Freaker Feet

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A viral video and an appearance on Shark Tank helped launch a quirky Wilmington startup called Freaker USA into the national spotlight in 2012. 

The subject of the video was scruffy founder Zach Crain, who promised to end "moist handshakes" around the world with his uniquely-designed, brightly-colored woven beverage insulators called "Freakers." His October 2012 Shark Tank episode was the highest rated in the show's history at the time. And his original Kickstarter campaign was considered a marketing masterpiece.

According to a September 2014 CNBC story, Freakers are now sold in Nordstrom and Whole Foods and more than 2,000 boutiques around the U.S. The success appears to have prompted the design of a second product called "Freaker Feet."

Crain is back on Kickstarter with the line of $16 American (mostly NC)-made socks, promising Kickstarter supporters 127 designs including their alma maters, state flags and a series of Freaker-created character socks. It's the last day of his campaign and he's just surpassed a $250,000 goal. (He's raised almost $20K since I started writing this story.) A 2011 Freaker campaign surpassed its goal of $48,500 by $14,000, and that was before Shark Tank.

Check out the video below, and in return for $1 donation, you get a free Freaker and for a $96 donation, get your own Crain video message in addition to your socks. Looks like Crain is back again with Freaker marketing mastery: