Philadelphia Business Journal - Getaway Packable Travel Hats
The Creators: Fishtown packable hats startup outstrips funding goal ahead of new product launch
As an avid traveler, Scott Cymbor frequently found himself frustrated with the hat options on the market, specifically that they creased if folded. When the gear available didn’t live up to his expectations, he decided to launch his own company.
Based in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Getaway Hats just completed a Kickstarter campaign, raising over $40,000 toward a new line that is expected to drop in May. It will build on Getaway Hats’ existing offerings and ultimately supplant current inventory.
Cymbor launched Getaway Hats in the market in September 2021 as an e-commerce business, with a focus on Amazon. Once the brand gained more recognition, Cymbor turned his attention to his own website, which he hopes to make the main driver when the new hats launch this spring. Still, he recognizes the importance of big retailers and will continue to have a presence on Amazon.
A federal government employee, the idea was to create a side hustle that addressed his frustrations while also tying in his passions. While Cymbor continues to work for the government full time – he has an MBA with a concentration in forensic accounting – he said if it grew big enough one day it would be a dream to take Getaway Hats on as his sole job.
Hats were an ideal choice for Cymbor, who has worn the accessory for years. Long looking for a business idea that would mesh with both his analytical and creative sides – he dabbles in photography and music – a packable hat struck the perfect balance.
Cymbor, who said he’s always been a “hat guy,” would get frustrated when his hats got creases in them, whether from traveling or just hanging out with family.
In the market, he saw athletic hats and fashion hats that said they were packable but that “no one was actually committing to it. For me, I saw an opportunity for a brand focused on packable hats and gear that could definitely be applied to the travel niche.”
When the first iteration sold surprisingly well – Cymbor said he generated revenue of about $40,000 from that hat – he decided to give it an upgrade. “I wanted to make it more of a premium brand,” he said, likening the new version to Lululemon quality.
He spent the past 18 months iterating on the original to get it to that point, going through as many as 30 different ideas. “I basically broke everything down, even the brim,” he said.
The result is the forthcoming version made with an Ultrasuede headband and a mesh structure that means the hats can be folded, crushed or packed and still return to their original shape without creasing. An updated brim gives it floatability while its outer fabric is water repellent. The headband is also stain- and odor-resistant.
The new hats come in three designs: a universal six- panel baseball hat; a “Bronco” five-panel trucker hat; and a California-style option, which is a seven-panel modern trucker hat.
He expects them to retail for $49 or more, an increase from the original version which he is selling at a discounted rate of $15, and the second iteration, which is going for $35.
The Kickstarter campaign far outstripped Cymbor’s $5,000 goal and even his personal stretch goal of $30,000. In total, Getaway Hats raised $40,374 from 678 backers during its month-long campaign, which wrapped on Feb. 23.
“Kickstarter is showing me there is more demand than what maybe I thought,” he said.
The campaign was so successful that he believes he will need to increase inventory and is also toying around with a surprise additional option.
Prior to the Kickstarter campaign, Getaway Hats was self-funded. Cymbor turned to crowdfunding as a way to help scale business. “I think it's a good way to get a cult following from there. And it's a good way to almost develop your business plan somewhat,” he said.
The funds raised from Kickstarter will go toward production and purchasing fabric.
Cymbor said he isn’t seeking investors but is open to them. “A dream investor within Philadelphia, which would be like the perfect partnership ... would be Michael Rubin of Fanatics,” he said of the Main Line- based CEO.
Though the hat is non-gendered, Getaway Hats’ primary consumer so far has been men, specifically those between the ages of 24 and 44, who enjoy traveling and have disposable income to spend on high-end goods. He hopes to expand sales to women and is considering offering the hat in two sizes.
Sales have thus far been concentrated in North America but have recently been opened internationally.
Eventually Cymbor is looking to add additional hat options to the mix. By having a range of colors and styles, he imagines the same consumer will purchase multiple hats to wear with different outfits.
While the main focus is on travel, Cymbor is also targeting adventure-seekers and those “on the go” to expand his consumer base.
Cymbor already is considering future additions to the line like a packable Hawaiian shirt. “I just want it to be this lighthearted, trendy kind of brand, in a way, that really doesn't take itself too seriously,” he said.
Before moving into other segments, Cymbor wants to perfect the hat and garner brand recognition. “That's my mindset on it right now, make it the best I can, try to grow it out and from there and see what happens,” he said.