For the owners of Braxley Bands, it all started as a class project.
Braxton Manley and Grant Andrews were given an assignment at Texas Tech to create a big business idea on a student-sized budget. They came up with a concept for a comfortable Apple Watch band, and within a year turned that idea into a booming business.
Their fabric bands are not only known for being comfortable; they’re machine-washable and maintain their elasticity even after being stretched over the hand. The bands use no clasps or buckles but are slid over the wrist. They come in four sizes and fit the Apple Watch 38mm, 40mm, 42mm or 44mm. The multitude of designs change continually, something that was part of their initial business plan.
At a price point at $32 per band their product is significantly less expensive than most Apple Watch bands. In the near future they’re exploring the creation of a waist band utility belt.
An exciting opportunity for Manley and Andrews happened during a South by Southwest panel in Austin more than a year ago.
“We managed to get a Braxley Band on Mark Cuban. It was truly a surreal moment.”
Cuban is one of the hosts of the TV series Shark Tank, a reality show for entrepreneurs and new businesses to find investors.
During a Q&A session as part of the panel, Manley and Andrews approached the microphone and asked Cuban if he would be willing to wear one of their watch bands. When he agreed, they presented him with a blue and white band in the colors of the Dallas Mavericks, the NBA team owned by Cuban.
Soon after the event, business surged.
“We learned we currently have what we need to keep our business growing. We’re okay playing by our own rules instead of following direction from an investor,” said Manley.
Those rules include using sustainable materials in their bands, like 100% recycled fabric. They are also proud of an initiative to plant a tree for every band sold. So far more than 40,000 trees have been planted through Trees for the Future, an organization to end poverty and hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“If we can make an impact, why wouldn’t we do it?” said Andrews. “It’s a small thing to us but a big deal to someone on the other side of the world.”
They hope to someday be an inspiration for other entrepreneurs.
“We started with $20 and my grandmother’s sewing machine,” Manley said. “We had to learn fast about distribution, challenges with manufacturing and packaging, and all of it while finishing college.”
He offered advice to those who want to launch a product or start their own business.
“You’ve got to be ready to learn and be patient,” Manley said. “Nothing happens overnight. I hope others can see, though, that it’s not an impossible thing to accomplish.”
Their bands are available online at braxleybands.com.