Fashion Meets Function

By Madoline Markham

April Mraz and Cherie Stine don’t think fashion and tech have to be mutually exclusive. It was their desire to combine style and function for iPhone cases that  led them to start Tech Candy in 2009, and their products’ aesthetic continues to be a distinguishing factor in the market. The user they design for is decidedly female.

“We keep our finger on the pulse on tech and gift and fashion worlds,” Mraz says. “All three are essential to the product development process.”

Their design inspirations come straight from New York Fashion Week and Pantone colors of the year. From what they see on the runway and textile design, they distill trend information into the basis for a handful of patterns. They then test the patterns in the marketplace to see how they resonate with the consumer before moving into production.

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Since releasing their first case designs, they have focused on iPhone and dropped iPad products, and as the iPhone case market became more saturated, they diversified their offerings, adding lines of accessories with approaches unique to Tech Candy.

When it came to designing the Dry Spell, one of their best-selling products, they took a product that was already in the marketplace, a waterproof case, and added a pocket of air around it so that the case would float too. The case has applications for skiing and water sports in addition to the usual lake and beach use. “We have been amazed by the sales for this product,” Mraz says.

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Speaking of accessories, Tech Candy’s ear bud necklaces marry jewelry and tech with a set of semi-precious gemstones in a design that Mraz says she hasn’t seen anything like. “Wearable tech is so up and coming,” she says. “We set out to make something that looks like a piece of jewelry and not like a piece of tech made to look like a piece of jewelry.”

All the designs are created in Tech Candy’s home office in Mt Laurel, where Mraz, Oliver, and a few other staff members are based. They originally fulfilled all of their orders out of their small warehouse in Birmingham, but as they grew, they outsourced production to Indianapolis. More than 50 sales representatives around the country are “out pounding the pavement” to get their products in the hands of women who want well-designed accessories for their phones.

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“We are unique in the tech accessory world because we come from a gift background,” Mraz says. “We are high trend, not just high tech.” Accordingly, the company primarily sells its products to gift stores for retail sales. You can find them locally at Snoozy’s, as well as at national stores like Nordstrom Rack and Books-A-Million, another Birmingham-based store.

To learn more or shop, visit techcandycases.com

Tech Candy Cases are designed to be “grippy, not slippy,” offering strength and protection along with style. The cases also provide clear access to all ports, buttons, and functions. This Love Bird Case Set features a silicone inner wrap paired with an outer shell in a coordinating color.

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Dry Spell Water Defender Bags protect phones and tablets from water, snow, sand, and sticky fingers. Plus, the bag floats. Locks secure the device inside the protective cover, and a clear window allows you to still text or take photos.

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Earbud Necklaces are just that: a strand of gemstone beads that double as earbuds. An in-line mic allows you to take calls from your phone without removing your headphones, and to play audio without touching your phone.

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Dynamic Duo MFi Certified USB Cables enable you to both sync and charge your phone at the same time. With a length of 6 feet, they can reach hard-to-access outlets behind your bed or under a side table, and they’re available in your choice of colors.