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A Conversation With ... Arianna Russell

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What makes Bodacious Cases unique?
Our cases aren’t just an iPhone case; they are your emergency case. They have a credit card slot on the back [that] holds two cards and an ID or business cards. If you open the case, it has a screen protector in the front and a spot in the back to hide emergency cash. It also has a screen protector in the back to protect from card scratches and dirt, dust and water.

We’ve sold 6,000 since launching in 2012. We are in some stores, but not locally. The majority of our sales are online. We have over 100 stores who want to carry our product, but you don’t take money from a retailer without the product in hand. We have to build up our supplies first.

Your product is 100 percent made in America. Why is that important to you?
One of the main reasons is my dad is a double Purple Heart Vietnam veteran. For me to go overseas, it’s a way of betraying everyone who fought for our country and died for our freedoms. Other companies do it, but I don’t. I disagree with it, but nothing against them. It’s personal for me. I would rather make less money and do that right thing, than make a few extra dollars and maybe lose jobs.

Is there a big price differential manufacturing the cases stateside?
The price difference is phenomenal. For one case style – like the iPhone 5 – a single injection mold costs $75,000. That doesn’t include the coloring, the packaging, anything else needed. Each individual case has a different injection mold – iPhone 4, iPhone 5, etc. Overseas, I can get the same mold made for under $20,000. It’s hard, very hard.

It costs between $10 and $15 for me to manufacture a single case now. We have a one-mold operation right now [for three iPhone models]. We hope to move up to a four-case mold next time, enabling four to come out at once.

It’s really frustrating when my own country wouldn’t help me, but the Chinese would. China is like, “I can do. I can do.” No matter what it is, they will figure out a way to make it happen. I think that logic should be reversed. We should have that can-do attitude here.

How did you end up using Nixa-based Accurate Plastics to manufacture the case?
When I first launched the company, they were the first manufacturer I wanted to deal with because they are in the same county as our headquarters. They said because we were small, they didn’t think I would make it. I was talking to them before I had the mold in place and things were still up in the air. I went to a St. Louis manufacturer and a company in Arkansas and neither worked out, but I had my mold now. I approached Accurate Plastics again, and it was a good fit this time. Now, we are originally where we wanted to be from Day One.

They make all the components of the case, except the screens. We do all the assembly and packaging. I can literally hop in the vehicle and drive 15 minutes to our manufacturer. I don’t have to hop a flight to China. There is something to be said for that.

You were a finalist in the Martha Stewart American Made contest. What did you take away from the experience?
There were 5,000 companies that entered the contest and 1,000 made it as a finalist. It was voter based and we trended a lot, almost every day, but we didn’t win. However, we felt that American-made passion. You could tell the difference in people who said they look at labels now and are conscience of things made in America. We also made some valuable contacts in the process.

What’s the future of Bodacious Cases?
We are looking for a new manufacturer because as of Dec. 1, Accurate Plastics will no longer (perform contract work for Bodacious Cases.) Everybody goes overseas, and they don’t have enough work. We just found out last week. We are looking for somewhere local. There are very few plastics manufacturers within an hour of us, but that’s my goal. They have enough work overseas. They don’t need mine.[[In-content Ad]]


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