David Schottenstein is a born entrepreneur.
A member of the Columbus, Ohio-based Schottenstein family, which made its name in the retail business with discounters such as Value City Department Stores, DSW and Filene’s Basement, started his first business at age 12, selling cigars to businessmen. Eight years ago, he founded the custom bespoke tailoring company, Astor & Black, which he sold to a private equity firm, Castanea Partners, last year.
Never one to sit still for long, Schottenstein started looking for his next business venture and settled on collar stays.
“I’ve always had a problem with collar stays,” he said, noting that rummaging through drawers to find the right stay for each shirt “always put me in a funk. I thought, there’s got to be a collar stay that works with all shirts.”
Schottenstein enlisted a designer to create a new product under the name Swiss Stays that is adjustable and fits virtually any men’s shirt collar on the market. He was awarded the patent on the product, which will begin selling this fall.
Shirt collars come in more than 24 sizes and Swiss Stays fit them all, Schottenstein said, with its rotating attachments that vary depending upon the width and length of the collar.
Swiss Stays are being offered in stainless steel, brass and titanium as well as PVC plastic. Sterling silver versions are being marketed as gift items. The stays are marketed in packs of three pairs in a flip-up case that replicates a Zippo lighter. Prices range from $5 for the plastic and $20 for the stainless to $30 for the brass and $90 to $120 for the sterling silver.
“Guys like gadgets and guys like cool stuff,” said Schottenstein, “and most guys who dress up use collar stays.”
Swiss Stays will be sold online beginning next week and Schottenstein is also providing the product to retailers as a private label item.