Founder Susan Mocarski gives us a look under the hood of her award-winning raingear
Cleverhood started with a simple mission: make everyone’s rainy day a little bit brighter, drier and more manageable. Providence, RI-based Founder Susan Mocarski created Cleverhood based on her own frustration finding easy-access raingear for her walks with her three dogs. Over time, however, Cleverhood found a niche helping the adaptive market better navigate outerwear with minimal struggle. Here, Mocarski talks about how her brand’s turn has been so rewarding.
What was the catalyst for Cleverhood?
I was always grabbing my husband’s oversized rain gear, because at the end of the day, I just needed to show up dry. In urban markets, we’re usually walking or biking outside, even in the rain. I saw a void in the market for fashionable raingear with technical design and fun colors, and shortly after Cleverhood launched in 2010, we started winning awards! We were a finalist for an ISPO Award in sporting goods and sportswear and won a Sassy Award for Top Small US Made Brands of 2017. Cyclists were early adopters, but we saw a larger market.
"MagnaReady founder Maura Horton showed me how Cleverhood could intersect with different types of consumers.”
How did you transition into the adaptive design world?
My initial goal was a simple profile that could be flexible to different needs. The universal design caught the attention of Open Style Lab. Designing for people with disabilities showed me how Cleverhood could intersect with different types of consumers.
You label your items "capes" rather than "ponchos". Is that by design?
There's definitely a Superman thing we tap into, without being costume-y, of course. A woman in an electric wheelchair once said to me, "You know, it's about time I felt like Superwoman!" You just feel empowered when you're out and about in the rain wearing one, and everyone else is scrambling and less protected!
What is the rainwear range?
It’s a unisex item in three height-based sizes—Short, Regular and Extra Tall—with Short being perfect for seated people. They can put the cape over a wheelchair back or they can sit on it so it’s closer to the body. There’s flexibility. The recently launched Rover is $99 and the original design Classic Cape is $249 in six colors. The front-and-back adjustable hood has a rain-protecting brim large enough to keep rain off eyeglasses. Plus, someone who has a hand on a cane or walker is better served. This is all hands free.
Especially important in the rain...
Yes, your window of opportunity to navigate clothing in the rain is definitely much smaller. As we say, ‘It’s a tougher day on a rainy day.’ Everything we design needs to be quick, efficient and smart. You don’t need to struggle with the armholes when it’s raining and miserable out. Our arm slits on the Classic Cape have magnets so they automatically close when you bring your hands back inside.
Any surprise users?
We’ve found that caregivers love Cleverhood as it helps them dress people quicker and more efficiently. You just throw it on, and you’re covered. No fidgeting or struggling. Consumers with sensory issues love our Sweatshirt Cape, a warm, cozy poncho-like hoodie.
Are you working with the adaptive market in your manufacturing at all?
We currently have a fund for street equity, to make things safer for people on bikes, in wheelchairs, etc. To land on the adaptive market has been so exciting for us, and we definitely want to make that community a priority in our manufacturing at some level going forward.