Before the creation of Sillybandz, the word “silicone” mustered up ideas of breast augmentations or an industrial rubber-like substance. Society knew silicone as raw material in caulk, medicine, electrical insulation, and maybe even makeup filler; but certainly not as a fashion accessory. Thanks to Robert Croak popularizing silicone jewelry with his global phenomenon of Sillybandz in 2009, silicone became the world’s most popular bracelet, and now there are over a billion of them around the globe.
Sillybandz fans always want to know how Robert came up with his multi-million-dollar idea. It all began when he visited a product show in China where he was presented a very-poorly-shaped animal rubber band by a Japanese designer. Robert looked at the oddly shaped rubber band in his hand and tried to see how the vague outline was actually intended to look like a dog. The Japanese seller told Robert his rubber bands were to be sold as an office supply product. Although Robert felt that it would never sell as a novelty rubber band for adults, this very moment was the match that lit the fire of an incredible idea.
With wild entrepreneur instinct, Robert took the product back to his office in Toledo, Ohio and pitched the idea of making them into silicone children’s bracelets, adding artistic detail, and calling them Sillybandz. The staff didn’t believe in it and didn’t think customers would invest in “silly silicone bracelets,” but Robert forged ahead with design and manufacturing. Many people assume Sillybandz was an instant hit, but that is far from the truth. Robert recalls, “It was a very slow build. With some key stores like Learning Express onboard, it slowly grew to a tipping point. But to this day, my mantra is ‘Always go with your gut,’ and I am so glad I did!” Not long after fortunate celebrity interactions, like Sarah Jessica Parker and Shakira wearing the bracelets, the Sillybandz brand grew momentum. Little did Robert know, his little idea was about to be the biggest bracelet trend the world had ever seen.
What happened over the next two and a half years was simply unheard of. Robert’s little Toledo, Ohio company was catapulted into the limelight and went from twelve employees to over 300 in the matter of months. During this time trying to efficiently scale the craze and capture the lighting in a bottle, Robert was working 18 hours a day seven days a week. Sillybandz partnered with the Kardashians, Justin Beiber, Hello Kitty, Barbie, Spongebob Squarepants, and Angry Birds for exclusively licensed bracelets. Licensing and consistently creating new packs to ship around the world was not easy, but with much determination, little sleep, and a great team, Robert kept up this pace producing a trend that outlasted most huge fads — over three years.
Thanks to the whirlwind Sillybandz fame, Robert has since been featured on “How I Made My Millions,” Bloomberg, CNN, MTV’s Made, Bravo’s Housewives of Beverly Hills, GSN-High Stakes Poker, as well as countless other TV shows and news features. After 2012, the blaze of the Sillybandz trend cooled off and Robert has continued inventing, investing, and launching many new products and brands. However, in 2019 with the rise of TikTok and Instagram influencers who are now the young adults who wore Sillybandz in their childhoods, Sillybandz is making a comeback. With over 1.6 Million Facebook fans, thousands of Google searches, hundreds of thousands of social media users hashtagging the nostalgic accessories, and media channels like Buzzfeed showcasing the bracelets, it’s only a matter of time before the Sillybandz craze will be a worldwide trend once again.