Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin Hoy.
Kevin Hoy is a father, a U.S. Veteran and a dedicated entrepreneur who created a product called, Smart Apron, while waiting tables at Red Robin, as he found the traditional apron he was given was not very useful and poorly designed. Therefore, he set out to design an apron that would help organize his work items and make him more efficient.
The first Smart Apron prototype was created in 1993, and was very simple in design but included several elements Kevin required such as zipped pockets, quick release waist band and many pockets. Kevin tested this prototype himself as he worked, and also asked other co-workers to use one during their shifts and provide him with feedback.
Over the years, Kevin worked diligently on the original prototype, Waist Smart Apron, and received a U.S. Patent in 2001 for his product design efforts. Kevin continued to improve on this original design and would test them in a variety of environments such as restaurants, bars, with school teachers, in the home, in casinos and bingo halls, as well as at concession stands, with street cart and food truck vendors, face painters and countless other industries throughout the United States.
Kevin was joined by co-company founder, Hans Schramm, and together they attended trade shows, expanded their network of manufacturing representatives and ultimately, signed a distribution contract with Sysco Foods of Las Vegas.
Unfortunately, after discovering their order of 18,000 Smart Aprons from their manufacturer were all defective, marketing and sales had to be suspended until they could correct the manufacturing issues. This ‘pause in sales’ ended up lasting 1o years due to many unforeseen barriers.
Then in 2016, Kevin’s son, Kieran Hoy, presented the Smart Apron concept in his High School marketing class for his final project. After the presentation, Kieran’s marketing teacher asked him why this amazing product wasn’t being sold, and several of Kieran’s classmates wanted to purchase a Smart Apron.
Kieran informed his father about the presentation success and asked why did he stop selling the Smart Aprons. Kevin explained to his son what had happened, and told him he would revitalize the Smart Apron line if he would help, Kieran agreed immediately. The Smart Apron was reborn.
Between 2016 and early 2019, the Smart Apron team located a reliable manufacturer and began to develop a new line of Smart Aprons designs such as Waist, Full Bib, Standard Bib, Kids Bib, Cobbler, Kids Cobbler, Gaming, Half Bistro and Full Bistro. Prototypes of these new designs were sent out across the nation to a group called the Smart Apron focus group, which consisted of past and current customers. The focus group provided Kevin and his team with invaluable product feedback and design improvement ideas.
In March 2019, nine designs were approved for mass production with the manufacturer and the new Smart Apron website, www.TheSmartApron.com was completed. In June 2019, Kevin attended the 2019 Licensing and Branding Expo Show in Las Vegas to gauge the interest level of the Smart Aprons, and to his delight, he received interest from many well known US companies. Although several brands licensing negotiations are in progress, in October 2019, Smart Apron finalized a brand license with Turtle Wax and they are currently developing a Turtle Wax Smart Apron.
In June 2019, Kevin was invited to present the Smart Apron concept at the 2019 Apron Symposium, which was organized by the Apron Museum. This Symposium brought together ‘Apron scholars’ and fans alike to celebrate the history of aprons, apron innovation and the positive impact aprons had and have in America.
Presently, Kevin and his team are completing several product development milestones with Turtle Wax, preparing the launch of their Amazon Sellers Smart Apron store front and ensuring the next generation of Smart Aprons exceed their valued customer’s expectations.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a smooth road, as many obstacles had to be navigated and crossed. Through mistakes and mishaps beyond your control, will come one of the most important elements in creating a business, learning how to correct it and become a stronger and more adaptive business leader.
Being a very small family owned business, complete with the National and Globally known uniform and apron distribution companies, has been a challenge. Along with limited funding and balancing work, family and a business, the road is never smooth, but in a way starting a business is meant to test you, so you deal with struggles as they come, but don’t let them beat you.
One of the biggest challenges for Smart Apron is locating a reliable manufacturer. We have contracted with a Chinese Manufacturer, and they have been great to work with, but it took us a while to find them. We have desired to make our Smart Aprons in the USA but after 20+ attempts with USA based manufacturers, they can not produce the Smart Aprons for a cost we could sell them wholesale and/or retail.
Please tell us about your business.
The Smart Apron brand is owned by Smart Innovative Products, LLC that is managed by Kevin Hoy, with assistance coming from 3 other team members. What sets us apart from our competition is that we know we have developed the ‘better mouse trap’ or in our case the ‘better apron’, and in doing so we have not cut any corners in developing our designs. The obvious features on our designs are the seven pockets with two zippered, a quick release waist band and 2 side D-rings, however, the unseen design features are where we excel past our competitors. We incorporate, within our patent pending designs, 1/2″ wide bias overlay edges, that are then double sewn with a high tensile Nylon thread, we reinforce 16+ stress points with back tacked thread and use high quality components. We didn’t take any short cuts in ensuring our designs are not only innovative but durable and can be used for years.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Our big goal will take place in 2020, with the launch of our Amazon Smart Apron Storefront and Sellers Site. This will be our first official product launch on a national level, and we are thrilled to be close to this event.
Besides, Smart Apron will continue to obtain additional branding licenses with nationally known brands involved in the restaurant, bar and hospitality industries. We are confident we have the best designed aprons in the world, so when a well known brand agrees to test a Smart Apron sample, they will be ready to become a partner.
Since we have partnered with Turtle Wax we have learned the importance of obtaining a brand license partnership, and we want to build on the amazing business relationship we have with such a tremendous USA company, Turtle Wax.
- Waist Smart Apron $25.99
- Full Bib Smart Apron $29.99
- Bib Smart Apron $27.99
- Cobbler Smart Apron $34.99
- Address: 9921 E. Baseline Road, Mesa, Arizona 85209
- Website: www.TheSmartApron.com
- Phone: 480-688-3771
- Email: kevin.hoy@TheSmartApron.com