Steamboat Springs Arthur Jaffee and Trace Adams’ business venture began over drinks after the Fourth of July. The idea swirled around in their heads for another month before they sat down together in August and made it a reality.
Even now, the pair can't quite believe their entrepreneurship centers on temporary mustache tattoos.
“Neither of us ever, ever thought we’d be doing temporary mustache tattoos,” said Adams, who graduated from Steamboat Springs High School in 2005.
But the idea made sense. Jaffee and Adams met at the University of Colorado Boulder, becoming fast friends as walk-ons to the football team.
Adams, who graduated CU in 2009, and Jaffee, a 2011 graduate, spent countless hours together lifting weights, practicing and running scout teams. Discussions didn’t always involve football, and as the two progressed through school, it became clear they eventually would go into business together.
“We thought it was one of those simple concepts that could catch on,” Jaffee said. “That’s when it clicked. More and more ideas came. There were unlimited markets to tap into. It’s a fun item, so why not?”
The two, along with operations manager Josh Tremellen, formed StacheTats — temporary tattoos in the shapes of mustaches. The two, being former athletes and fresh out of the college environment, immediately saw a market for the temporary tattoos to incorporate logos.
By October, the two were licensed with the Collegiate Licensing Company, allowing them to talk to individual schools to license their brand on fake mustache tattoos.
Currently the company makes mustache tattoos with logos from the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, University of Wyoming and Air Force Academy, among others.
It also sells tattoos with various designs incorporating the Texas and Colorado state flags, as well as other unique designs.
“It just kind of happened and developed,” Jaffee said. “We realized the simplicity behind it.”
The two debuted the product Oct. 11 at the Colorado-Arizona State football game. They were able to get the mustaches in stores and handed out free samples leading up to the nationally televised game.
They then moved the business to Tempe, Ariz., which is closer to their Tucson-based manufacturer. They rented a 4,000-square-foot warehouse and went to work.
As a small startup, the two did everything themselves. They designed a website and the mustaches, developed the packaging and even stuffed the packages themselves.
“Literally,” Adams said, “we do everything.”
It hasn’t been all easy. Adams and Jaffee lived in the warehouse space while starting up the business. The space, while big and what they needed, doesn’t have running water.
“For nine weeks, straight we lived in a warehouse,” Adams said. “I can’t tell you how many all-nighters I pulled.”
But it seems to have paid off. In addition to licensing agreements with several schools, the two are working at getting in several big box stores. They are already in Walgreens in Arizona and are featured in many other shops. Online sales also are strong. Locally, they are available at Allen's Clothing and Fuzziwig's Candy Factory.
The next goal is to get licenses from the NFL and NASCAR. First, they have to be able to prove certain sales thresholds.
“We’ve made strides and moved faster than we expected,” Adams said. “But with every startup, there is trial and error. But right now, we’re in a really good spot.”
For more information or to purchase StacheTats, click here.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com