduates becoming business owners eventually.”
The enthusiasm for ‘being your own boss’ rubs off on other kids during the summer. Friends and family of the Summer Company students watch their progress during the summer and Youth in general visit the markets and fairs where they sell their products. Many ask questions about how the businesses got started. After just 2 years, we have an unofficial waiting list of 5 students who are waiting to turn 15 so they can launch their own business with the help of the program!
“Working with the Youth in Summer Company is a highlight of my year as a small business consultant. In just 12 short weeks these kids turn a passion into a viable idea, complete as much documentation as is required of any adult and come up with practical ways to connect with customers and make money. They bring enthusiasm and positive energy to the process and the perseverance to tie all the loose ends together in a vey short business cycle.”