Last week the Riding Jacket was in Providence, Rhode Island, home to Susan Mocarski and her company: Cleverhood. Susan is a huge source of inspiration for me with her pioneering work in biking and lifestyle gear. Susan knocks down the weather barriers to sustainable urban living by bike and by foot with her innovative, high quality, poncho. (If you missed my review of the Cleverhood you can check it out here under product reviews.) Susan aimed high with her vision. In addition to imagining a stylish poncho that would revolutionize urban outerwear, Susan aspired to work locally establishing Cleverhood alongside Providence, Rhode Island’s nearly century old manufacturing industries.
 
As someone who has thought up an innovative and “out of the box thinking” product concept, I marvel at how completely different Cleverhood is and yet how perfectly executed each detail on each piece is both with respect to the materials and the manufacturing. As you might imagine, there is a fair amount of rigidity in manufacturing and supply chains. In most cases our hardworking, dependable, detail oriented partners are not jumping up and down saying, “Yes please come in here and ask for something totally different, that disrupts our typical operations and then ask us for patience while you grow.” Yeah. Not so. And yet Susan had to start somewhere and was able to build a beautiful and totally novel product that is currently being enjoyed by people in more than 30 countries.
 
This sort of work requires extreme perseverance and determination. For example, when Susan first inquired with a well-known fabric resource to track down the unique fabric she had envisioned for Cleverhood, he told her, “No can do.” And yet that didn’t stop her. She was able to make that material and today she uses the completely novel material of her imagination for her products.
 
Susan introduces this way of rethinking the status quo in all aspects of her business. Competition and secrecy have been standard practice in apparel: Keep your manufacturers and suppliers secret or someone will steal your idea, or overburden your factories and suppliers until you NEVER again are able to produce with them. Nope, Susan lays it all out there. This busy lady with her hugely successful company gave me 1.5 hours of phone time to help out in any way she could. Here who’s she’s worked with, here are her shipping secrets, don’t loose sleep over XYZ, and here’s who would love your product. Her creative business imagination is limitless. Her energy and excitement for completely novel ways of getting products out there in fun and exciting ways was super fun to play along with. Indeed, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Riding Jacket was her creative genius.
 
Thank you, Susan for your amazing work creating something fresh and exciting that pushes us to get outside and feel our connection with the world. 

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