High quality, homemade merchandise. A deep connection to Cape Cod. Some tremendously unique marketing. These things plus much more make Cape Clasp one of the leaders as far as entrepreneurs and young professionals go here on the Cape.
Founded in 2013 by Patrick Clarke Cape Clasp has been instilling a sense of pride and passion in Cape Cod and its landscape the likes of which is rarely seen and refreshing. Leading the charge of the pride and passion are the homemade, hand-tied rope bracelets. Adorned with the shape of Cape Cod, whales, great whites, dolphins, turtles, and more the connection between Cape Clasp and Cape Cod is undeniable.
Patrick Clarke became acquainted intimately with Cape Cod at a young age when he came across the bridge routinely with his family to visit and turn over their summer rental. Though not born on these shore Clarke feels a deep kinship to the peninsula.
“All my formative memories are here,” Clarke says, “first friends, first jobs, learning to drive. I worked at the golf club in Woods Hole every summer with my brother, Dan. We would caddy early in the morning and spend our afternoons exploring Cape Cod from Falmouth to Ptown. Years later, things haven’t changed much at all.”
After graduating from college Clarke would move up to Boston for a job as many young professionals have done. Despite living in the city he yearned for that connection he had felt while on the Cape. This desire would lead him back across the canal. Cape Clasp would be born out of Clarke’s love of the natural side of the Cape.
“I started using social media, mainly Instagram,” Clarke explains, “to show friends and family some of my favorite things to do every weekend on the Cape. The Cape Clasp brand became a medium for framing that content and turning it into a business.” Despite having the idea and the drive it was a challenge getting the product from brainstorm into reality.
“Our first product was the Cape Clasp bracelet,” Clarke continues, “shaped like Cape Cod. I had no money, no background in design, no idea how to make a website. I sketched it out in a notepad, and found someone on Craigslist to help me translate the design into a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file. I used low-cost 3D printing services to make the first prototypes and initial inventory.” With the designs in place the bracelets began popping up all over the Cape. Clarke has a great mind for marketing and has partnered up with several local organizations such as the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Cape Cod National Seashore, and Cape Cod Times Needy Fund.
The work with local non-profits has endeared Cape Clasp to the community; however there is another quirky marketing idea which has garnered Patrick Clarke a lot of positive attention. It is a term called geocaching. This consists of hunting for and finding hidden objects using GPS coordinates. It is a modern scavenger hunt and Clarke has used it masterfully. He leaves Cape Clasp bracelets in containers located at different spots, usually areas he enjoys and wants to share with others. The GPS coordinates are posted via social media and when the treasure has been found it is reported so that others don’t get caught in a wild goose chase. In the time since Clarke has been using this means of marketing it has become so popular that he has actually had objects claimed before he could even finishing posting the coordinates all over social media.
The sky seems to be the limit as far as Cape Clasp is concerned. Still, Patrick Clarke knows that a large number of young professionals on Cape Cod flee to find their success elsewhere. He has his own opinions as to why.
“Jobs are a huge problem everywhere, and Cape Cod is no exception. Young people are going to move to where the jobs are, and I’m not surprised many are gravitating toward bigger cities for work. Another factor is advancements in productivity and technology have disrupted many of the traditional jobs of our parents’ generation.” Ever the optimist Clarke does see an upside and he is living proof of it.
“These same disruptions have made it easier than ever to start something of your own. You no longer need to be in a big city or have a lot of money to start a business. Even 10 years ago, Cape Clasp could not have been a reality with my limited background and resources. Online tools like Shopify have made it easier than ever to start a website and reach your audience. Social media has removed the gatekeepers that used to dictate popularity; the community now decides what becomes mainstream. These advancements truly leveled the playing field for young entrepreneurs and it’s still happening. I love it. You still have to work really hard, but that’s the fun part.”
Cape Clasp has three years under its belt and 2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for the business. First up will be a newly designed website set to arrive in January. Perhaps just as important is the opening of the first Cape Clasp storefront this summer in Woods Hole. Above all Patrick Clarke will remain dedicated to designing quality products, sharing his love for the Cape, and always looking to make Cape Clasp a little bit better every day.
Clarke ends with some sage words of advice for all of those still pursuing their dreams, young and old professionals alike.
“You only have one life, so make it yours! Find what you love to do and pursue it relentlessly. Stop treading water and start making waves.”
Visit Cape Clasp at their website CapeClasp.com. Also check them out on Instagram and Snapchat @CapeClasp.
By Christopher Setterlund