1,000 COSIGNs: Meet Maggie Barton, Co-Founder of CuffedUp | COSIGN #110 of 1K
Name: Maggie Barton
Title: CEO, Co-Founder
Location: Dallas, TX
Favorite Quote: “First, think. Second, dream. Third, believe. And finally, dare.” – Walt Disney
CuffedUp is a fashion accessory line that keeps your sleeves rolled and gives you tons of new ways to style them. Founded by power couple Jon and Maggie Barton, CuffredUp is unisex and works on all garments such as button-downs, blouses, sweaters, jackets, and even pants. Based out of Dallas, the company recently launched October 2018 and has already been a success in the DFW market! Jon and Maggie started working on this full time in April and in only a few short months, they sourced a manufacturer, filed our patent, launched our e-commerce site, and sold out in one week at Stanley Korshak.
The couple started prototyping in their garage with liquid silicone and sheet metal. They iterated over and over to make something that works on anyone and any fabric. Most importantly, it had to be comfortable and easy to use.
When you think about these criteria, you realize how hard it is to actually develop something like this. Something so simple that everyone understands. Jon, led the effort in the design- “I’m really proud of him for getting it figured out in such a short amount of time,” she says.
Check out our brief interview with Maggie Barton as we discuss her work prior to CuffedUp, her blueprint, and what differentiates CuffedUp from their competitors.
Why did you create CuffedUp and what void does your business fill?
The best ideas are born out of necessity, and that’s exactly what this was. Jon and I were so tired of dealing with our sleeves. It was my silk Rag & Bone button down shirt that inspired the idea. Silks are impossible to keep rolled! I started looking around and realizing so many people had the problem of badly rolled sleeves.
Particularly guys, who have a great outfit on with all the details polished, looked foolish with floppy rolled sleeves. You know what I’m talking about, the guy wearing a dress-shirt with the sleeve that’s folded up once (maybe rolled) that’s flopping around everywhere, coming undone the more he talks with his hands. It seemed silly that there wasn’t a good solution for this out there that could work on anyone and any shirt. So we set out to fix that.
What were you doing before CuffedUp and how did your previous work/life experience help you in your new business?
Before we started CuffedUp, we launched a different company called SPURstartup. SPUR was a crowdfunding platform for college students with online courses centered around entrepreneurship. Both of us majored in Entrepreneurship and believed every student should learn entrepreneurial skills. We worked a lot with community colleges and business development centers. Ultimately, it was too slow to monetize because you’re working with large government funded entities. I left to go work at a foundation and Jon ramped up his freelance design career.
During my first few weeks at my new job, I was desperate to get back to building something of my own. So when the idea of CuffedUp came to me, I couldn’t ignore it. Honestly, it was a miracle idea. They say there’s a difference between a good idea and a God idea- well this was definitely a God idea. We learned so much from our first company that helped us launch this quickly. We didn’t make the same mistakes twice. CuffedUp was much easier to get up and going because we had that experience!
What was your blueprint to launching/creating your company? Could you walk us through the process?
The speed we moved at is almost unheard of. We didn’t start working on the idea until April 2018 and spent months getting the product right before manufacturing it. This was the grueling part of starting up because we wanted to go fast but didn’t want to be sloppy on the design. Often times, the differences we were testing came down to less than a millimeter. We spend 15 hours a day, weeks at a time, measuring people’s arms, making janky prototypes, then hitting the streets to have people try them. We got creative with our prototypes and used everything from duct tape, to magnets, to measuring tape. It was lean prototyping at it’s finest. I’d say having Jon as an in-house designer was one of our secret weapons. For both our brand and product dev, as soon as we knew what we wanted to create we had the expertise to actually do that. So making changes didn’t take long.
We learn how to do almost everything ourselves to keep costs down and move quickly. We’ve never sourced a manufacturer in another country, but we figured it out! That’s the blueprint, it’s not rocket science. We have access to so much information on our fingertips, there’s no reason you can’t research something quickly to get on the right path. Get creative with your problem solving, too.
What differentiates you from your competitors?
Our competitors have strict limitations with function and form and are not luxury styling items. There’s one product that’s for button-downs only. You only get one style because it buttons to the shirt and is visible all the time. There’s a piece of fabric you can roll into your shirt to get an even-looking width, but it doesn’t hold your sleeve up or give you style variety. All our competition only works on thick cotton, mens shirts. There’s nothing like CuffedUp because ours works on any shirt, keeps any fabric up, and is undetected under your clothes. CuffedUp also lets you get different styles on the same shirt and can shorten your sleeves. I’ve seen women completely transform a shirt using it on tricky designs like bell sleeves! is a luxury styling tool that works on even delicate fabrics, like satin and silk, but is also strong enough to work on denim. We had to special order the steel on the inside! There’s simply nothing out there delivers this type of value. The closest thing would be an actual tailor!
As much as we love success stories, can you tell us some of your pain points as an entrepreneur and how you overcame them?
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in June 2018. Right in the busiest part of launching CuffedUp. Having this disease completely zapped my energy and passion for life. From June through September it was really bad. I didn’t recognize myself. I had doctors appointments multiple times a week and getting out of bed was a challenge for me. It’s crazy to think we still launched this fast with all of this going on.
Here’s how I didn’t let this hold me back: I started to look at life from a less tangible, more spiritual, perspective. The way I see it, there’s three states we can choose to operate in: Physical, mental, or spiritual. Our physical state is defined by what we can do. Our mental state is what we believe we can do. Our spiritual state is what we know God can do. As an entrepreneur, it’s really important to know where you are on this spectrum because it will dictate how you choose to make decisions, take risks, and solve problems. Where you fall on this spectrum will define where your self-imposed limitations are.
Look at someone like Stephen Hawking. They didn’t think he’d live past 25! Do you think he let his physical condition dictate what he set out to accomplish in life? Absolutely not. In life, you’ll be dealt bad circumstances over things you can’t control. I truly believe that mindset is everything. You can get past any obstacle in life if you can free yourself from letting it define you and limit you.
We believe the Power of a #COSIGN is real. Can you tell us how a #COSIGN has impacted your business. Whether it’s been through word of mouth? An influencer #COSIGN or celebrity #COSIGN?
I’m new to the COSIGN community. I discovered COSIGN on instagram when I was searching for the best Dallas influencers to work with and came across the award ceremony. We were vendors for it and that was our first real taste of the community! We were thrilled to be surrounded by such a creative part of Dallas. It’s amazing to see how Dallas has evolved to be more forward thinking. I think COSIGN has played a big part of that.
Where do you see your company a year from now?
I’d love to do something like QVC, since our product is so demonstrable and versatile. I see us in major department stores and expanding our online presence. We are 100% focused on sales and spreading the word! My goal is to have a larger team of highly creative thinkers to help us grow quickly and get into the right distribution channels.
Last but not least, who do you #COSIGN and why?
@Alanna_Sarabia – I met her at the COSIGN awards. So gracious and a true representation of Dallas’s charm.
@FioreX7_Flowerbar – My extended family started a flower shop that has taken Dallas by storm! They were some of the top designers at Fossil before they decided to start this. They do flowers for elite venues, like the Crescent, Stanley Korshak, and more. They have amazing flower workshops, beautiful jewelry, and are some of the most creative people I’ve ever met!
@VeronicaBeard – She believed in our product early on. I’m so grateful for her support and her clothes are incredible.
@Dallasites101 – They always know the best spots in Dallas. I trust any of their recommendations! The founders are incredible people to work with.
@Lianayarckinartist – An amazing artist who prints her custom art on scarves and other clothing. She’s super talented and I love her work!
@SydneySadick – Not a Dallas resident, but a big up-and-coming stylist. She loved CuffedUp from the start. We’ve been working together on TV shows and other content. She has great style and style tips.
@Fleastyle – I love how much Flea Style has changed the small business scene in Dallas. All of their markets are an incredible place to meet other creatives! I have so much admiration for their founder for making it happen.
@Kaseygoedeker – Kasey is a local blogger with great Dallas style. She’s been a big supporter of us from early on. I’m always admiring what she’s churning out on her feed!
@Kerrently – She’s one of the biggest bloggers in Dallas right now. Obsessed with her style!
@DaniAustin – I haven’t met her in person yet, but she’s someone I really hope to work with soon. She has such a playful personality that I know we’d have fun together!
@jonsbarton– Obviously, my husband is one of my biggest inspirations. He’s an uber-talented graphic designer and has the best style of any guy I’ve seen in Dallas.