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New Way to Capitalize on Occupy Wall Street: Fleece Outerwear

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PEAS IN A POD
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Since it began in October, Occupy Wall Street, the movement against, among others, acts of corporatism like bailouts for big businesses like Goldman Sachs (GS), Citigroup (C), Bank of America (BAC), Morgan Stanley (MS), JP Morgan (JPM), AIG (AIG) and Wells Fargo (WFC), has consistently resisted being labeled or branded with specific messages or demands. Nonetheless, that has not stopped savvy businessmen from coming up with Occupy-themed merchandise, complete with catchy slogans like "We are the 99%."
 
There was, for example, Jay-Z’s "Occupy All Streets" t-shirt, which garnered the ire of protesters after it was discovered that Rocawear, the rapper’s company which produced the shirts, did not plan to donate earnings from t-shirt sales to the cause.
 
Of course, many entrepreneurs do profess support for the cause. Ray Agrinzone, who launched theoccupystore.com in November, said 10% of his profits will go to Occupy organizers.
 
Most of the Occupy-related merchandise that has cropped up have been the usual stuff like T-shirts, hoodies and caps, but two young architects from Kansas have come up with a unique item of clothing that serves both functional and symbolic purposes.
 
The duo have created what they call "PeaPods," which are fleece throws that comes with snap fasterners that allow you to "link up" with other PeaPod wearers.


PeaPods being worn at an athletic event at Kansas State University
 
“The PeaPods stemmed from the idea of the physical connection being lost in today's society thanks to Facebook, Twitter, etc. We understand that these are great tools of communication but we feel as if they are also taking away those more intimate connections society was once having. We wanted to invent something that got back to this,” explained Nick Young, who, together with his business partner James Parker, designed the piece of clothing last year whilst in their final year at Kansas State University.
 
As the Occupy protests, with its message of solidarity, unfolded in the past few months, Young and Parker realized that the PeaPod, with its intent of creating a literal connection between people, would serve the needs of the movement perfectly.
 
“We identified with the Occupy Movement for a couple different reasons. In our eyes we saw the Occupiers simply as a group that could use a new, exciting way to connect and stay warm. We also saw the Occupy Movement as a great place to utilize the full potential of this idea of 'linking-up.' Imagine 100 people of the Movement linked marching towards Washington! This is our dream to see,” Young enthused.
 

James Parker and Nick Young with a display of PeaPods

Unlike Jay-Z and Ray Agrinzone, Young and Parker are not seeking profits in marketing their PeaPods to the Occupy movement. Through meetings with GTM, a Kansan sports apparel company, the duo have found a contact who will be able to produce the PeaPods for them, but only if they can meet the minimum order requirement of 500.
 
Thus, the duo, who currently produces the Peapods themselves, is seeking donation pledges on independent funding platform Kickstarter.com to come up with the money needed for the mass production of their product. If Young and Parker receive $7,500 in pledges by Jan. 1 -- they are currently at $651, so there’s still a ways to go with time running out -- they will donate 50 of their communal fleece outerwear to the Occupy Wall Street organizers.
                                
Besides the fact that the Manhattan, Kansas natives are running out of time in their fundraising efforts, there’s also another unexpected hiccup. As we reported last week, after being evicted from Zucotti Park, protestors had planned to retake lower Manhattan by occupying Duarte Square at Canal and Varick Streets last Saturday. Their efforts, however, were thwarted by the NYPD, and according to Mother Jones, organizers said that that was likely to be their occupation attempt until the spring.
 
Of course, the bitter cold of winter could be the sole reason Occupy protesters, voted Time’s Person of the Year, have decided to halt all occupations until the weather warms up again. If so, then perhaps a PeaPod or two might change their minds.

(See also: Occupy Wall Street to Take Over Lower Manhattan Once Again & Steve Jobs Snubbed as TIME Magazine Announces Its Person of the Year)
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.

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