Mompreneur Holly Bartman never expected to find herself running a $3 million-a-year business.
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“My son wanted a superhero party, but didn’t want licensed superheroes [like Batman or Superman]. So, I made capes for all of the kids … probably ten kids,” says Bartman, recalling her son Owen’s birthday in 2006.
The mother of two, who calls herself “crafty by nature,” was taken aback by the response to the homemade capes.
“One of his buddies’ moms said you should make these and sell them. I sold a few … bought a little more fabric, and it snowballed,” says Bartman, who worked as a special education teacher before becoming a stay-at-home mom.
But it wasn’t until three years later, in 2009, that Bartman really started to invest in the business that would become Superfly Kids.
“My husband pushed me to get a little studio and go somewhere else to work. His hope was I wouldn’t work at it so much … but I still managed to do that. I was bringing stuff home and working on it every second,” says Bartman, who started selling the capes on Etsy and at local craft shows.
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The made-in-America capes, which retail for between $19.99 and $24.99, have always been a hit with the elementary-school set. But, perhaps surprisingly, Superfly Kids’ capes have also become popular with major corporations from Old Navy to Taco Bell, says Bartman.
“We screenprinted thousands for Old Navy – 3,000 to 5,000,” says Bartman. “They use them for corporate events. Old Navy has a ‘super’ sale, and employees wear them.”
The diverse customer base has propelled Superfly Kids to success. From 2009 to 2012, Superfly Kids reported revenue growth of 1,893%, landing the company on the Inc. 5,000 list.
But it hasn’t all been fun and games. Bartman says the pressure of running a quickly growing business has more or less forced her to become Super-Mom.
“You don’t sleep -- I don’t sleep,” says Bartman. “I think you need to be completely flexible on both ends and have an extremely flexible spouse that is willing to take the kids and do the things I would normally do.”
But while Superfly Kids makes Bartman’s free time scarce, her kids couldn’t be prouder.
“My daughter says, ‘My mom’s a business owner who makes superhero capes.’ It’s great to hear them brag about the business, because I don’t, so to hear them talk about it is really cool,” says Bartman.