06 Aug 2010|cfinlay

“There were three little kids, around 11 years old, just staring at me as I got on the plane,” my fiancée said as I picked her up at the airport. “It was crazy, they just stared at me the whole way down the aisle. Then I realized they were looking at my Silly Bandz.” My hand immediately slapped my forehead as I realize my fiancée was wearing bracelets meant to feed the crazed collecting appetites of 11 year olds. Apparently the mere glimpse of Silly Bandz was like blood in the water for the kids on the plane. Come to find out, they were quite the hit at my fiancée’s bachelorette party – clearly a wild event.

This incident is a reminder of just how much kids and adults share when it comes to the passion of play, community, and delight. I expected teenage girls, even into college, to be all over the trend but I have seen much older moms wearing them. I have read about them being banned at school for disrupting class – apparently there are some regrettable trades that need some adjudication. And now the trend has come home to the household with no kids. A household that has many much nicer jewelry options to choose from.

Apparently a pack of 24 Silly Bandz costs consumers about $5 and cost a nickel to produce. Brainchild Products founder Robert J. Croak says he has sold millions. Millions times $5 is a nice number for a small company. The success has pushed him to rapidly ramp up his workforce from 20 to 70 employees in a year and increased his distribution network to 18,000 stores. The thing is, these are not new. They have been around since 2002 as a rubber band, but Croak saw an opportunity to make them into more: a fashion statement. He increased the heft and repackaged them into a toy, a toy that I now expect to be featured prominently in a Lady GaGa video. Actually, that is probably the only thing she will be wearing – thousands of Silly Bandz. Maybe Galliano will put them in a show.
This is very much in line with the trend of parents acting like their teens by wearing the same clothes, reading the same books (Twilight) and now opting into the Silly Bandz craze. Perhaps the “Live Strong” bracelets were the gateway accessories but the slimmed down and dynamic Silly Bandz are the real deal. Nailing those trends is a huge deal but capitalizing on the exposure and buyer network for a next best seller is an even bigger deal. Brainchild Products claims to have a pipeline stuffed with ideas but producing another hit is the true test of the company. And it won’t be easy since that generation gap that makes trends last, closes in unpredictable ways. Who could forecast adults and children coming together over the simple joy of a piece of stretchy plastic? The madness over them seems, ahem, silly.
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