Monday, December 10, 2012

Spotlight on Mom: Pat Calanca of ShirtWhiz


This is the second Spotlight Mom that I have featured who along with their sons have come up with a novel product, and then turned that idea into a family business.  It is always nice to see families running a business together, especially when you get your children involved.  With that being said, I would love to introduce you all to Pat Calanca of ShirtWhiz (also a fellow CT resident like myself).  What is the ShirtWhiz you ask?  Well, if you are a sports fan and love collecting and displaying jerseys, or have a child on various sports time in school, then you will want to get the ShirtWhiz.    The ShirtWhiz is a hanger that displays these precious jerseys for all to see and admire.  Here is a quick video that share more about this invention and how it works.

Make sure you head back here on Friday , when I will share more about the ShirtWhiz, as I was sent a sample to review, as well as offer readers a chance to win one and share with the sports fan in their life.  But, in the meantime, please enjoy my Spotlight on Mom post with Pat Calanca of ShirtWhiz.

Name:  Pat Calanca
Company Name/Product/Service: ShirtWhiz
Company Location: CT
Company Website:
Facebook URL:
Twitter Handle: @
Age of Company:  less than one year!
Favorite Book: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

shirtwhiz jersey display founders

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? 

I have two boys, who are now "men" actually- ages 22 and 25.  I am sort of out of hobbies since starting this business, unless you count packing boxes as a new hobby (I am getting very good at this!).

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about? 

My boys are athletes and had sports jerseys and t-shirts from the sports teams they played on, from youth league thru high school.  And, they also collected sports jerseys from their favorite pro teams.  They tried to decorate their rooms with the jerseys and shirts using hangers, duct tape and push pins, which looked generally awful and wasn't very good for the garments.  I looked for something to hang these jerseys and tshirts on their walls that was attractive, affordable and easy, and there was no such thing.  So, long story short, I invented ShirtWhiz!  Easiest way to understand it is to see the video on our website, but it is an adjustable wall unit display that the user can shape to fit any size and style jersey or tshirt and hang on any wall- no tools required!

What is a typical work day like? 

Get up, look for orders, pack and deliver to shippers.  Do this all day long actually, right up until I go to bed!  And in between, sell!

What has been a struggle while starting up your company?  

Getting comfortable with money flying out the door while none is coming in at the very beginning.  Sort of a leap of faith.  Once sales start to come in and money follows, it is much easier to sleep at night.  Second struggle was that I have no manufacturing experience, so had to learn as I went. However, what has been super lucky for me is that I have found GREAT people along the way to both work with and to coach me.  Can't stress enough how important that has been, particularly in areas which were new to me. 

What did you do in your past work life? 

I had a successful corporate career, finishing up as President of Reed Exhibitions in North America.  But, my career was in business to business intangible sales, and what I'm doing now is manufacturing product that is sold to consumers- a WHOLE different world!

What have been some of your major successes? 

ShirtWhiz received a utility patent, also received a finalist award for design and innovation from an important trade association, and in just three months of selling we have sold over 1,000 units!  Good stuff.

What have been some of your major challenges?  

Not personalizing the rejection that comes in sales, not freaking out about money flying out the door.

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going? 

The sales victories!  We are selling every day and our customers love their ShirtWhiz!  We get emails and pictures from them, and now are getting repeat orders. The sound of packing tape is my favorite music these days as it means we sold a ShirtWhiz.  I'm really proud of our product.  

What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?  

Right now I'm not too balanced, it is very early in my start up so I'm pretty consumed by it.  But my boys and husband are right there to help pack and lift boxes, and they are very nice about the fact that the dinners I'm making are not too fancy.....!

What is next for your business?  

In 2013 I am hoping to place ShirtWhiz in some retail stores; we have been placed in some catalogues and I would like to see us in retail as well. 

Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business? 

If you know there is a market for what you have created, keep at it.  Approach smart people you know for advice- they will be happy to talk to you, trust me.  Take it in baby steps so you don't overwhelm yourself.  Go to a tradeshow and pitch your product to the people there, it is the best way to get live feedback on your product, pricing and approach.

1 comment :

  1. This product is such a great idea for a boys room or even the man cave.
    heather [email protected]