An East Palo Alto startup, Wonder Hoodie, is making body armor more accessible to the general public with what they claim is the world’s first-ever bulletproof hoodie.
The idea for the hoodie came to 25-year-old Vy Tran after her mother's neighbor in Seattle was shot dead during a robbery.
“A couple of years ago, a next door neighbor − a Vietnamese mother of two — was walking home when someone approached her for her purse,” Tran said. “She didn’t want to give it up, so they shot her eight times in the chest and she died right there in front of her home.”
The accident left Tran − who is originally from Seattle but was already living in the Bay Area at the time − feeling uneasy at the thought that she couldn’t do anything to protect her family. So she immediately began searching online for bulletproof gear.
“I couldn’t find anything that was even remotely wearable,” Tran said.
Frustrated with the lack of affordable bulletproof options, Tran decided she would make her own. After a quick search, Tran found body armor designs, purchased the necessary materials and began creating her first prototype.
To make the hoodies bulletproof, Tran uses several layers of Kevlar material.
“So when a bullet hits a bulletproof panel, it disperses the energy through the fabric,” Tran said. “Instead of puncturing, it spreads the impact. So you’re feeling a punch.”
The hoodie comes in sizes for men, women and kids. The Wonder Hoodie also has adjustable velcro straps within the vest for a slim fit and provides bulletproof protection to both the body and head.
According to Tran, Wonder Hoodie meets the NIJ-IIIA standards and is built to defend against .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, 9mm, hollow point ammunition and more.
In an effort to make bulletproof gear more accessible, for every 10 Wonder Hoodies that are sold, the startup promises to donate one to a public school teacher.
“I want people to feel safe walking around their own neighborhoods. I want there to be an option for the people looking for physical safety,” Tran said.