What's new - Fashion & Trends

Rainbow Loom Fueled by NYC School Ban

Two years ago, the pre-holiday craze among kids was Silly Bandz, rubber bracelets. This year it's, well, rubber bands created by another entrepreneur. And--ask any 8-year-old--these new rubber bands, which are woven together to form bracelets on something called a Rainbow Loom, are important enough for elementary schoolers to stop crushing candies on i-devices.

James Howard, the president of Zanybandz, a competitor of Silly Bandz, told the New York Times in 2010: "Pretty soon we were banned in six school districts there, and after we were banned in the first one, there was no looking back. Getting banned fuels the craze like a five-gallon can of gasoline on a campfire."

Now a number of New York City Public Schools have banned the latest "addiction" - Children weave together the rubber bands on looms to form the stretchy, rubbery, modern friendship bracelet (or belt, or jump-rope). From a retail perspective, both Silly Bandz and Rainbow Loom are perfect fads: They are eminently collectable, appeal to a wide range of ages of kids and are inexpensive to produce. The ban just adds to their appeal.

the entrepreneur behind Rainbow Loom is Choon Ng, a Malaysian immigrant to Detroit who was a crash-safety engineer at Nissan when he began testing out version after version of the small loom that could be used to weave rubber bands together. He spent the family's entire savings--$11,000--to create the first bands and looms and to submit a pre-patent"invention record."

Ng started selling the loom-and-band kits in July 2011--but sales were non-existent. That's until a franchisee of Learning Express, named Cindy O'Hara, called Ng, and placed an order for 24 loom kits. She sold out in two days and shared the story with other Learning Express owners.

Today, the Rainbow Loom sells for $14.99 to $16.99 and is sold at educational and hobby stores around the U.S., including more than 1,000 Michaels craft stores, and widely online

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