Q & A with Wrap –n– Snaps Founder Sam LaCasse

We’re a few months into our start-up adventure at Wrap –n– Snaps headquarters, but when we think about the original bracelet system concept, the germ of the idea goes back much further. Our founder, Sam LaCasse, took a break from fulfilling our flurry of holiday orders to look back and reflect on how we got here: from Square One to the highs and lows of building a new company from the ground up. We’re super grateful to have made it thus far, and we’re so excited to continue bringing positive, innovative designs to our community of Snappers.

Thank YOU for all of your support thus far!

 

What prompted you to start a kids’ bracelet company?

As a former educator, I recognized that kids need an outlet to express their diverse passions and saw that students learn better when they use interactive, hands-on activities that they can relate to. The bracelet idea came to me after years of wearing a Livestrong bracelet and recognizing that bracelets, of some sort, have been a fashion trend since I was kid. In thinking about designing bracelets for elementary students, I wanted to find a way to make them more fun and gender neutral. So, I started fastening prototypes with interchangeable parts so that kids could personalize their interests and make the experience more creative and engaging. For kids, play learning is much more special if it taps into things that are meaningful to them. So, in creating a silicone bracelet with interchangeable snaps, kids can choose and design their own passions and physically manipulate the bracelet to express their individuality. Plus, they can switch things up by collecting new snaps all the time.

Wrap n Snaps official logo

What made you decide to call the company “Wrap –n– Snaps”?

Let me tell you, there were so many ideas out there in the beginning. Choosing a name and sticking with it was actually pretty tough. I really went to the market to help settle on the name. I talked to kids and parents to help brainstorm ideas and then started a running list of different names that I liked, and I would rattle them off to my wife over dinner or while we were driving to work in the morning. There was definitely a lot of back and forth, but we eventually whittled it down to Wrap –n– Snaps and Snappers and then stuck with Wrap –n– Snaps after polling students, friends, and family.

What is your work background?

Starting in high school and going through college and even after college, I worked as either a camp counselor or as an educator. I had great teachers when I was growing up, and I wanted to pay it forward by working collaboratively with kids both in and outside the classroom. My favorite teachers taught me to overcome challenges that I faced in a fun and interactive way. In that sense, they were certainly role models and so I worked in college and in my early 20’s to become a certified elementary teacher. As an educator, I realized that my passion was incorporating interactive, dynamic lesson plans to capture students’ attention. This jumpstarted my entrepreneurial spirit and gave me a reason to apply to business school. While at CU Leeds, I learned the framework of entrepreneurship and gained the confidence to start my own company.

What advice would you have for other entrepreneurs in the start-up phase?

Share your Wrap n Snaps passions with your friends

  1. First advice would be to follow your passion. Start-ups consume a lot of your time and so your passion is the fuel that keeps you going. For me, there have been tons of roadblocks and setbacks, but when I see kids laughing and enjoying our products, I feel reinvigorated and up for the next challenge.
  2. My next advice would be to listen to the market and trusted advisors. The market will tell you where you need to pivot. For example, our first prototypes had plastic snaps and after listening to parents and kids express their preference for shiny, metal snaps, we went back to the drawing board to incorporate their feedback. Let’s see…oh yeah, building relationships with trusted advisors is also key. I have found so many people that are willing to share their knowledge about entrepreneurship and point you in the right direction. When you’re at a start-up, it’s easy to get tunnel vision because you’re thinking, living and breathing your company all the time. Advisors help you see the big picture and organize top priorities.
  3. Finally, I would stress the importance of working with people are good at what they do and care about what you’re doing. Tensions can run high when you’re pouring your energy into building something from the ground up so surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people who share your vision makes all the difference.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in starting your business?

Well, there’s been a lot. I would say finding the right people for the right job is up there. For example, it took me awhile to figure out how to connect with the right people to manufacture our products. We went through countless iterations and several companies because I really wanted to deliver a product that was top quality. You could say there was some perfectionism in the mix, but I also wanted to stay true to my vision. Ultimately having patience and enlisting the right people got me to where I am, but it wasn’t always easy. A business is such a collaborative effort that every team member counts. From manufacturing to accounting to design, there’s so many moving parts and personalities that need to work together. The flip side is that the reward is often commensurate with the challenge, and we’ve been fortunate enough to work with some amazingly talented individuals.

What is your favorite part about starting your own company?

I think the best part for me has been seeing my dreams come to life. There’s no doubt that it’s an uphill battle, but it’s fun seeing tangible results. Not so long ago, this was just an idea in my head. So, to have an actual product in real packaging with bar codes and all is an exciting development. It’s also pretty easy to work on something you’re passionate about. I don’t think the spark would be there for me if I wasn’t doing something in line with my background and interests. Education and working with kids has informed most of my adult life so this is just another building block to that passion.

Wrap n Snaps Red Wyoming Bracelet System

What’s your favorite snap collection?

Right now, I would say my favorite snap collection is Wyoming. It has the mountain snap, and I’m an avid skier plus it has a trout snap, and I love to fish. I love the state of Wyoming and repping the local community that has supported this venture.  But, truthfully, I switch them up all the time. I’m wearing frogs and geckos today.

What was your favorite toy when you were growing up?

My brother and I used to have super nerf gun fights. We would hide different guns around the house and have an all-out war with the neighborhood kids. It’s safe to say my wife’s probably happy that I’ve transitioned to educational toys.

Wrap n Snaps Blue Starter Kit: Collector Board, Tube, Bracelets, SnapsWhat’s the best way to get kids going with Wrap –n– Snaps?

Well, the cool thing is there’s not really a single best way. A lot of the kids wearing Wrap –n– Snaps started by simply picking a theme collection that resonated with them. My nephew, for example, is all over the pirate collection. However, we also specifically designed a starter kit to help kids jumpstart their collections. They come with a collector board, 2 bracelets, 16 snaps, and a storage case so kids can showcase and organize all their snaps. What’s nice about having the collector board is you can collect snaps over time and trade and switch them out with your mood. Wrap –n– Snaps are a pretty cool way to see what colors and interests different kids gravitate to and in that sense, they get themselves going.

What’s next?

Right now, we’re stoked for the holidays knowing that a lot of kids will get their first introduction to Wrap –n– Snaps opening presents Christmas morning. In February, we are going to the Toy Fair in New York City to test the pulse of the industry before we exhibit at Toy Fest West in early March. Between now and then, it’s a matter of orchestrating marketing and fundraising opportunities and listening to the market. My mind is always churning about how to best capture kids’ interests so Wrap –n– Snaps can be the best it can be, so stay tuned!

Got something you’d like to see at Wrap –n– Snaps? We’d love your feedback!