The Undress: Success by Getting Out of the Status Quo
“The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo” - Bob Iger, Walt Disney Company
Making progress is always grounded in being unsatisfied with the status quo, and change does not necessarily mean progress. Still, challenging the status quo is always a good choice. Many real-life examples prove this, and today, we’ll unravel one more - the story of The Undress.
Being active in today’s dynamic world with a busy daily schedule is challenging for everyone. Practicing sports activities between going to work, meetings, picking up kids from school, or shopping is time-consuming and not always a doable activity, especially for women.
Unlike men, women have difficulties finding a proper place or doing acrobatic movements with a towel when changing clothes.
While most women get used to it, this was a pushing button for Dennis Caco and April Estrada. They came up with an innovative solution that thousands of women are thankful for today - and it all started very unexpectedly.
Two Co-founders With Entrepreneurial Souls
Those who have heard of Dennis know how unstoppable he is when he sets his mind on something. Dennis would say that business is his passion, and he has repeatedly proven it by doing more than one business.
His professional career started back in 1998 when he founded Autocannon, a product development group that manufactures and distributes licensed automotive apparel. To come to $10 million in revenue and international recognition, he founded the company by selling T-shirts out of a van.
The same year he created the comic strip series, Max Boost, playing at the same time all roles, like the writer, inker, and colorist. Within an 8-year period, Max Boost reached over a million readers per month.
Dennis’ creativity was further developed as an executive producer in the profitable cult film “The last race,” which prompted him to found Tekno Vikings - a video production company specializing in marketing videos.
He advanced his marketing skills while being co-owner of 22Social, Brand Strategy and Consultation in PAX Programs, and Brand and marketing consultant in Hi-Tech Bikes. All the experience collected there was paid off with The Undress.
His entrepreneurial spirit riched success in small business development and startup expansion, proven during the 8 years he was leading Caco Enterprises as CEO. He gained all the experience and skills needed to make his new project, The Undress, successful - and that he did!
While Denis was working at a different and more than one job at the same time, April started working in one of Denis' companies when they met. She graduated from the University of California in 2011 and joined Denis’ team. A photography lover, April was the one whose marketing experience was an engine in their next common project, The Undress.
When a Dress Transforms Into a Mobile Changing Room
The idea for The Undress was born at Ed’s Waterfront Run in Sun Diego, where Dennis and April Estrada took part. 50 to 100 runners go running every Thursday, but unfortunately, the place had no restroom or building to get changed. Dennis noticed that before and after workouts, most women had to find different solutions to change their clothes, hiding in a car or bushes to put on and take off the workout clothes, hiding from the public's prying eyes. In fact, April did not change at all.
While for most active women, this practice was accepted as a kind of normal way of doing it, for Dennis it was not. He directed his thoughts to find a better solution than this one. He was thinking of The Undress company producing a dress that would work as a mobile changing room in an open space, portable and easy to use. So in 2013, once he drafted the initial design, he shared it with April.
April was the one who trusted the idea the moment she tried the prototype, delighted by how brilliant it was. She was the first to join the team, although she was not experienced in fashion at all.
Her lack of experience didn’t stop them from going forward. Supported by the knowledge and experience of April’s mother and sister, who was a fashion designer, April made the first pattern from the virtual idea.
Once the product was made, they decided to go through Kickstarter. They presented the product and all its benefits and were honest in telling interested customers that they were new in business with no available stock. They offered an option of pre-ordering, planned the time needed for production and delivery, and set up a goal to raise a budget of $22.000 to fund it initially.
When You Get the Unexpected / From Project Idea to a Business
What happened in only 39 days; they couldn’t even fathom it. They ended up founding by raising $615.000, which was an amazing result. That was it. It was a clear sign that people needed such a solution for their problem and believed in the product they’d get.
Such a tremendous interest was exciting and challenging at the same time. They had to produce 10.000 undresses instead of the initially planned 400. And again, they were scared but didn’t allow themselves to get demotivated because of a lack of manufacturing experience. It was an additional motive to make their dream come true and to respond to every single order.
This first wave of orders was a ground to build a true relationship with all the customers. This relationship helped Dennis and April to get honest feedback and learn what can be improved and what customers expect next. This resulted in 15 improvements and upgrades and 3 new functionalities on the dress. The new version was available on Kickstarter again, and this time they raised $170,000.
Dennis made The Undress available on social media, which built up its popularity, and the share of voice was far increased. Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms helped to reach a broader audience and convince potential customers of the product that offers a solution for their active lifestyle. Thanks to Dennis’ previous experience and sense of business, all this was done.
The Undress V6 and Beyond
Today, Dennis and April are accompanied by Internal Team & Production Crew: Marat Zabelinskiy, Nestor P., Mark A, Richard, Ruben, Clio K., Raquel, Stephany, and VIP Crew: Mr. Money Bags - Ben A., MiMi anMark, Padres Numero Uno - Margerita and Jerry Estrada, Marat Zabelinskiy who have been together and made up the 6th version of The Undress.
Both co-founders are so grateful for the energy, talent, encouragement, and support of the team members, so The Undress is continuously improving even after 8 years of the first launch.
The latest version is irresistible because of several reasons. It is a mobile changing room, convenient for runners, yogis, swimmers, surfers, and any other outdoor adventurers. It can be converted into a skirt, is packable and worn in 4 different ways, and has magic pockets. Now, it is available in a new smock top design, offers versatility, ease to adapt to different sizes, is individually made, and offers a 90 days satisfaction guarantee.
Tremendous improvement in meeting customers’ expectations has been achieved thanks to many conducted types of research and openness to customer feedback.
Being a devoted partner in making a dream come true on a very challenging pathway with hard work and crazy expectations, contributing in every single step of the process, is a partner that can only be desired, like April. And Dennis, a leader with vision and courage, who believes in the idea from the first day, but is capable of keeping things together even in hard times, is committed to taking care of the whole team.
Such built-up connections among business partners and the whole team, supported by investors, have a promising further success that will come.