Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

June 9, 2013

Laces of the rainbow

Entrepreneurs adds fun color to shoelaces


Associated Press

CHARLESTON —  Marc Rigsby is an idea person, the kind of guy who enjoys sitting around and brainstorming business plans.

He has lots of them and this year decided to launch one he believes will appeal to guys like him who like to dress well and add a little fun to their daily wardrobes.

“In one of my brainstorming sessions, I was wondering what had been done and what had not been done — and I came up with shoelaces,” he said. Brightly colored shoelaces. For dress shoes.

“My philosophy is a more traditional outfit with a subtle tweak,” said Rigsby, 26.

It’s the kind of detail he liked even in high school, when he would add a pink pocket square to a black suit.

Crayon Lacing takes that idea to shoes. Colorful dress shoelaces in six colors and two styles are just the things to dress up wingtips, Rigsby believes.

“It’s subtle, but it adds a big impact.”

His job as an attorney for Pullen Fowler Flanagan Brown & Poe in Charleston calls for fairly conservative dress, but no one is going to raise eyebrows if he adds red laces to his wingtip shoes. A native of Virginia who attended law school at North Carolina’s Wake Forest University, Rigsby realized he had a passion for entrepreneurship during a sales class.

He was paired with classmate Bennett Rainey for a project on virtual sales and the two did more than was required.

“We were supposed to do a PowerPoint presentation, and we made a documentary-style DVD,” Rigsby said. “Our professor was very impressed, and Bennett and I enjoyed collaborating.”

The two became friends, even as Rigsby moved to West Virginia and Rainey stayed in Winston-Salem.

“I told him about the idea one day in 2012. Bennett’s into fashion, too, and he loved the idea,” Rigsby said.

Of course, both were busy beginning law careers and Rigsby was busy with his love life. He was engaged to Shayla Miller last year, and they’ve been busy planning their August wedding. Miller, who has an undergraduate degree in public relations, recently graduated law school and works for Pullen Fowler.

Rigsby and Rainey agreed to partner on the idea and began researching. Miller connected them to a WVU professor whose class helped develop logo and packaging ideas.

Rigsby and Rainey visited a shoelace manufacturer in Hickory, N.C., that is one of the largest in the United States.

“They were very kind and gave us a tour,” Rigsby said. Ultimately, the two decided to turn overseas for manufacturing because they could not find a U.S. company that could produce the range of colors they desired or customized details such as two black stripes on the plastic tips of the laces. The website alibaba.com helped them narrow their choices. The website operates as a portal to connect people to manufacturing sources worldwide.

“It’s kind of like a network,” Rigsby said. They eventually found a Chinese company that could produce laces in virtually any color of the Pantone color wheel, was willing to customize the tips of the laces and could produce batches as small as 500 pairs in one color.

The final logo is the letter C with an L looped through it like a lace.

Next up, Rigsby and Rainey decided on colors. The laces are made in two styles appropriate for dress shoes, waxed round and flat in 76 mm lengths that work for men’s and women’s shoes.

Laces come in packages of three. The flat laces come in red, blue and green and retail for $24.95, and the round laces come in yellow, teal and coral and retail for $19.95.

The company will add colors as the business grows, and Rigsby envisions being able to make sample-sized orders that could be used for special events, such as weddings.

The investment so far has been less than $6,000, modest as business investments go. They recently became available at Tony the Tailor’s Hale Street shop and soon will be sold at Serendipity, a Parkersburg wedding shop.

Tony the Tailor’s owner Tony Paranzino said when Rigsby visited him to suggest he carry the laces, he realized they were a perfect addition to his shoe line.

“These are a nice add-on,” Paranzino said.

He has encouraged Rigsby to pursue more ideas. Rigsby said he’s always wanted to venture into a line of shoes and recently has been thinking about decorative collar bars.

“I have a couple more ideas I’m sitting on,” he said.

He’ll be able to make use of his own product for his August wedding.

“Our colors are coral and navy,” he said.

For more information, visit www.crayonlacing.com.