FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Majoring in filmmaking and marketing at Fairfield University did not prepare friends and business partners Jason Maloney and Mark Donne to sew canvas cellphone cases.
And yet, two years after graduating, they both know how to sew passably. Maloney can mostly fix a sewing machine. And they’re producing canvas cellphone cases that they’re selling around the world.
They started their company, Diff3rnt, which is based in Fairfield, because they wanted to make an iPhone case that was different and not plastic.
“Everyone thinks you need a ton of plastic to protect it,” Maloney said of the iPhone. He said the thought initially came to them during their senior year when they had the epiphany that they could make something better, something different.
One of the more exciting things that has happened to the pair, beyond building a manufacturing company in Connecticut, was when they actually created a job.
They’re working with a company in Torrington called Commercial Sewing to make their products, and they said that it makes their prototyping faster, cheaper and more engaging for them.
“We wanted to keep it in the state, and we wanted to grow jobs here,” Donne said. Plus it’s only an hour drive to Torrington to the factory, where they can see the product being built, the conditions of the workers and help to control the quality.
“We can stand behind the product,” Maloney said.
And making the case in Connecticut sets them apart most every other major cellphone case manufacturer in the market.
“We were trying to prove the point that you can do manufacturing in the states,” Maloney said.
Right now, they’re making two types of cases, a sleeve and a wallet, for the iPhone. But they’re looking into expanding into a one-size-fits-all case. They didn’t quite know how they will manage it, but they know it would make them different.