The Denver-based company F3 Designs, has stumbled upon success in that much-coveted of technology niches: Apple product accessories.
Its flagship product, the "F3 Folio," has become a local hit and has begun to gain momentum online and even internationally, with publications from Italy and France singing its praises.
The Folios, which can be made from a variety of different wood depending on the customer's preference, are made in Denver by Ray Hill, a furniture designer and one half of the F3 Designs team. The iPad cover is described on the company's website as "a familiar form, inspired by the simple, clean lines of mid-century modern design." (The company's name stands for "Form, Fashion, Function.")
"Ray has been designing and building furniture and custom cabinetry in Denver for about a decade," says Eric Nord, who makes up the other half of the company with Hill. "He has a workshop where he builds furniture and develops design concepts as well as custom making the F3 Folios."
Nord, who's gone back to school to get a degree in Art History and Museum Studies from the University of Denver, says that while business is going well, that's a blessing and a curse for a new company.
"Of course with a new business it is always a delicate balancing act between selling enough to keep growing, and being able to keep up with the orders as business continues to grow. The last thing you want is to be turning people away because of backordering," says Nord.
For a product that only launched on December 10, the duo is ecstatic about the response the Folio has gotten so far, in Denver and abroad.
"We had a big rush just before Christmas, then things quieted down through the New Year, now interest and orders are starting to really pick back up again," says Nord. "We have sent cases to customers in New York City and LA, as well as other cities throughout the U.S. and the Virgin Islands. We even received an order from someone in Japan not long ago."
So how does the Folio hold up?
Originally the bulky size of the Folio gave us pause, as it significantly increases size of the slender iPad it protects, but after handling it for a while, the bulk actually made the iPad easier to use, as you didn't have to worry about it sliding off your lap. The built-in handle made it much easier to carry around.
The Folio should appeal to users with children, as the wood makes the case much more durable than the usual cover. You can drop the Folio multiple times without having to worry about damage to your precious device. The only problem that arose was a splinter incurred from the recycled fiber cover the Folio came in.
The product also features a handy slide-out kick stand that props up your iPad when taken out and helps secure your iPad in place when inside the Folio.
If you're interested in getting in on the ground floor of a trend that's already starting to sweep Denver and buying a Folio of your own, you can do so right on your iPad.
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"At the moment we only sell the folios on our website," says Nord. "However, we are also developing some relationships with some retailers to have them featured in their stores."
The hand-made cases range from $79.99 to $179.99 depending on the type of wood chosen.