A family camping trip with friends Laura and Seth Anderson and Jeff and Kera Watts turned into a new entrepreneurial enterprise offering creative carryalls and decorative patches for children. As the two families sat around a campfire and watched their children autograph each other’s hiking packs, the idea for PatchPak was born. “I enjoy watching my kids express their personalities every day at home,” said Laura Anderson, a stay-at-home mom of three, ages 9, 7, and 4. “Their room doors are covered with stuff they tape on, their notebooks are decorated and they hang things from their backpacks. It’s like any of us – we like to personalize our things. My husband and I thought about what would be fun that they could do.” The Andersons decided to create a product that would allow kids to express themselves in a fun and positive way. They brainstormed with Jeff Watts, a father of three and co-founder. After two years of research and planning, the co-partners, who pooled their savings for start-up capital, started their business in February.
“All of the co-founders loved the idea of a product that supports creativity, self-expression, friendship and education for children,” said Seth Anderson, by day a partner with the Fort Worth law firm of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings LLP. Laura, also a lawyer who previously worked in two Fort Worth firms, continues to practice law part time as a sole practitioner. “We haven’t given up our day jobs,” she said. Based in Fort Worth, PatchPak LLC is an e-commerce site selling exclusive and originally designed patches and customizable products for kids. PatchPak offers a one-of-a-kind line of backpacks, binders and lunch bags. After kids choose a product, they select from 93 PakPatches and apply and arrange them however they want and change them whenever they want. The patches have a hook and loop backing that sticks to PatchPak products with ease. Children can also trade the patches with friends. “My daughter has the blue pack and every day she comes home from school and rearranges all her patches,” Laura Anderson said. “All the kids trade their patches around.” All six kids from the Anderson and Watts clans have been involved in every detail of the making of PatchPak. The original patches were inspired and approved by the founders’ children, who also voted for the colors of the products – red, blue, pink and green. The patches are made locally by a graphic designer.
“It’s truly been done at home with our friends and family,” Laura said. “Our kids had a ton of ideas throughout the entire process. They’ve really been involved from the get go. It may not be the business way to go about it but it’s always been about kids and for kids.” The patent-pending PatchPak line of products includes Large PatchPaks ($39), Youth PatchPaks ($32.99), PatchPak Lunch Bags ($19.99) and PatchPak Binders ($24.99). The selection of 93 patches includes letters, numbers and “personality” patches with designs such as sports emblems, animals, flowers, flags, cars, peace signs and popular sayings such as BFF, LOL and DIVA. The patches cost $3 each. “A lot of parents use the patches as incentives – a good grade, doing a chore around the house or good behavior,” Laura said. Plans are in the works, she added, to offer a capability on the company’s website where children can create their own patches. “You’ll be able to get a really detailed patch like a school mascot or your own drawing or photo,” she said. The company has a commercial running on Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network. Future business plans include introducing PatchPak in retail stores.
In addition to offering a kid-designed product for kids, PatchPak is committed to supporting community schools and charities. The company already has donated funds to the Aledo Children’s AdvoCats and the Hemispherectomy Foundation. As part of its “Patch Your Pak and Give Back” campaign, PatchPak is raising funds for the Aledo Independent School District, where the Anderson children attend. For every PatchPak product purchased on the website with the code “bearcats,” the company will give $5 to Aledo schools. “Our daughter came up with the idea to give back,” Laura said. “We’d love to eventually give back to schools nationwide. We just want that giving back to be part of our identity from the start. “Our kids are having fun and at the same time are learning what it takes to start a business and about giving back to the community,” she said. “Whether it succeeds or fails, we’re happy.”
PatchPak LLC 4200 W. Vickery Blvd. • Fort Worth, TX 76107 817-386-9199 • www.patchpak.com
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