Maker Moment: Tassel Toppers

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Today we’re chatting with Marc Goldberg, founder of Tassel Toppers. Find out how he started his custom graduation cap topper business and how his products make a difference for graduates and their families.

How did you become interested in creating custom tassel toppers for graduates?

When I graduated from Indiana University in 1997, I had wanted to say a special thanks to my parents for supporting me through the long journey of high school and college. At the time, nothing existed like Tassel Toppers and I certainly was no artist, so I didn’t decorate my cap. Boy was that a mistake. My parents took pictures of someone else during the entire ceremony as we later found out when the film was developed. Could you blame my mom? With 4,000 students all wearing the same cap and gown, this could have happened to anyone. That’s when I wrote a business plan and sat on it for 15 years. As technology evolved, so did ease of personalization with sites like Zazzle.com. I created Tassel Toppers so students could have a professional way to decorate their graduation caps and to make sure no one ever gets lost in the crowd again. My product is the ultimate form of self-expression and is giving graduates an outlet to bring individuality and personalization to graduation ceremonies all over the world and at each level (kindergarten, elementary, high school, college and post-college).

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What gave you the belief that this product was a missing piece in the marketplace?

Nothing like this existed for decades and still year after year no one had done anything about this major dilemma, so I found the courage and funds to move forward with my idea. You see students are decorating their grad caps themselves and have been for a very long time. The problem is that no matter how hard they work on it themselves, it always looks as if a 5 year old decorated it and it damages the cap. My product was designed to not damage the cap and to be taken on and off as many times as needed in case you want to take professional pictures before or after the ceremony. Plus Tassel Toppers last forever as the perfect keepsake that students are framing and displaying. Since I launched the company, I have shipped over 200,000 Tassel Toppers.

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How important was it for you to form a partnership with the various branches of the Armed Services?  What lead to the partnership?

We were getting a ton of requests from students in all the branches of the Armed Services, so we pursued licensing in 2015. We have worked with the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) for the past 3 years and they have been sending out their Tassel Toppers with their acceptance letters to admitted students, who are graduating high school. Those students then can show off with pride where they are heading to school after they graduate high school. It’s been a huge success and has really caught on with many major universities throughout the country.

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What demographic do you find yourself selling the most Tassel Toppers to? Elementary school? High school? College graduates?

Right now we are selling the most Tassel Toppers to college graduates. It seems that colleges have really embraced our product and have been endorsing it all over campus and have been holding contests and promoting it all over social media.

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What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

When you give students the power to be creative, they can amaze you.  Some of the designs have really blown my mind. I get a lot of designs with the concept of “In Loving Memory.” When students send in their pictures of our product at their graduations with stories of how we made their day extra special, it makes it all worth it. This is from an email that came in recently:

I was so pleased to be able to pay tribute to my mother who passed away a month prior to my graduation. She has literally been there with me for every step of this journey and I felt like she was there with me this day as well.

As I walked into the stadium the camera man zoomed in and captured my topper and it was displayed on the jumbo screen. It was appreciated by my whole family. I received many compliments and shared that I had created the topper at tassel toppers.

Thank you so much for making my day special and providing a way for me to pay respect to my mother on my special day.

Are there any other fun products you plan to produce for students?

We recently launched a new section on our site for all of your graduation party supplies. We are the fun company in this graduation space, so adding the party supplies is a natural fit. We offer free shipping and our prices are on par or better than party city.

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