Peekaboos Ponytail Hats crowdfunding to bring production to U.S.

Germantown firm wants to create jobs here

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:04 pm

Peekaboos Ponytail Hats are cable knit winter hats with a couple of hidden openings in the back for a ponytail to stick out.

A Peekaboos Ponytail Hat.

Invented by Danica Lause after a knitting project went “wrong” in 2003, by 2007 she had established D. Moss LLC to make the hats. Lause knitted them by hand at first, but eventually her fingers went numb and in 2012 she needed to move production to Asia to meet demand.

The small business, which has two full-time employees, has had the hats manufactured in China, South America, Europe and other overseas locales, but regularly ran into problems with quality, Lause said.

“We’re really done making them in China. Because of the quality problems, I’m trying to move it here,” she said. “The hats were reliant on a lot of handwork, being almost fully handmade, and so I conquered the idea of having us move to a 3D knitting machine.”

She was making up to 9,000 hats and scarves in a variety of colors per year, but could have sold 50 percent more, Lause said.

“Every year I would sell out of 80 percent of my colors and that was with a lot of sales left on the table that I couldn’t take,” she said.

Lause worked with engineers for years to code a program that could 3D knit the hats with the openings (two of them, for either a high or low ponytail), which is difficult to do on a machine.

Since there are few textile manufacturers in the U.S. anymore, Lause plans to bring production in-house at the company’s 2,500-square-foot facility in Germantown. She’s launched a Kickstarter to raise $82,000 for the first production run.

D. Moss has obtained a 3D knitting machine, but will also need some cutting, sewing, steaming and assembly equipment, as well as a large volume of raw materials to make it cost efficient. Lause plans to make up to 5,000 hats in the first run, depending on the number of Kickstarter donations in return for a hat.

At first, Lause would create two part-time production jobs. But eventually, she dreams of creating many production positions.

“I envision a knitting company that’s a parent company that can create home goods and blankets, you name it, baby clothes…that is rare to find in the United States,” Lause said. “And I envision being able to create hundreds of jobs. I feel a needed change in our consumption habits as a society and even though I’m making a consumer good, it’s less about quantity and more about something good and quality.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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