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Modular running gear that provides a storage system that adapts to changing personal running inventories with varying run types and distances.

SKILLS:

Human-Centered Design

Soft Goods Production

Business Plan Development

 

User Research

Industry + Competitive Analysis

Iterative Soft Goods Prototyping

User Testing

Design For Manufacturing

Business Model Development

Financial Projection

+ my role

Team (of 2)

TYPE:

11 weeks

TIMELINE:

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OPPORTUNITY

A demand for more adaptable running gear within the growing market of independent outdoor runners.

OUR TARGET

To provide a storage system that adapts to changing personal running inventories with varying distances, simultaneously creating an optimal fit.


In response, we created a 3-configuration modular running garment.

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A product that adapts to you, not the other way around.

OUR SOLUTION

Belt Module

lightweight and compact for the short training road runs (3-10mi)

Vest Module

increased storage capacity for medium-length runs (10-20mi)

Belt + Vest

maximum storage and hydration capacity for the long solo trail runs (20-30mi +)

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+

=

By splitting the traditional running vest into two modules, we enable multifunctionality.


THE BELT MODULE

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Layered, compact storage.


Top rim tightening can match the belt to the curvature of your spine.

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The adjustable flask holder can accommodate up to 500ml water bottles, allowing runners the flexibility to use their own bottles.

Its carefully considered diagonal angle ensures stability during movement, ergonomic access, and an unobtrusive flask.

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Double-fold pockets designed for quick-access storage: keeps items from bouncing out, but easily lifts to open.


Reflective tapes for night visibility.


THE VEST MODULE

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Balanced storage distribution eliminates the clunky feel.

Diagonal zippers to make back storage ergonomically more easy to access.

Added loops to hold running poles on the back.

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Flexible pockets:  To optimize storage space to different hydration needs, the water bottle pocket can be converted into two smaller + horizontally accessible pockets for a snug, secure fit around general items.


Put together, here is our full system in action.


This system assures comfort for females too.

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If females find the vest front uncomfortable for waterbottle storage, they can store a full size hard flask in the belt.

The soft chest adjustment strap eliminates the chafing of traditional webbing and fasciliates a more personalized fit.


We use materials that prioritize breathability, provide padding to eliminate chafing, and create support for minimal item movement. 

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Cooling 3D Spacer Mesh:  PCM Technology


Stretch Neoprene: MicroAir Technology


4 Way Stretch Peforated Mesh : Maxdri Moisture Management

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OUR CUSTOMER PROFILE: 

"I DON'T RUN, I'M A RUNNER."

We cater to the deeply passionate outdoor runners.

They run 4-6 times a week, on both road and trail, in all seasons.
Their shorter, daily training 3-8 mile long road runs lead up to longer occasional 10-30 mile long road and trail runs.

Our journey creating DA-SH began with our people. Here is how we found our customer segment.




148 runners who use gear were surveyed, and 14 in-depth interviews were conducted. 
 

UNDERSTANDING USER BEHAVIOR

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A high percentage of our surveyed runners own both a belt and a vest to match the storage needs of different run types.
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A majority of the runners who need both types of gear are those that run multiple times a week, and run longer distances.

MAPPING THEIR RUNNING JOURNEY

We then asked these more consistent runners what they carry on their different run types, to understand what kind of gear and storage capacity is required for different distances.
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OUR COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE

We also asked them about the running belts and vests they currently use and their key pain points.
Taking our market research one step further, we tried on some of the gear they mentioned at an REI ourselves.
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We recognized that...

For deeply committed outdoor runners, gear is a necessity, and they are willing to pay for high-quality products.
Those who complete long-distance runs train through more frequent shorter-distance runs. For them, the belt and vest are thus complementary products.  Their running habits ask for multifunctionality.


This sparked an idea.

What if we created a product that could singularly and optimally adapt to serve the needs of both, that too at the price point of one?


We could create high value change, with low habit change.
Here is how we developed our idea and a business plan for it.
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OUR TARGET MARKET

20M + trail runners around the world in 2023.
Source: International Trail Running Association

$373.6 M value of Running Hydration Gear Market in 2022.
Source: Grand View Hydration Backpack Market Analysis Report

Expected to expand at a growth rate of 9.9 % between 2022 to 2030, from $373.61 M to $800.52 M.

+ increasing value for outdoor sports and community post-pandemic.

+ largest in North America (38.0 % market share).

MOVEMENT ANALYSIS

To tackle the mentioned issues with jostling items and un-ergonomic storage, we set out to first identify the most stable regions of the body.

We strapped objects onto different body parts and evaluated how secure and accessible they were while running. 

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IDEATING
Within the identified stable regions, we thought through different gear and storage configurations.
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DESIGN DEVELOPMENT + TESTING
Guided by a thorough understanding of our customer's needs, market position, and our product vision, we launched into an iterative prototyping process.
 
PROTOTYPE 1:
Roughing out the fit and form, and learning key construction techniques.
Belt Horizontal Configuration
Belt Diagonal Configuration
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Vest Fit Tests
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We moved forward with the diagonal waterbottle pocket because it lent greater stability and made it easier to remove + put back the waterbottle while running.
PROTOTYPE 2:
Adding in functionality to test balance, stability, material comfort, and pocket accessibility while running.
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Snapshots from user testing with our customer segment at Rhode Runners.
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This prototype was the result of extensive experimentation with patterns, construction methods, order of operations, and material layering.
Here are the main challenges our users brought up during testing:

01

Make storage more accessible while running.

​For quick-access pockets on the front, we switched from zippers to a double-fold pocket style where an extended flap switched down from the sides securely keeps items from bouncing out, but can easily lift to open.

We also added pull tabs to pockets on the back.

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02

Improve vest adjustment system for greater stability.

We switched the single-point button closure on the chest strap with a velcro strip for greater flexibility in fit.

We also exchanged the webbing straps with drawstrings that are sewn into the bottom seam of the vest for a tighter fit, and used more lightweight hardware.

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03

Provide more flexible storage configurations.
We expanded the size of the belt phone pocket (behind the water bottle) to fit additional items and larger phones.

We also added a drawstring around the mouth of the water bottle holder to ensure a tight fit for various water bottle sizes.
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PROTOTYPE 3:
Our final design, up to the test.
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What our users say:


I really like the modular feature. I’m always looking for more freedom to customize my gear.



The belt fits perfectly and is really stable, even when such a big bottle is full.



Even with my phone in, it doesn’t feel heavy. It’s balanced.



My arms hit the bottle on other belts when I’m running, that doesn’t happen here.

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MANAGEMENT SUMMARY:
HOW WILL WE TAKE THIS TO MARKET?
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MARKETING PLAN:
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Our marketing strategy highlights not just what DA-SH does, but why we do it : 

Our social media strategy leverages running community leaders known for their discipline, passion, and credible product reviews to build our brand value.

Once our customer acquisition cost reduces, we can consider local, and eventually larger event sponsorship, to further foster running community bonds.



 
MANUFACTURING:
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Snippets from our tech pack.
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FINANCIAL PLAN:
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We will operate in a hybrid D2C and Wholesale model.
Wholesale will facilitate customer acquisition by building brand trust and quicker brand publicity.
However, D2C will allow us to keep a healthy margin. Selling through the brand's own platform also reinforces DA-SH's identity.

As a result, we gradually shift fr
om a higher ratio of Wholesale in Year 1 to greater D2C in Year 5.
In Year 3, we also plan to introduce a second running accessory ( Product 2 / P2 ) for our road + trail running community.
Our retail price is $130, and our wholesale price is $70. 
Here is a more detailed breakdown of our costs and operations.
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With this business model, we project to grow from a $440,000 to $12,520,000 business with a 54.8% profit margin by Year 5.
WHAT'S NEXT ?
1. Build relationships with the factory ( Maxport, Vietnam) and our fabric + hardware suppliers

2.Make production sample and request quote

3.Crowdfund for Y1 batch of goods on community based platforms like Kickstarter and StartEngine
Y1 Crowdfunding Requirement : $338,130
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