Tinsel: Headphones that make you LOOK good!
For many, picking an outfit out for the day is a sacred routine worth taking pride in. How you look impacts how you feel, right? But not even the most talented of fashionistas can hide a bulky pair of Beats or make that white, rubber iPhone cord look stylish. All of that hard work you put in to showcase your wardrobe is instantly overshadowed by those ugly and obvious headphones.
Fortunately, an entrepreneur in the Bay Area decided she was done dealing with this problem. Founded in September 2014 by Aniyia Williams, San Francisco-based Tinsel is beautifying the wearable tech space with a pair of headphones that doubles as a necklace for women who want to listen to music in style.
“Create electronics that allow women to enjoy tech without sacrificing their style”
– Tinsel’s Mission
Tinsel’s cornerstone product is The Dipper, an audio necklace designed for women, by women. The necklace replaces never-fashionable rubber cords with lightweight metals, a look that is meant to compliment style, not kill it. At all times, The Dipper is a bold piece of jewelry that can provide a high-quality listening experience without taking away from a carefully curated outfit. When the wearer wants to listen to music, she simply has to open up the body of the necklace to reveal two earbuds and pull the input jack out of the small casing that sits on the back of the neck. The Dipper also has a two-way microphone so wearers can take phone calls and summon Siri without ever having to dig around for a loose pair of headphones in pockets or purses in order to take a call on the move.
Tinsel first launched The Dipper on Indiegogo with the goal of raising $50k. By the end of the company’s October 2016 campaign, the product had raised $55k with a $150 list price, thereby giving Aniyia Williams the affirmation she needed to move forward and mass produce the audio necklace. Today, The Dipper comes in two different styles, gold and gunmetal, and can be purchased for $199 on the company’s website. Although future plans include expanding the suite of wearable tech products and launching new collections with changing fashion seasons, Tinsel is currently focused on creating an incredible experience with The Dipper for those in the U.S. and Canada. At this time, no charging or syncing is needed with the audio necklace as it does not come with activity tracking or bluetooth capabilities. However, these features may not be far off for the fast growing company.
“Transforming Tech Essentials Into Fashion Accessories”
– Tinsel’s Website
Tinsel was founded by former Voxer marketing lead, Aniyia Williams, who decided to take matters into her own hands when she couldn’t find a pair of headphones that looked good with intentionally planned outfits. On top of that, she wanted to address other common headphone-related pain points and design something that wasn’t easily tangled or lost.
“I wanted to take something that people know is a necessity today and transform it into something stylish that also makes their lives easier,” says Williams.
While still at Voxer, Williams, asked the company’s lead, Tom Katis, if he thought there would be a market for an audio necklace that blended style and utility. Katis was convinced by Williams’ pitch and agreed to invest as well as connect her with the right team of people who could help bring the idea to life. This support was crucial to Tinsel’s beginnings as Williams has faced her fair share of challenges in securing funding for her business. As an African American female entrepreneur in San Francisco, Williams stands out in a culture that is dominated by white males. To add to the challenge, Williams also found out she was pregnant while trying to raise capital.
Since the early beginnings, Williams has been supported by co-founder, Monia Santinello, who can speak six languages and has been instrumental in building international relationships to negotiating the company’s overseas product development. Outside of Tinsel, Williams helped found the Black and Brown Funders Project, a two-day event that helps minority founders gain access to important tools, support, and networks outside of traditional venture capital funding. Williams was also a resident in Google’s Code2040 program which helped black and latino/a founders elevate their existing businesses before getting sunsetted.
Uniting Technology & Fashion
Every day, new wearable technology hits the market that allows us to track our activity, stay connected to the digital world, and enhance day-to-day activity. But it is not often that these devices can be worn discreetly or even compliment how we look. Williams realized she wanted something that didn’t exist and correctly assumed that thousands of others would feel the same way.
With this Untold story, we are fortunate to see every step that Williams took to fill an obvious need. Williams identified a problem, developed a solution, received mass validation via Indiegogo, and then followed through with a product that perfectly fulfills the original need. If you think you have a great idea, there are many ways you can seek validation or contradiction. Pitch it to those you whose business acumen you trust or take it to a crowdfunding platform and let the masses offer feedback. Without investing too much time or money, you can quickly learn whether or not you have an idea worth pursuing. Why wait? Start sending feelers out today and if you are in need of new pair of styling headphones check out Tinsel’s site here!