Brett Myers on Tuesday, Jun. 21st
Zach Crain is the face of Freaker, and I can’t imagine a more perfect face for the hipster DIY knitted bottle koozie company that just rocked a Kickstarter campaign, surpassing their $48,500 goal by more than 14K.
“Chicky boom boom. My name’s Zach.” That’s how Crain starts the freaking amazing promotional video posted above. Then he begins complimenting the viewer. “I love your hair. I love your new shoes. Are those new shoes because they’re so shiny…” While I know its all flummery – I mean it’s not like he can see me — it feels good that Crain is saying nice things about me. He seems truly genuine. Then for the best quote ever. “Your hair is like beautiful fire.” Oh S#*t, you had me at “Your hair is like beautiful fire!” I’ll take three Freakers please – whatever they are – because this guy is awesome.
Freaker is a better looking, better performing beer koozie. In fact, the knitted insulation sock fits over everything from beer cans and bottles to huge jugs of juice, and the designs as diverse as the use. Goofy foam koozies emblazoned with promotional whatnot have never appealed to me, in part because I drink all liquids at a break-throat pace, but I could imagine wrapping a pilsner in one of these things for a post work dog walk, so as to avoid salty words and raised eye brows from conservative neighbors. And when it comes to promotional materials like this insanely loveable Freaker coach vid or this clever attempt to land an appearance on the TV show Ellen, the Freaker folks reign supreme.
Crain invented the Freaker after joining a stitch-and-bitch in Wilmington, NC. The creation came after road tripping the country in a Geo Metro clad in indoor/outdoor carpeting, outfitted with curtains, homemade shelves complete with a coffee maker, and a lie-flat bed (photo left). He says his early one-man promotion attempts never got much traction, describing marketing 1.0 as pretty mundane and informational. Things began catching fire when Crain partnered with four friends. “We all had this fun vibe about us,” he said, summarizing their marketing strategy as, “We just have to do cool shit and make people inquire about us.”
The group began brainstorming about product names, first trying to invent a completely new word like Orea or Zinga, but Crain said, “No matter what you say when you first say a new word, it sounds stupid.” A friend of his had been using “freaker” as a catchall phrase, which Crain said he found annoying. Then a week later, he succumbed to using the word, and only then did he realize its potential awesomeness.
When I spoke to Crain by phone, he had just returned from a trip to the hosiery mill in Troy, NC where he set up the first run of five Freaker designs. When asked how many units they were manufacturing, he said, “We’re just going to get a bunch made, something like 20,000.” The husband and wife team who own the mill let Crain and his business partner toss out bedrolls and spend the night sleeping on the floor of the mill. “Like right now we’re probably like a pain in their butt,” said Crain of his relationship with the mill owners, “but they don’t really care because they’ve been making socks for a long time.”
Crain said people are always asking if he and his colleagues have a business plan. They don’t. Some folks have even tried to write one for them, and Crain said, “I’m like no. Stop!” He says the company is about having fun. “We’re real chill about it,” said Crain. For me, that’s what makes the company so damn cool. They have a great product. They take chances trying to make me laugh while marketing that product. Too much over thinking could kill the whole thing.
Crain is great on camera, and it’s likely you will be seeing more of him. Producers from ABC’s Shark Tank have shown interest in featuring the Freaker, and Crain says he’s spoken to people who know people at the Ellen Degeneres Show, and he feels hopeful that he might be getting freaky with Degeneres sometime soon. And if you’re one of the lucky 954 residents of Republic, Washington, Crain and Freaker posse are planning a trip your way for a grilled cheese box truck party, in appreciation of the $3,000 the town raised to support the Kickstarter campaign. I like grilled cheese.
If the Freaker looks good to your eye grapes, they’re available for sale here.