MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s one small Twin Cities company off to a blazing fast start by being the first to market disposable iPad sleeves.
The idea for Chef Sleeve was born in the kitchen. Santiago Merea, a 29-year-old former consultant born in Argentina, needed a solution to a simple problem. His wife Abby was in the kitchen making brownies using a recipe on an iPad.
“Literally every 5 minutes I’m running back and forth to the sink,” Abby recalls as she was thinking of how inconvenient washing the mess off her hands was.
Her husband clearly noticed the problem, and remember thinking “How can I solve this?”
Santiago said he pulled a plastic baggie over the iPad, and began planning his strategy to market a custom and disposable sleeve.
The idea struck Santiago in February 2011. Marea then spent the following weeks finding the “perfect” plastic that was clear enough and allowed customers to use a touch screen. By April, Chef Sleeves were selling, and Merea started Establish Tomorrow, which is the brand that sells Chef Sleeve.
He now has an office, a staff of four on salary, an expanding product line and soaring sales. But the biggest boost was getting Target and Best Buy to sell the product after roughly one year in business.
“It’s crazy,” said Merea.
It’s crazy, because at the beginning Merea and his team were packaging and selling the product out of his Uptown apartment, then dropping them off at the post office to be shipped. He says the Chef Sleeve inventory is 10,000 units.
“Target will take all of (it) in one order,” said Merea.
Santiago and his company are enjoying the early success but their sights are set on the future.
“Our goal next year is to become that No. 1 brand, when you think about the kitchen and the iPad you think about Chef Sleeve,” he said.
Chef Sleeve has been featured in Oprah Magazine the New York Times.
The product line has expanded to include Chef Sleeve for iPhone and Kindle. Ten packs sell for $9.99, and 25 packs sell for $19.99.
Chef Sleeve has partnered with Duluth-based Epicurean to sell special designed iPad stands, and a cutting board.