Tech Candy


For April Mraz and Cherie Stine success is built one innovative, cool

product at a time.

By Joe O’Donnell

I-phone 4 New York Hero Lavender Case

April Mraz and Cherie Stine got their first taste of the product design and production world with their first and highly successful Stretchy Shapes line. This boutique line of the highest-trending children’s silicone bracelets launched at the New York Toy Fair in February 2010 and sold nationally in hundreds of stores, including Nordstrom and Hallmark, in 2010 alone. Now selling internationally in Europe and the Middle East, Stretchy Shapes have paved the way for new and exciting product development.

Enter Tech Candy. Huge Apple fans, both Mraz (CEO and designer) and Stine (COO and sales director)  struggled to find acceptable gadget cases for their iPhones.

Between the two, hundreds of cases have been bought or researched and ultimately  they all failed the “Am I proud to carry it?” and “Does it protect my phone?” tests. And not just failed. Failed miserably.

So, just as with Stretchy Shapes, Mraz and Stine set out to build a better mousetrap. Many of the existing cases did an ok job protecting the gadget, but guess what? They did a less-than-dismal job of being something fresh, cool and fashionable that a woman would want to have in her purse. The cases that looked great in photos ended up being poorly produced in real life – ill fitting, paint that scratched off, or simply not that nice to hold.

So, what DOES a woman want? How about Tech Candy’s Jet Set Collection. This inaugural line of Tech Candy iPhone 4 and iPad cases was inspired by architectural details around the world. It features four distinct patterns – one Asian, one Spanish, another decidedly French, and the last one oh-so New York hip. The collection can be viewed on Tech Candy’s website at techcandycases.com, at retail stores nationwide, or in person to the trade at showrooms in the Dallas Trade Mart, Atlanta AmericasMart, Chicago Merchandise Mart and Seattle Gift Show.

April Mraz is the brains behind the collections’ innovative designs and production. Before the formation of OCG Products (the parent company of Tech Candy and Mraz and Stine’s first silicone-based brand, Stretchy Shapes), Mraz l was Creative Director and CEO of Open Creative Group (OCG), an innovative collaboration of creative thinkers from all advertising disciplines headquartered in Birmingham. OCG’s work on building brands has garnered many awards, including more than 40 local, district and national ADDY® awards in the past four years alone. Mraz’s work in design and art direction has been recognized by Print Magazine, the American Advertising Federation, and was published in Creativity 31. She was named Birmingham’s “Designer of the Year” both in 2005 and 2006. Prior to OCG, April worked for several years in the tech-heavy San Francisco market, where she helped develop startups and already established brands such as Adobe, Cisco, HP, and Victoria’s Secret. Her educational background includes continuing work at Samford University, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, The San Francisco Art Institute, and a BA in Graphic Design from Samford University, where she was valedictorian of her graduating class.

Cherie Stine makes the Tech Candy world go ‘round. A luxury brand marketing consultant with more than 20 years of expertise in branding, marketing, advertising, media planning and creative execution, Stine is known coast to coast not only for her savvy but also for her contagious sense of fun on the job. Before joining OCG Products alongside Mraz, Stine served as founding partner of Affluent Insights, a luxury marketing consulting firm focused on the intersection of wellness and real estate. She has served as senior director of marketing for The Cliffs Communities as well as VP of corporate marketing for Canyon Ranch, where she was responsible for marketing two destination spa resorts in Tucson, Arizona and Lenox, Massachusetts; three SpaClubs in Orlando, Las Vegas at The Venetian, and on onboard the QM2 luxury cruise liner; Canyon Ranch Living projects in Miami Beach and Chicago; and brand guidance for the launch of the new Canyon Ranch skincare line. From 1995 to 2005, Stine served as Vice President at Nielsen Media Research and The Nielsen Company, with a focus on the hospitality industry. Stine earned BA degrees in English and Psychology, followed by an MBA, from Breneau University.

So what’s next for the dynamic duo? According to Mraz, more of the same. The need for attractive, effective products that ties into the fast-moving, always-changing world of consumer goods is a constant itch that the market is absolutely dying to scratch. All the smart product developer needs to do is keep their ear to the ground and put quality first.

Leave a Reply