To say that entrepreneur Adam Rapp loves to travel is an understatement. He's visited 35 countries, taken an open-ended journey to explore Europe and Asia, and is about to go with his colleagues on a safari trip to Namibia. These experiences have given Rapp plenty of reasons to purchase various travel products. He's used and worn out countless backpacks, jackets, shoes and other gear over the years, but there was one product category he was never truly satisfied with: pickpocket protection.
Rapp had his first run-in with pickpockets during a trip to Xian, China, in 2007. He and his traveling companions were able to ward them off before they could take anything, but the experience made him start thinking about the problems with his current method of protecting his valuables.
"I wondered, why do I have to wear a money belt to protect my things?" Rapp said. "I looked for something stylish that also offered protection, but couldn't find what I wanted. So I thought, if no one is making it, why don't I?"
Months before this incident, Rapp had started a company called Clothing Arts that produced travel-inspired T-shirts. With the idea for pants with integrated security features forming in his mind, he decided to put his T-shirt operation on hold and instead use Clothing Arts as a means to produce a better pair of travel pants.
Over the next several years, Rapp worked on designing what would become the Pick-Pocket Proof Pants, or "P-Cubed (P^3) Travel Pants." The cut-resistant nylon pants, which are available as long pants, shorts or convertible pants, feature numerous pockets with multiple layers of zippers and buttons to protect your passport, wallet and other important items while traveling. Rapp's goal in creating his P^3 Pants was to design a garment that would do more, last longer, and take travelers farther than anything else out there.
After hiring a small Turkish clothing maker to manufacture prototypes of P^3 Pants, Rapp showcased his new product at Outdoor Retailer, one of the largest biannual trade shows for the travel industry, where he was able to connect with major potential retailers and customers. In such a tight niche market, the Clothing Arts teams needed more than just a great product to stand out.
"It took a lot of work and we really had to compete," Rapp told BusinessNewsDaily. "We needed well-rounded marketing tactics."
Part of those marketing tactics is simple word-of-mouth advertising from people that have purchased and loved P^3 Pants.
"Travelers are the best marketing tool that we could have ever hoped for," Rapp said. "We're doing something so new and unique, and adding real value to people's travel experience. They'll tell someone about their trip and talk about the pants. It really expands the number of travelers that buy our clothes."
Other than satisfied customers, travel catalogs have been Clothing Arts' biggest supporter. Rapp spent most of the capital he had on the cost of his first Outdoor Retailer display, which paid off when catalogs began featuring P^3 Pants and bringing them to a wider audience. The company has been invited to display at every subsequent Outdoor Retailer show since then, and each time, they return with a bigger and better product line.
Despite the consistent growth and success of Clothing Arts year after year, retail stores have been slower to carry its products. Magellan's, a travel supply company, only recently began selling P^3 pants.
"There's less risk for catalogs — they just have to print a picture on a page," Rapp explained. "Stores carry big-name brands like North Face and Columbia. When a new brand comes along, they want to make sure that it'll be a good investment."
So what's next for the traveling entrepreneur and his company? Since Clothing Arts has enjoyed so much success among U.S. travelers, Rapp feels the time is right to begin selling P^3 Pants in Europe and Asia, and much of his recent efforts have gone into supplying overseas distributors. He also expects the introduction of a new line within the next year. And that Namibian safari trip he's taking? It's a company-wide retreat in which employees will take new catalog photos and enjoy the fruits of their work.
Through all the hard work and challenges he's endured in his business venture, the one thing that has made it worthwhile is hearing back from customers.
"We're so grateful for their support and the reviews they've written," Rapp said. "We've sold almost 7,000 pairs of pants. It's great to know there's a whole tribe of people walking around in garments I designed."