In 1999 MacCase invented the Apple specific Mac case market. In 2007 we reinvented it with the collection we dubbed "The Pinnacle of Apple Portable Protection". These new leather Mac case designs brought levels of craftsmanship and quality heretofore available only from the most prestigious design houses. For the first time, the best laptop computers had laptop cases that were their equal. Our Collection sets the standard for materials and quality offering the best in handmade leather iPad casesand MacBook Pro cases. It's called the "Pinnacle of Apple Portable Protection" because it is.
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History of the Best Mac Leather Case and iPad Cases
2017 marks the 10 year anniversary of the launch of the Premium Leather Collection by MacCase. The Collection represents the best leather MacBook cases and iPad cases available. The Collection was ground breaking in that it reinvented the Apple-specific case market Mac Case created nearly 10 years earlier.
This is an except from an interview with Michael Santoro, Chief Creative Officer of MacCase, the architect of the concept of moving the Apple specific case market to new heights. Let's take a look back at the history of the line that represents the best iPad and MacBook Pro protection.
JDK - Take us back 10 years. What was life like at MacCase in 2007?
MS - You have to go back later than that. The leather line launched in 2007 but the impetus to create something that the world had never seen before goes back to around 2005. We were the number one selling Apple specific case line at CompUSA for 3 years. CompUSA folds and we loose half of our revenue overnight. This kind of loss tends to make you very creative, very quickly.
JDK - So you are saying the leather line was born from necessity?
MS - That is part of the story. When I created the first ever Apple specific case, there wasn't much competition. This changed quickly. After nearly a decade, the market had gotten crowded. It seemed every time Apple announced a new product, a new MacBook, there was another slew of new case companies jumping on the bandwagon to compete with us.
Even though we were still doing very well, I was itching for that same excitement of when we had the place to ourselves. This, combined with the loss of CompUSA pushed me to start thinking about a second act for MacCase.
The Genesis of a New Mac Leather Case
JKD - So what lead you to leather? Did you look at any other options?
MS - That is a good question because along with going upmarket, I also looked at going down market. I thought there would be a opportunity to bring high end design to ultra low price pieces. We even had the name for the line picked out, the branding, everything. I walked around with the ideas for the products in my head for a long time never putting pen to paper to get them out.
JKD - Why?
MS - I don't know. That happens sometimes. I'm sure songwriters have the same experience. You'll walk around with a melody or some lyrics in your head for a week and if you don't get them out they evaporate back into the ether from which they came. For these low cost models, they just never got out. It happens.
JKD - Did you have the ideas for the leather line in your head at the same time?
MS - Yes.
JKD - Wow, never a dull moment in that brain of your's huh?
MS - You have no idea, Jody (laughing).
JKD - So the low cost line never saw the light of day?
MS - No, but if you look at amazon and eBay, the Chinese manufactures pretty much did exactly what I envisioned. When we started, a basic nylon sleeve for a MacBook was about $40. Now it's a lot less. I cannot speak to the quality of the stuff that is out there now at those super low price points, but that was the idea. My thinking about the direction of the market at that time was spot on.
JKD - So somewhere at this time the idea for the leather line springs forth. What was the difference in that idea vs. the low cost idea that made you take action?
The First Mac Cases, Again
MS - Because I was going to get to so something first again. There was no up market leather case line specifically for Apple in 2006. The disposability of nylon always bothered me. If you make a good quality leather piece it can last for decades.
Doing products that were more substantial had meaning to me. Doing upmarket, beautifully designed, beautifully crafted products that the world had not seen before is what designers live for. Knowing these products were going to be the best MacBook cases available brought a resurgent sense of confidence and pride to our work.
JKD - How did you choose which forms factors or styles to include in the new leather line?
MS - That was probably the easiest part because we knew what was selling well on the nylon side. So we just took the styles that were hits for us in nylon and copied them in leather. Well, we didn't just copy them. We fused the new leather aesthetic with the form factors we knew were top sellers.
JKD - Yes, tell us about the visual vocabulary you developed that became the hallmark of the new leather line.
MS - Well, if you are going to make the best of something, you want people to be able to see that. In our case, we wanted to make the best leather MacBook Pro cases. How do you use design to get that message across?
I needed a way to have the products speak for themselves. I wanted the vocabulary to be timeless. Our nylon models were never trendy so there was no way our leather line was going to be. The more time I spent on working on the designs, the more it felt like they were the right products at the right time, again. It would be a new line of Mac cases for exactly when we and the world would be ready for them.
The New Look For the New Mac Case Leather Line
JKD - What did you ultimately come up with?
MS - Arcs. Whenever you bring curves into a design it tends to make the design more complex and interesting. They can get away from you so you have to be careful. They do add a certain element of elegance and beauty. It's also something that sets MacCase models apart visually from everyone else. People see those beautiful arcs and the perfect white stitching and know it's one of our products.
But curves did 2 things for us: It showed the world we could cut leather, and when we used contrasting white thread to sew the curved panels, it showed the world we were serious about quality. It showed everyone we could sew.
It's really hard to do this stuff. You can't make the leather MacBook Pro cases or iPad cases at the quality we do on a speed line. And you can't put a white thread through a black leather curved panel unless every stitch is perfect.
This was the unspoken, visual language that was developed to let the world know that these were in fact the best leather MacBook cases anyone had ever seen.
JKD - When the line launched you had 7 colors. Was that a bit ambitious?
MS - Of course. Making Apple laptop cases from really expensive leather for a market no one knew was there was ambitious too. It's all ambitious. That's the point.
As an entrepreneur, ambition is the gas that keeps the engine running. Doing this line was as exciting as doing the first Mac Case for the old iBook. It had the same kind of energy. That's the time to try stuff. 7 colors was over the top. So what? Reinventing yourself, reinventing your company, inventing your products, that is the key to staying ahead and staying in top.
If you are doing something worthwhile, the second-handers will copy you. It's inevitable. But they cannot copy your innovation, your next move, or what you are going to do next. They cannot see into your head.
If you're always one step ahead, waiting to copy your next move, they are always one step behind waiting. This is a huge advantage in a space like ours. It's probably one of the reasons we've been able to do this for 20 years.
JKD - Were there any colors of the original seven that you look back on now and thing, "What was I thinking?
MS - No, not at all. You have to try things. You never know how the market will react. We sold a lot of red, a lot of pink and a lot of chocolate that first year. Don't forget, we only had a few styles back in 2007. Nothing like all the styles we have today. Cream never did well but it was a cool color to have in the line. So was tan.
Tan looks great in photos. So even though some of the colors were not great sellers, they presented a new idea, the idea of upmarket, high end leather quality products for Apple portables to a world that had never seen that before. A beautiful tan of red will do that a lot more effectively than a black case will in a photo.
The Best in Leather iPad Cases and MacBook Pro Cases
JKD - When did you realize the line was going to be a success? That your huge risk was paying off?
MS - Probably by the end of the first year. Sales we good and the interest was picking up. I was motivated to create more form factors, more styles and grow the line. It was the right line of products at the right time.
Eventually we made up all the revenue we lost from Comp and then some. It's very rewarding to be sitting here with you now 10 years later knowing it's still going strong. From a very dark day in our history we responding in the most creative way possible and came back stronger than ever.
JKD - Looking back now these 10 years, is there anyhting you are partially proud of about the line or what you have accomplished?
MS - I am proud that so many of the Mac leather cases and now, leather iPad cases that we have produced are still in use today. Some pieces of the original launch from 2007 are still in use. That is pretty good for a $100 - 250 case.
I am proud how well we have brought the iPad Pro cases into the Collection to the point where we are probably going to be best known for them in the not to distant future.
I am proud of all the new customers we've brought on board. Marie Osmond recently placed a nice order with us. Last week, Ralph Lauren's organization purchased our Folios for their staff. That says a lot when an iconic design brand like Ralph Lauren is purchasing your products for their staff. That meant a lot to me.
Neil Diamond's road crew uses Mac Case. Wherever Neil is in the world, if someone on the tour get's a new Apple portable, Stan (Neil Diamond's road manager) calls Debbie and we ship it to them. Lastly, actor Vince Lozano recently placed and order with us. Vince is best known for his work on the Pirates of the Caribbean.
JKD - Lastly, looking back on the last 10 years and the success you've had, does this inspire you to come up with something else? A third act for MacCase?
MS - I would not say the anniversary is inspired me one way or the other. Boredom, Jody. Boredom inspires me. I get restless really easily and am always looking for the next thing.
JKD - Have you found it?
MS - Stay tuned......
Have an idea for a leather mac case?
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Read more about the history of our Collection here.