Neocape – From Operating Theatre to Stylist’s Chair
We’re often asked how Neocape came into being. As manufacturers of the world’s most successful waterproof protector for wounds and fractures it’s fair that Neocape seems something of a strange detour. But the story is a good one!
As a well respected manufacturing company, we’ve always been keen to retain our sense of innovation. After working closely with the NHS to develop LimbO, the leading waterproof protector, our team was asked to create a waterproof sheet for use in operating theatres. The concept needed to include a sealed opening, which a leg or arm could be pushed through, enabling the surgical team to cover the patient leaving just the limb exposed which they needed to operate on. We quickly set to work, creating a couple of prototypes that were subsequently tested at St. Richards Hospital in Chichester. For a variety of reasons, the sheet couldn’t be progressed and the project was pushed to the back burner.
After some of our colleagues at the NHS got back in touch, we were again tasked to help solve a medical problem. This time we were asked if we could manufacture something to go over a patient’s head, to create a waterproof cover over a Hickman IV (a central line used to deliver medication into the chest) allowing the patient to bathe. Medical reasons meant the concept didn’t work as well as was needed to keep everything dry, and again it felt the project had run out of steam.
The fate intervened. Our MD, Ana Palmer, came into work after something of a hairdressing fail where hair dye had run down her neck and stained a favourite top. After seeing the protype she suggested how well the idea would work for stylists and barbers, for both washing hair or when getting it cut or coloured. The idea picked up pace very quickly – lots of the team shared stories about their own uncomfortable hair cuts and hair die disasters!
With the concept now firmly on the agenda, our original Neocape’s began life as a bib style cutting collar. We trialled them first with a local Chichester barber and hairdresser both of whom fed back into the process, enabling us to make some changes. This included tweaking the cape’s material from vinyl to fabric and the design from a bib to a gown. We then approached Salon International, who shared more feedback encouraging us to change the closure on the Neocape from Velcro to press studs.
When the design was just right we launched Neocape at some specialist hair shows in Manchester. The product quickly become a firm favourite, replacing old fashioned, uncomfortable and ineffective nylon, string-tied gowns.
Since launching Neocape we’ve continued to enjoy great feedback from stylists and clients, who’ve helped us improve the product along the way. And we’ve had fun with it too - some of our options have included limited edition prints, personalised capes for larger orders, a range of colours and sizes and a collar only option. During the pandemic we were also keen to support our barber and stylist community – who’d faced long periods of shutdown – and developed reusable Neocape face masks to help them get back to work safely and with style!
Neocape has also met the demand of many of our customers who were keen to opt for a reusable, environmentally friendly cape which can stand up to health and safety and frequent cleaning, rather than throwaway options which seemed the only choice after the pandemic.
So it’s safe to say that Neocape developed from something of an unorthodox beginning, in a totally different sector. And it’s certainly a testament to good manufacturing skills, tenacity and thinking outside the box!