Despite the injury, he did not give up. He built the Chateee brand and produces caps with a wooden peak in it.
It is proof that nothing is impossible. Aleš Rauš broke his spine and suffered a spinal cord injury in 2004. At first he just lay down, then he sat in a wheelchair, and today he works mainly with the help of barrels and orthoses, which the doctors initially did not believe. However, he fearlessly ventured into his own business and founded the Chateee brand.
Aleš Rauš runs a sheltered workshop where he makes caps with wooden visors and creative clothes. Some of the materials he uses would end up as waste in other companies. He picked up these scraps and gave them a second chance. He claims that we cannot "loot" the planet indefinitely in similar ways.
The Chateee brand was created by Aleš approximately 6 years ago. "At that time, I made a concept of clothing that was covered with various Velcro patterns," he recalls. He owes this idea to his wanderings around the world. Specifically, in Japan, he saw a group of teenagers sticking different stickers on their clothes and exchanging them.
Aleš saw great potential in these communication shirts. At the beginning, he tried to make them by trial and error and invested a thousand euros in it. He had to come up with a suitable procedure, thanks to which the Velcro fasteners on the T-shirts would hold and at the same time withstand washing cycles as well as the frequent peeling and sticking of his patches. When he succeeded, he bought the material and other machines. Investments in technology alone cost him more than 10,000 euros.
At first, he worked on the Chateee brand by himself, but he was helped with graphic work by two cousins, Tomáš and Daniel Zachovci, who studied design and worked in the fields of 2D and 3D graphics. "In 2019, my former classmate Milan Jacko, who is disabled like me, joined me in the sheltered workshop," he reveals. The initial process of production and finalization of products takes place in Alešová's Rožomberská workshop, the rest are carried out in other regions of Slovakia and the Czech Republic
According to Aleš, doing business in the field of fashion in Slovakia is not easy. Especially because handmade producers stand against global brands and fast fashion. "I think I can be grateful for the 5% of people on the Slovak market who like to buy something unique and local," he says openly. At the same time, he adds that in such a business one must find a hole in the market, come up with an interesting idea, have a reliable team behind him and, above all, luck.
He himself does everything in his power to develop the Chateee brand. He wants to reach people through business platforms such as Amazon or Ebay, concept stores and also visits design markets and festivals. He does not neglect advertising either, establishing new business partnerships and reaching out to influencers, such as rappers Ton S., Bekim and Opak. All this in an effort to introduce products to the market that, according to Aleš, have added value.
But his business vision and philosophy do not end there. It supports the employment of people with disabilities, the planting of new trees in Slovakia and community projects. "I also want to focus on companies where I can provide them with the opportunity to apply for substitute performance with us within the framework of the protected workshop, and therefore the opportunity to place an order for the protected workshop, or custom-made products with their logo," he explains in more detail.
The brand's offer currently consists of communication T-shirts, sweatshirts, caps and patches with Velcro. In addition, Aleš created the Čapica sub-brand, in which he produces caps with wooden peaks. They traveled to the countries of the European Union, but also to the United States of America or Africa. According to Chateee's founder, the best-selling product is a black cap and a Santos Palisander wooden cap with a custom-engraved motif.
He found inspiration for the creation of these caps with a wooden peak from other creative people from various crowdfunding portals such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo and also from his friend Martin Moravčík. However, he didn't decide on the concept right away, first thoroughly researching the global market. “I googled and searched in patent directories. After about a year and a half of development, I found out that someone in the European Union already produces caps with a wooden peak. I was incredibly sorry," he says openly.
However, he had the project up and running, he invested in it, so he decided that this segment was big enough for several players. Aleš bet on similar eco-friendly products because, according to him, it is a trend that is irreversible and will continue to gain momentum. "We can't keep spoiling nature, buying rags that travel more kilometers from processing to finalization than some people do in their entire lives," he clarifies passionately. Therefore, Chateee plans to add other alternatives to its offer, such as organic materials and upcycling.
In addition, last year he managed to launch caps with removable visors, which people can easily treat themselves to. They can also exchange them at will, have one engraved, the other painted.