Angela Pan is the founder and chief executive officer of Ashley Chloe, a San Francisco-headquartered brand that just launched its flagship digital wearable accessory The Helix Cuff. Integrating a passion for functional aesthetic design with her aptitude for business strategy, Angela has a wealth of experience gained from her dual roles as startup entrepreneur and as an early-stage tech investor.
We got a chance to sit down with her and talk about her latest venture, The Helix Cuff wearable device.
Christina Jeter: What inspired The Helix?
Angela Pan: Here at Ashley Chloe Inc., we envision the changing landscape of hardware. Businesses that make sleek, fashion-friendly gadgets are the future. It’s no longer about big, bulky tech. The future is more fun.
Helix is the world’s first wearable cuff with stereo Bluetooth earbuds on your wrist. We wanted to bridge the gap between high-fashion and functional design in the tech space and we wanted to create something unique for music lovers – something that you can also show off a bit. A headset is fundamentally a product you want to carry around when you are on the go, but nobody has really solved the use case, what do you do with your headphones when you’re not listening to music? There are different kinds of boxes and wrappers that usually come with the headset, but according to our study, most people still carry them in pockets and purses, all wires tangled up. We wanted to create an elegant solution to this problem.
Fashion and functionality are the principles on which the Helix was created. Helix solves the problem of dealing with tangled and easy to lose headphones. What do you do with your headphones when they aren’t plugged in? Instead of keeping them in your pocket or purse, access them in a fashion-forward cuff for easy convenience. It can take minutes to unravel earbuds. With Helix, you’ll plug in your headphones in just seconds.
Helix was designed for people who are always on and always in style. We’ve created something unique for music-lovers, tech users, and smartphone mavens. Helix delivers an incredible sound experience in a wearable that’s on the cutting edge of modern fashion trends. Our goal is to make carrying headphones convenient and fashionable. The discreet, miniature compartment inside Helix accomplishes just that.
CJ: What is the warranty on The Helix? For example, I hate it when I lose the sound in one of my ear plugs. That is why I always get the $1.00 ones.
AP: We stand firmly behind Helix. Each Helix Cuff includes a 1-year limited warranty!
CJ: Most people wrap their headphones around the product they are using, why is The Helix more convenient in your eyes?
AP: We created Helix knowing that the human wrist is valuable real estate. We knew we would have to provide a lot of value to persuade people use a wearable that they will see all the time. We paid a lot of attention to the quality of the aesthetics and materials and created a design that looks sleek and stylish, feels comfortable, and cleverly hides its technological power.
The unique looping design of Helix allows consumers to conveniently wrap the connecting cord for the earphones into a groove on the wrist cuff when the headset is not in use. A tiny cache on the cuff provides a convenient place to put the earphones. Helix is designed to make the headphones look natural when in use. Measured to the perfect length, the headphones are short enough to wear on consumers’ wrist and long enough to comfortably sit in their ears.
It’s the loop design that makes Helix fit a user’s wrist. A neodymium magnet on one side of the loop connects with the other side to adjust to consumers’ wrist size. It takes seconds to slip on and fit on any wrist. That’s just part of why we love Helix’s loop design. It’s thinnest right below the user’s wrist so that they can rest their arm on a table normally. This was one of the main drivers for the Helix’s design. We realized that usability is extremely important for a wearable product.
A loop with a soft curvature is a pain to build. Especially when you add wired earbuds into the mix. Helix has a pretty complex entity of design elements. The challenge is how to make everything look and feel nice. Additionally, the portable Helix Cuff provides on-the-go access to advanced in-ear headphones that users pair with their favorite mobile, wearable and smart devices across various OS such as Android and iOS.
Lastly, we believe that the most interesting things happen in the in-between spaces. Therefore in the research phase of the product we looked at both, fashion and tech – both catwalk stuff and engineering. We wanted to create something convenient to use that solve everyday problem, as well as something new, and usually the new things come together from existing elements put together in a novel way.
AP: Interesting question and angle! We have actually been approached by Shark Tank the first week we launched our Kickstarter campaign! For as much as we love the opportunity – we would love to consider joining Shark Tank once Helix is out in the marketplace!
CJ: Is your product made in the USA?
AP: Our product team and design teams are from the USA, we have our product ideation and design as well as the mechanical engineering work done in the USA. However, we also partner with manufacturers in different parts of Asia to test out the difference in product quality in order to get the best quality possible.
CJ: Is the bracelet/cuff and earphones available for purchase separately? The reason I ask is because I would like to mix the colors and/or may want 1 of the 2.
AP: We believe fashion is all about fun and creativity, we would like to allow people to mix and match the color of the cuff and Bluetooth headphone in future.
CJ: What is the recommended care tips for this product. I.E. It’s on your wrist, so the plugs are open and exposed to bacteria from my body, lotion, and sweat.
AP: Good question! The Helix Cuff is splash proof and the earbuds are sweat resistant. It is designed for everyday uses and it’s okay to wash your hands while wearing the Helix Cuff. The cuff is made out of chemical-resistant rubber material. Since it’s a wearable product, it’s important to choose a material that is durable for every day use and flexible for bending. The material of the cuff is hypoallergenic and will not cause irritation. The earbud compartment on the cuff is made out of steel with PVD coating on the surface. The steel provides a rigid structure to hold the earbuds inside of the housing. It also adds just the right amount of weight to deliver the premium user experience of wearing a durable and valuable accessory. The PVD coating provides a mirror gloss effect which is an important aesthetic element for the design story.
CJ: Will you be partnering with any of the manufacturers, i.e. brands and products that are compatible with Helix, for example, the IoT devices across different OS platforms?
AP: That would be awesome if we ever get the opportunity to partner with the manufacturer. Strategy-wise, that would be somewhere that Helix is going after. After all, we believe that the IoT wearable community is all about “connectivity”. Helix is designed for users to use with everyday devices, so naturally, a partnership would be the next move that we are trying to pursue.
I spy with my eyes that The Helix Cuff will be the 2016 Must Have for every chic outfit and latest Apple technology!