A 20-year-old yeshiva student has created a product that may one day become standard apparel for athletic Jewish men and boys: a yarmulke that is guaranteed to stay on through jump shots, long passes, and everything in between.
Dubbed the Action Kippah, the product is a marriage between a sweatband and a conventional kippah, brought together by elastic hairbands. The brainchild of Ber Cohen, the former child star of the Agent Emes video series, the Action Kippah was inspired by Cohen’s own inability to make the plays he wanted while keeping his head covered in accordance with Jewish custom.
“Anyone who goes out and plays basketball has trouble keeping their yarmulke on,” explained Leibel Cohen, Ber’s father. “My son was no different, and he became frustrated that he couldn’t do what he wanted to because his kippah kept falling off. He tried hair clips but they got lost, kept falling off, and pulled his hair. In a moment of inspiration, Ber came up with an idea for a sports yarmulke and decided to ask my wife if she could execute it for him.”
The proud owner of a new sewing machine, Tanya Cohen set to work, using her daughter Elisheva’s ponytail holders and a sweatband to create a yarmulke that would defy gravity. Ber found that not only did his new creation do exactly what it was designed to do, but all his friends wanted one as well.
The Action Kippah became a family project, with Ber, his father, and even his grandfather, who had over 30 years experience in the men’s outerwear business, all brainstorming together until they finally came up with a workable prototype.
“We decided to go with a mesh sports fabric, something that could be universal for Jews of every religious group and was also lightweight, breathable, and looks cool,” said Leibel Cohen. “We went to a local sporting goods store and bought some shirts in that material and cut them up to create our prototype.”
Cohen used the same logic when it came to locating a factory to produce his goods, hooking up with a company that was licensed by the NBA to produce apparel. “While making the product overseas seemed like the cheapest option, we would have needed to buy thousands of yards of fabric, which just wasn’t practical for our expected distribution,” reported Cohen. “By going with this supplier, we got in on the back end, using the scraps that they had left from their products, which kept our costs at a reasonable number.”
The Cohens are ready to begin production of the Action Kippah and have turned to crowdfunding site Kickstarter to finance the final stage of production. In the three weeks since Action Kippah debuted on Kickstarter, Ber has already raised over half of his $18,000 goal, and he hopes that in the six days left to his campaign people will be inspired by his innovative and practical idea and will help provide the necessary funding to bring his product to fruition.
“How often does a person get a chance to participate in a truly transformative Jewish lifestyle idea?” mused Ber. “We think we have the answer here for all those kids who stick their yarmulkes in their pockets and run around bareheaded while playing ball. This is a project that everyone should want to get behind.”
Kickstarter pledges begin at just one dollar, with incentives including Action Kippahs and other rewards being offered at higher levels of financial commitment.
Should the necessary funding be in place, the initial 6,000-piece run of Action Kippah is expected to be available in stores worldwide and online at a retail price of $18. Looking ahead to the future, the Cohens are contemplating expanding the line by marketing Action Kippah to schools and camps.
To find out more about Action Kippah or to pledge a donation to the Action Kippah Kickstarter campaign, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/bercohen/action-kippah-always-on-top-of-your-game. v
Sandy Eller is a freelancer who has written for various websites, newspapers, magazines, and private clients in addition to having written song lyrics and scripts for several productions. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.