The Crazy Life of a Custom Promo Product

I was an idea, at first. Not even that. I was a possibility.  

The US Ski and Snowboard team was putting together merch kits for their biggest donors. Generous people they are, some famous (I’ll never name names), who were stuck in their homes during COVID. So, how do you make them feel like they’re attending a big, shiny US Ski and Snowboard event honoring them when they’re not attending a big shiny US Ski event honoring them?   

Enter me. Or at least the idea of me. (And a whole bunch of friends I’ll mention in a minute.)  It was percolating in the brain of Austin Hayford-Moody, an Account Director at Grapevine Designs.  How could he take this idea and make it better, more custom, even? Because that’s what he does, and that’s how they all think at Grapevine Designs.  

Austin began to brainstorm about the sport of skiing, specifically their gear.  Skiers wear beanies pompoms flying during competition, so why couldn’t the bottles that would be packed inside the kits wear beanies, too? Voila! The idea of me was born.  Austin created a prototype faster than you can say “tiny hamster hat”. A miniature US Ski and Snowboard logo patch was added, and I became REAL! He then approached some custom manufacturing suppliers and found one that could make a whole bunch of me. How exciting is that?! Besides sewing a tiny little “sample” of me up front, it involved creating and sewing on tiny US Ski and Snowboard logos and putting a little bitty pompom on the top of me. (See pic Aren’t I cute?!) 

Soon all my clones and I (which one is the real me? I’ll never tell…) were packed up and headed to Grapevine Designs where I made a bunch of new friends! A popcorn popper, popcorn, koozies, a playbill/journal, M&M’s and tickets to the main event and a special bottle to drink – this was a party! Once we had all arrived, kitting manager Kristin Wood arranged us in a custom box to display us to our best advantage. The custom box was created by designer Taylor Jantsch to look like a theater where this fancy event would have taken place (if there wasn’t Covid of course). And then the kitting team jumped into action. It was an assembly line of efficiency, where my pals and I were nestled very carefully in the boxes. Personally, I have never looked so good, hanging out with my fun friends in a bed of fancy gold and black sizzle. Just look at the photo, it’s Instagram worthy. And then, it was time for a ride. Each box was drop shipped to a donor’s home, where they could watch the virtual event, filmed at the Usana Center of Excellence, and open their US Ski and Snowboard branded box, in which my swag friends and I made our fabulous debut. Such a thrill, knowing that donors will hang on to this custom merch forever and I will live on – on the top of a special bottle (or the head of a tiny hamster). One can only hope.