843
10 min 5 sec

Chemical Engineer Zips Up Solution for Baggy Shirts

When an engineer receives a ridiculously baggy work shirt, he grabs it by the collar and designs a DIY tailoring device. Four years later, he’s sold $150,000 of them.
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What It's About

An engineer grabs a problem by the collar and designs a zippy, DIY tailoring device.

Business Model
Manufacturing
Skills Required
Product Development & Marketing
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Creating an ingenious and inexpensive solution to a common problem has brought SiDi a lot of publicity, and he’s focused most of his outreach efforts around his Kickstarter campaigns. Which led to a big problem: traffic dropped way off after the campaigns.

His advice is to be aware of this effect, and have a plan for maintaining momentum after the time-limited attention dies down.

Fun Fact

SiDi’s first ZipSeam prototype was made from two planks of wood and bending several nails to create a slot for the other piece of wood to slide into. It made a neat seam, but as you can imagine, was bulky and a tad bit uncomfortable. Who wants to wear an outfit with two planks of wood attached to your inseam? Ouch.

Notes from Chris

Episode 843

SiDi Huang is what we like to call a “serial side-hustler.” He manages rental properties, rents out cars through the platform Turo, and flips bulk items he finds at Walmart for profit. He is basically several of our most popular episodes rolled into one!

And that’s not all: SiDi is also the inventor of ZipSeam, a DIY gadget that lets you tailor your baggy clothes in a matter of minutes—no sewing experience required!

Four years ago, he was working as a chemical engineer—a chemical engineer with a ridiculously baggy work shirt. He liked the shirt a lot, and it fit well in the neck—but in the chest and belly section, completely swallowed him up. It wasn’t exactly a good look for him. When he got home and rifled through his closet, it occurred to him that his entire wardrobe could use a little tailoring.

Shackled by student loan debt, a complete wardrobe makeover was out of the question, and his engineering education didn’t include many classes in tailoring. So, SiDi grabbed the challenge by the collar ... literally. To see if anyone else had this problem, he went to do some reading on Reddit. There, he discovered that the struggle was real—baggy shirts were a borderline epidemic!

He considered what an ideal solution would look like. First and foremost, it needed to be a temporary, reusable solution—something that could easily be added to and removed from multiple shirts. After all, this was the poor man’s tailoring hack. And if the look he was going for was “tailored,” it needed to create a clean seam and be invisible from the exterior of the shirt. It should also be flexible and move easily with the wearer and the shirt itself.

One day, during a drive, SiDi was struck with visions of a C-shaped, hollow tube that you could place along a seam and tuck in excess shirt material. “This might actually work!” he thought. So instead of heading straight home, he made a beeline to Menards, the Midwest’s answer to Home Depot, and purchased enough fish tank tubing to raise some eyebrows.

A true man of industry, SiDi headed down to his parents’ basement and got to work. He made a few prototypes using the fish tank tubing, a knife to create strategically placed cutouts for increased flexibility, and something to give the tubing a small amount of rigidity (the first iteration involved thin planks of wood—ouch!) before settling on a woodless version that he was satisfied with.

Needing a catchy name, he called it ZipSeam.

Over the last four years, SiDi fine-tuned ZipSeam creating two new iterations that he launched again on Kickstarter. Collectively, they brought in an additional $40,000. Since launching, SiDi says that he’s sold roughly $150,000 worth of ZipSeams. He also received his long-awaited patent.

He’d like to continue growing the ZipSeam business and launch another product in the near future. And, if possible, avoid using more planks of wood as prototypes…



MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • ZipSeam: Zip on over to SiDi's website to get a tailoring solution of your own!

SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"Find an idea that solves a problem then make an inexpensive prototype. Finally, test, test, test the market before you really go all in!"
—SiDi Huang #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau