Twenty years and counting – time sure does fly!
Every bird owner knows it—poop happens. It's this well-known fact plus a brilliant idea that has made the FlightSuit such a success—a product that is sold throughout the U.S. and internationally, including distributors in Australia, France, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Israel, the Netherlands, Japan and the Middle East.
The story began over 20 years ago as Mark and Lorraine Moore, both Naval officers and graduates of Old Dominion University, sought to solve the poop problem. Lorraine recalls, "I had a passion for birds and Mark had a passion against cleaning up after them."
So, after a great deal of trial and error, Lorraine developed the first FlightSuit prototype with friend and seamstress, Cely Giron. Lorraine's goal: to let her birds out of their cages more without sacrificing the furniture, and give them some freedom in the car during a cross country military move. So, with FlightSuits in hand, the Moore's embarked on a 14 state trip from San Diego to Watkins Glen, New York.
"People saw our birds with red FlightSuits on and thought they were red-breasted," Lorraine said, "Others thought they were fake, like they were from Disneyland or something." "We generated lots of excitement and got interesting reactions - it was like one big focus group." Mark recalls, "The light bulb that started in San Diego just got brighter and brighter. By the time we unpacked in New York, we had started the patent process."
However, the idea of a bird diaper wasn't without its skeptics. Mark recalls, "When we started in 1997, it was heresy to put a diaper on a bird. Our families thought we were crazy." But the Moore's were convinced that the idea would fly, mostly because it had improved their own lives so much. Lorraine adds, "We thought maybe we should just keep this for our own birds. But I knew it was about educating people."
The idea was born and the internet allowed the Moore's to reach fellow bird lovers around the country. Initially, they operated Avian Fashions from their 1,100 square foot apartment on the Quantico Marine Base. Then, in 2002, they relocated to a home in nearby Stafford, VA in their roomy basement, enlivened by the chatter of pet birds.
Next, they branched out into harnesses and leashes. "What we found is that people liked the idea of the diapers, but once they were taking birds out, they needed a leash to keep them from flying away." Then, as more and more people started taking their birds out and about with them, they wanted to get the birds gussied up—thus Avian Fashions expanded their line to include bird costumes, hoodies and sweaters.
The media has found the concept of FlightSuits very amusing—Avian Fashions has appeared in newspapers, magazines and T.V. programs such as Animal Planet, National Geographic, Good Morning America and a segment on the Comedy Channel's "The Daily Show."
Ducks are birds too! About the same time that Avian Fashions received more and more diaper requests for ducks, they met fellow inventors Alan and Nancy Townsend. The couple had invented a duck diaper harness so they immediately felt a connection. Soon after, Avian Fashions began selling the duck diapers online with orders filled by the Townsend's. They expanded their products from Diapers/Harnesses to Skirts, Bows, Dishes and Carriers. Sadly, Nancy lost her battle with cancer several years ago, but Alan continues to promote his passion and love for ducks as wonderful pets. Alan has remarried and now he and Melissa have carried on the business – they are great additions to the Avian Fashions family.
Another of Avian Fashion's bird products has answered a very serious need – helping birds that pick, chew or mutilate their feathers. The Feather Protectors cover vulnerable areas until new feathers emerge or wounds heal. The Protectors have received rave reviews not only from customers but also from a growing list of avian veterinarians.
2017 marks 20 years for Avian Fashions and this bird business shows no sign of slowing down. The company has recently revamped their website to a more user-friendly, mobile platform and launched a new logo highlighting four distinct product areas: parrots, ducks and goose, pigeons and the newest addition—chickens! Lorraine, along with her staff, continues to create beautiful fashions for the smallest parakeets to the largest macaws—and every bird in between!