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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

.D.: All right well that’s awesome and tell me about your sort of interest I guess any challenges you’ve faced as you’ve begun this journey as an inventor. How did you first get started and what were some of the barriers?

Kady: So I got started specifically December of 2020. At the time I actually was already pursuing my own business. So freshman year of college I was already known as like a beauty provider or makeup artist and I was making a lot of money in my dorm room but you know once COVID happened I got sent home. I had to, I was a little bit panicked because I was like if students aren’t buying my product who am I going to sell to? I had to, I had to move online and I got very familiar with TikTok. They reached out to me, I joined a program to transition the app from a kids dancing app to more educational. That was when this idea and invention sparked up.

I’ve always been someone that tries to find easy solutions to problems. I always tell my mom that Bill Gates says “Hire lazy people because they’ll find easy ways to do things.” And so someone who wears hoodies all the time and I practice wearing hijab, I told myself “Why don’t they come with hoodies I just come with both in hijabs?” And then I was already familiar with the process of reaching out to manufacturers or vendors and getting them to bring something to life. And so I went about it, got my first sample, ran to social media and that’s when the panic sort of set in because I was lit with a lot of love and appreciation but I was also met with like “You’re not smart,” “People are going to steal this idea,” “You shouldn’t have posted this,” “You know” and that’s what I found you guys.

I very, very clearly remember coming to Bold and like a panic state saying like “Hey what do I do? I need protection. I don’t know what they’re saying.” And that’s when I knew I had to, you know, go about getting protection.

J.D.: Right, right. Well so you’re actually ahead of the game. I know a lot of our clients inventors when they’re first getting started they have no idea about manufacturing or building a product. You actually had a leg up because you said you’ve already done some of that with your entrepreneurial efforts with your beauty line. Had you done clothing before or was that a new…?

Kady: No it was new, everything was new. The pricing was new even like the sampling process. I was very… I wasn’t for it. Every time they told me a number I was like “This is not okay. You know Cosmetics was never this much I’m not doing this.” And I kept… people were turning me down but then I was turning other people down because of their price ranges. My mom was just like “Go for it like…” You know so it was very new but I still was used to the back and forth. I knew where to find people so that sort of made it easy for me.

J.D.: Got it and I appreciate you sort of admitting that you’re a bit like “in panic” yeah. One more time so I know a lot of people have been in that boat. We’ve been able to help out…And it and so what what sort of started that panic? Or what were they saying that got you…?

Kady: So I made the post on January 1st – no – January 30th of 2021 I believe and the very first thing… I just started getting a lot of retweets. I don’t know like I woke up and it already was past I think 100K likes and like tons of retweets and there were so many comments. No just it was my first time just blowing up on Twitter and a lot of people were like “Oh this is amazing unheard of why didn’t this exist before?” “What – who – why didn’t I think of this?” And then other people were like “You guys are so stupid.” People like you… “Things like this are gonna get stolen.” Or they’d be like “Oh Fashion Nova is writing things down right now.” Or they say like “Oh Nike’s gonna take this,” or “You know…”

And so that’s when I… I was happy but I was terrified. So it was very it was battling two types of emotions at one time and I was like “What are these people talking about?” I started looking up what patents even meant and I… I will be honest going in and working with you guys I still had no idea what was happening. I just left it all to you because you know it was, you were trustworthy. But um I had no idea what they were talking about. But I knew I was afraid of larger corporations copying the idea because it happened… We’ve all seen it before. And so yeah it was… It was a lot. It was a lot but I’m glad I went about getting protected.

J.D.: Yes I mean we were still within that period that one year grace period. It’s where you can still protect your invention… Walk us through a little about what it was like finally getting to breathe a little bit, speak with Houda about the process – how did that go?

Kady: Yeah so we talked a lot about the product. Funny enough she… She really understood it, she was really interested in it herself and I remember the day that it was filed that’s when she sort of informed me…”I could be like okay like take a take a breather” because I had no idea that following things were even important. I just like “Okay well what am I gonna get the patent like when? What is this?” She was like “Oh filing day…”

I applaud Houda because I always came to her with like tons of questions, tons of panic and I was like “Well what about this and what about this and someone’s trying to copy my idea and someone’s trying to do this…” And um she very… She calms all my nerves very easily even when… I went after the UK patents I had no idea that you could do that and I was very easily connected with someone overseas. I got protected there because again a lot of our International customers come from there.

And so once it was approved that’s when it was like “Oh like I’m safe now.” Like it was like a lot of stress and pressure just taken off my shoulders I’ll say because all those comments were like… They’re like gone to the to the dust now like they weren’t important anymore. Like I knew I was protected. I could boast about it, I could put on my website. I just it was a sense of comfort, yeah.

J.D.: Awesome. Let’s talk about that so what is your website? What are you currently selling?

Kady: Yeah so my website is now valestreet.com we recently over from hijabi…

J.D.: Alright. Well good and how are things going there?

Kady: Yeah pretty well… We’re really, really doing… I love TikTok. I mean I’m in another program with them right now and um yeah it’s been really fun…I don’t know if I can share this but I may or may not be visiting a show where investors like they pitch to investors you know? I may or may not be in that process right now, yeah.

J.D.: Well that sounds exciting that sounds exciting you have those kind of prospects good… Yeah so tell us about your your branding a little bit about that story… What you’ve settled on in terms of naming and how that’s fit within the company and the business plan.

Kady: So the very, very recent change from Hijabi Shop to Vale Street was due to the previous owner. I mean through Bold I was connected through to Matt to go about following my trademark. It was a pretty long process because we weren’t getting tons of responses. We even tried to co-exist, we tried a lot and we just kept getting met back with responses we didn’t want. 

And so when the show reached out and I asked for advice from Matt he very clearly said like “You know if I was this show I would not let you on there with this issue.” So if I were you I would do a rebrand. And he was very right. I immediately did a rebrand and I was then able to move on with the process. And the rebrand actually is a lot greater than the past name. You know it was descriptive which is what I liked about it because a hoodie and hijab… Hood job… You wear it, you’re a hijabi. I wear hijab, I’m a hijabi… Tongue twister, confusing I know but this new name is a lot more just to the point. It’s very neutral.

So Vale street because I’m combining the worlds – the worlds of modesty and streetwear and that’s exactly what the brand is. You know I focus a lot on being representation that I wish I had growing up. I show Muslim women in a very fun and unique light. A lot of our TikToks you’ll see us doing fun skits or remaking scenes from the Kardashian show. Like you know we do a lot of fun stuff so I try to keep it very entertaining and lively. So yeah…

Oh that’s great so yeah just to make sure people got this so you had to pivot from Hijabi… Hood Job… to Vale Street? Yeah how long ago did that happen? It all happened in April, two months ago. Yeah exactly they reached out to me in March. Well me and Matt were already having conversations and I was like “You know let’s just be honest what happens after here?” I already… We already filed for the trademark. It’s still pending. We also filed for cancellation and abandonment. That’s still… I was on rocky waters. I didn’t know what was going on and I also didn’t like the fact that the other owner still has some sort of hands in my business that makes it… Like she still has some sort of right over me and I think she even sent like an email saying that she wanted like two hundred thousand dollars… It was a lot of craziness.

So I was like I want to completely detach from that. And so he said “If I were you I’d rebrand right?” Yeah got it. And look at you… You’re so optimistic and I know that would rattle a lot of entrepreneurs but you’re staying High Spirits…

Matt definitely saw the panics too so yeah… So I would say that sounds like you weren’t able to tell us the full details of this potential trade show but tell us about what… What business plan do you have? Where do you see yourself and Vale Street let’s say a year from now?

A year from now it’s a great question… I want to be constantly having drops. So we move on a drop based schedule. So we like to lock the website and then get new inventory, do a lot of promotions, get a lot of hype, give people the exclusive access like “Sign up – we’re going to be releasing on this day be there be square…” And then like boom… Have a drop and then sell out. I want to get back to that regular basis.

With this year being incredibly rocky and losing about $12,000, $12,000 in inventory and pausing our drops, I want to get back to that basis. And I also would like to get into licensing 100%. I already… I see some brands have interest… So Puma copy and pasted the design. They made like a gym version and they use the same name. They call it hijab, they call it a “modest hood job” and we definitely know like… It’s confirmed with Houda and the litigation attorney she connected me with that… It released like far after my release. Like they released it this year September and my patent was approved last year.

So I’m hoping that when I do go on the show that I get the right investor to help me know how to navigate that…

Okay okay so you have infringement…? Okay walk us a little bit about that after having a conversation with the patent litigation… Is it what sort of you know plan did they put in place?

So pretty much in September a brand – like a really good brand in the activewear space – I forgot the name actually but they’re really big. They’re known for their designs and textures and they came out with a gym hijab hoodie but it wasn’t named it wasn’t named a hijab hoodie. They named it something else but it was identical. But it also came out way after mine released.

I definitely know there’s priority issues with that Puma’s a huge brand and they definitely have the means to be like oh it’s just a coincidence but I’m hoping to know like how did you not see this on the market beforehand or you know like how isn’t it suspicious you name it the same thing?

The United Kingdom reached out to me saying “Hey I just walked into JD Sports that’s like a that’s like a UK’s big Nike and they’re selling your product.” And I was like “She’s like yeah but it’s under Puma.” And so then I all of a sudden start getting like details of people reaching out to me. 

And so I went to the website and I noticed it was very a very obvious copy. Then I ordered the product and was able to show the like exact ref… I was about to show it to the litigation attorneys and I created a slideshow. I had all of my dates, I had all of Puma’s dates because they needed evidence on when they released and they did no social media promotion.

So I had to go to find like articles. All the articles were released in September and October of 2022 saying like “Puma went to Turkey and started this modest gym collection after…” you know so it was very obvious you know when it happened.

And so with the team they’re saying that they’re very honest about what the process is like especially with a big brand like theirs and they said like “Big brands like these, the moves they make are calculated. They don’t… They know you exist, they also know that your patent exists but if you were to go to court they also know they could possibly out fund you.” And so that’s why they were you know brave enough to do so.

And so it was very hard to hear but it was very honest and they explained the process would be first off having to go like a couple of emails going back and forth asking them to cease use and if that doesn’t work out we move forward to other things. The highest amount would be like obviously going to court and he said “If it was an easy case it would be like let’s say a hundred thousand dollars.” Hard case: $200 to $500 thousand.

These numbers obviously rattled me, scared me away and I was like “Well looks like I’m just not seeing you know because obviously with a patent you have to protect it.” And so um then we talked again and they talked about possible litigation funding. Like if you have… You can find litigation funders if they know you have a great case.

So I provided them with all these details. We’re still in like a gray area I’m super gonna say that right? And so my goal now and my hope is with this show… I don’t want to place all my bets on them but I know that it takes a lot to be able to go after a big brand like theirs and they know what they’re doing and it’s very obvious.

So my hope is that once I do get an investor and mentor I’m able to know how to move forward. Like is it worth it is it not worth it? Because obviously you know I’m hearing tons of things. I gave up a while ago then Houda was like “No like you… You’re a 22 year old. You got this patent protected. Like this is your product. Like you should…”

And then I’m like “Okay well this is all very new to me. Like last year I didn’t know what a patent was. Now you’re going to talk about litigation.” So yeah I’m hoping that with an investor, a mentor, they’re able to help me navigate and know what to do. But funny enough like one of one of them or like multiples of them – like the the investors I’ve seen them all like in Puma like wearing it or like following the brand or having collaborations with one of their brands. So I’m not sure what that’s going to be like. So just just navigating it because Puma’s is a brand they’re well known, they have a lot of money…Yeah…

Just Katie so yeah well that’s very cool. Well Katie thank you so much for sharing and being transparent, open and honest with your story. It sounds like you have you have got some successes but there’s some challenges lay ahead but major opportunities too at the same time. So I’m excited to hear what is next. We’ll definitely have to stay tuned, check in at that one year mark and see if things turned out well as we all hope for Vale Street. So anything else you want to share with us before we go?

I’m just thankful that I found Bold because out of this entire journey I’m clearly a solo entrepreneur and there’s a lot that I… There’s a lot that I know. There’s a lot to learn and there’s also a lot that I don’t know. So I’m grateful that you guys were like a filler for especially the legal side – whether it’s trademark, litigation, all this craziness and confusion. At least I had a team to rely on.

I always wonder if like Houda or Matt are tired of my emails… I’m like “Hey, what does this mean? I need help with this…” Like I just got this message… “What…” You know I’m always just like running to them for answers so I’m really thankful that I have that and that I… I feel protected and I know that even if I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future with Puma or with whatever I know that if I were to go after them at least I have the receipts. I have Bold, I have something to back me up. I’m not just like floating in thin air with zero protection you know?

Oh and I’m so great to hear it! We definitely have your back and we’re here to support you. We’re not just gonna get you the patent and then go away. We’re here all the way through so any questions at all get a hold of Houda or Matt or myself. I’m so happy to have you as a client, Katie!

You’re welcome! Let me turn the recording off here and then we can chat. I want to mention something here. Okay, record.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at https://boldip.com/contact/