Anyone who shops at a farmers’ market, craft fair or garage sale has seen the familiar scenario: the customer pays the vendor who typically stashes the cash and makes change from a cash box that is sitting in a booth. Or the vendor reaches into a fanny pack exploding with a disorganized medley of money and personal items.
For Comox Valley entrepreneur Carol Elliott, this scenario was one she experienced often…and for years, as she worked the market circuit with her products, including the natural dog treats she made and marketed as former owner of the Pet Treat Bakery.
Tired of the vulnerability associated with cash boxes and fanny packs, with no secure place at a vendor booth to store essential personal items, Elliott is living proof that ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’
The idea occurred as she was making custom aprons and lunch sacks for adults and children through 12 Yellow Aprons, the business she started after selling the pet-treat business. Elliott researched wearable products on the Internet, but none offered the features she believed would address the vulnerability dilemma faced by thousands of vendors who sell at markets. So, she designed one.
Elliott created and wore her own belt-style vendor apron with zippered pockets to organize and safely store cash and personal essentials when selling at craft fairs. She not only experienced safe selling for the first time in years, but her prototype caught the attention of other vendors who asked how they could get one.
Seeing the market potential based on feedback, this creative entrepreneur launched her new ComoxValley-based company, VendorWear, in late October.
VendorWear offers a basic model of the vendor apron-belt in a variety of fabric choices, but the company also offers options to customize a VendorWear ‘tool belt.’ Options include full-bib aprons designed to help food vendors better protect their clothing, and additional compartments to suit specific needs.
Elliott plans to market VendorWear on the Island for phase one sales, but anticipates that online marketing through her website and Facebook page will open her to significant sales growth, given the growing popularity of market-style selling around the world. The company’s products are marketed as “the secure and wearable alternative to cash boxes and fanny packs,” with her tagline promoting a huge feature — “the zipped-up difference.”
VendorWear is in the process of being trademarked. Various product model names are being developed in preparation for the anticipated growth.