Business Profile: The Unlikely Road of the Thread Cutterz
by Elaine Luther
Oct 23, 2017
“Why didn’t I think of that?” and “You should be on Shark Tank!”
These are just some of the things people say to Vance Zahorski of Thread Cutterz when they meet him at a trade show. His clever invention is a wearable ring with recessed blades for quickly and safely cutting thread or fishing line. The ring has both utility and design patents and comes in two brands: Line Cutterz, for fishing, and Thread Cutterz, for sewing, needlework, knitting, beading, and just about any craft or task that uses thread, string, or yarn.
Vance, who has been fishing since he was four years old, came up with the idea after almost cutting off a toe while fishing. The fillet knife he was looking for, to cut his fishing line, was on the ground. He found the knife — with his foot. Coming home from that fishing trip, he had a 7-hour drive to think about the problem. There has to be a better way, he thought.
“Where could I put a cutting tool so that it would be on my body and always close at hand? Why a ring? I just literally went through my whole body. Where could I put this? Starting with my head and working my way down. Gosh, why not just put it right on your finger? And that’s how it started.”
Making it a ring just made sense. The product started as something for fishermen, but since the prototypes were all over the house, his wife, a crafter, naturally started picking them up and using them herself.
The biggest challenge in growing the business has been the financial challenge of investing so much. “To do it right, it just takes so much time and money,” said Zahorski. They sold their home, fishing boat, and smoker to fund the business. “We literally had just finished remodeling, tearing everything apart. We had our dream home with all the latest and greatest stuff inside and we were going to be there for a long time.” Even so, his wife was on board with selling the house. She said, “You’ve come up with a lot of ideas, and I think you have a winner.”
The other hurdle he’s faced in building the business is stress. He supports his wife and two young daughters with the business and notes that at one point, he had gone “from a six figure job to shopping at Goodwill. I mean, it definitely challenged me. Whenever there’s financial stress it can be tough on a relationship, but we just stuck together.”
The company launched a Kickstarter campaign in late 2014, with the first products shipping in 2015. The Kickstarter was successful, raising almost $15,000 which covered the initial production run. The Kickstarter page mentioned just once that the cutting tool was also useful for those who sew, and it took off in that category as well.
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