We discovered Snappy Towels through Sports & Outdoors Week and fell in love with founder’s story about how and why he created his company. We chatted with founder Dan Wood about everything from superheroes to how this microfiber towel came to be.
How did Snappy Towels get its start?
About a year ago I was looking for a product that I could develop into a business. Around this time, my son asked me to tie a towel around his neck because he was pretending he was Batman, as every kid does at some point. Years earlier, some friends had sewn capes out of bath mats, velcro and cloth letters as the party favour for their son’s birthday.
I dug these up for my son and he thought they were awesome, although needed some improvements in size and materials. With a bit of research I realized a few things: 1) all kids use a towel in their make-believe play at some point; 2) tying things around kids’ necks isn’t a good idea, and velcro doesn’t work well on towels; and, 3) no one had taken this commercial on a big scale yet. I innovated on the fastener and the product for a few months, testing prototypes while on vacation in the Caribbean and camping in the summer with my family.
As a former lifeguard and competitive swimmer, I had some pretty strong ideas about the fabric. Cotton is fine for a typical home towel, but Snappy Towels are made to get around: the pool, vacation, the beach, etc. I wanted a fabric that would be compact but still feel good to use. I bought so many travel and sports towels in my research that my family won’t even touch because they feel like wet bluejeans on your skin. Unless you’re an elite mountaineer, you’ve got room in your bag for a towel that feels good. So it seemed there was a gap in the market for a compact, quick-drying sports towel that still feels like a real towel, and is big enough to wrap around your body but compact enough to travel conveniently with. Plus, our textured microfiber is sand-resistant, which is a really nice thing on the beach.
Combine this unique fabric with 6 pairs of BPA-free plastic snaps (so they don’t rust, cut, or damage laundry machines) and you’ve got a patent-pending, wearable microfiber swim towel that doubles as a cover-up, a change robe, a poncho for warming up or blocking the sun, and a super hero cape because capes are fun! We’re still discovering new ways to snap them together, such as joining multiple towels into a beach blanket.
As my background is in marketing and web development, I was able to set everything up myself and the company was live! The rest, as they say, is history.
What makes your microfiber towel unique and how do you stand out in the industry?
In the world of sports towels the snaps are the obvious differentiator, but we’re unique in our combination of towel sizing and fabric, too. What you find on the market today are generally 3 types of towels:
1. Too big: your standard everyday bulky heavy cotton terry towel. I took one of these when I backpacked the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island years ago, and along with packing too much canned food, my big wet cotton towel contributed to a knee injury from being overloaded on 75km of rainforest and beach hiking. Cotton towels are cheap and ubiquitous, but because they take so long to dry they get mildew easily. This isn’t a big deal in your bathroom, but in your gym bag, car or backpack it’s not good.
2. Too small: chamois towels, made of PVA. These are the tiny rags that you see Olympic divers using. They must be kept wet, and so are stored in a plastic container. You can’t wrap these around your body, and if you put them away too wet they can get moldy. These are fine for the Olympics, but useless at the beach, pool or on vacation.
3. Doesn’t feel right; suede microfiber towels, which are compact and quick-drying. Our towels are made a similar material, but in a totally different weave. The flat suede microfiber towels stick to your skin when wet, so the effect when drying yourself with one is that of rubbing your body in wet bluejeans. Anyone who’s owned one of these knows what I’m talking about. They are compact and so make a great piece of travel or outdoor gear in terms of function. But unless you’re an extreme mountaineer you have room in our bag for something that feels good.
So, in terms of size and material, Snappy Towels are big enough for the beach or to warm up after a swim, yet compact enough to take anywhere, and feel great when there. Another stand-out benefit are the snaps! It may seem like a gimmick but having snaps on your towel is really convenient.
A couple use-cases:
- The cape that started it all. This makes a great toy for kids, but I’m hoping it will become the next essential piece of gear for hockey fans, with the team logo on the towels of course. There’s something fun about wearing a cape. You can’t do it without smiling. And why not, life’s too short.
- Keeping the sun and wind out: snap your towel over your shoulders at the beach and keep your hands free for gear, drinks, kids, whatever. Lifeguards love this feature as they are always carrying a buoy or clip-board, but can quickly pull the towel off if they need to jump into the water.
- Quick changing robe: the towel is big enough for kids to get changed under. Men can wrap & snap the towel around the waist and get changed on the beach. No more dropping your towel in a cold mystery puddle in the change room.
- Wear as a hood: Hooded towels are popular with parents of smaller kids. I’m hoping this look will catch on with surfers.
- Boating: we haven’t done a wind-tunnel test yet, but the snaps are strong enough to hold on in the boat after wake boarding or water skiing.
We’re finding new uses still. There are 6 pairs of snaps so there are a lot of combinations. It’s like the Transformer of towels.
Tell us something awesome that someone may not know about Snappy Towels
It’s unusual in the retail space, but we also to do custom-printed towels, too. We do custom-branded Snappy Towels for swim teams, corporate getaways, fitness clubs, the travel industry and more!
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Dan. We can’t wait to get our hands on our own orange Snappy Towels.
Are you a Sports & Outdoors brand looking to connect with retailers and be involved in our next Sport & Outdoors Week?