ShirtWhiz turns garments into wall art
Makes a splash at Chicago show: Appeal of New Canaan woman's invention spreads
Olympic athletes returning from London might want to commemorate their experience by hanging their sports jerseys on the wall.
In the past, those garments would be framed behind glass, never to be touched again, but a New Canaan mom has invented a new product that attractively and affordably displays sports jerseys and collectible T-shirts as wall art for proud fans, athletes and collectors; and they are still wearable.
Pat Calanca, the inventor of ShirtWhiz, developed the idea because her sons Dan and Billy are athletes and most of their treasured jerseys were stuck in a closet or drawer, or hanging in a droop on the wall.
"We looked around retail stores and didn't find anything," said Calanca, whose solution became ShirtWhiz, her patented design featuring a black plastic shoulder bracket and 18 adjustable pivot joints that bend to accommodate all jersey sizes from youth to adult, and styles from basketball to baseball to hockey, and T-shirts from concerts and special events.
"We self-launched it in March," Calanca said. They introduced ShirtWhiz to store buyers at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, where it was one of five finalists in the Home Decor + Gifts category of the 2012 Innovation Awards. ShirtWhiz was picked up by several college bookstores and Sky Mall catalog. It retails for $23.99.
Collectors are also taking note. Billy Calanca said one Oakland Raiders fan bought 20 ShirtWhiz hangers and arranged his jerseys in a decorative pattern on the wall. Another collector, who had kept his autographed Michael Jordan basketball jersey in a pizza box now has it hanging from a ShirtWhiz display unit.
Their target audience is open ended. "Ten million authentic and replica jerseys are sold every year across a wide range of sports, and 35 million children play organized sports with jerseys," Billy Calanca said.
"Younger people want to hold on to their jerseys from when they hit their first homerun and memorialize it as part of that great day," Dan Calanca said.
They'd like to sustain this as a full-time business. "It's fun to work with my mom, and it's a great learning experience," Billy said.
"I love coming home from work and hearing the sound of packing tape," Pat Calanca said. It signals "we sold something."
To place an order, visit www.shirtwhiz.com