Melissa (Johnson) Krumanocker, B.A.’09, and Zane Krumanocker, B.S.’09

American Dreamers

By Carol Olechowski

Melissa (Johnson) Krumanocker, B.A.’09, and Zane Krumanocker, B.S.’09

Zane Krumanocker defines the American Dream as “the never-ending pursuit of reaching your goals and enjoying every minute of your life. Both are easier said than done.”

Still, he and Melissa, married since August 2013, are giving the effort their all. The founders of Cape Crabbers, which Melissa describes as “a nautically inspired lifestyle brand,” are “having fun creating a product that people are excited to wear” while “making it a point not to take our brand too seriously.” 

Ironically, the couple brainstormed the line of T-shirts, hats and other beachwear on a raw winter day in 2009. “The whole idea was to work toward living on the Cape one day,” recalls Melissa, who spent childhood summers with her family on Cape Cod. “I was doodling on a napkin and drew Petey the Crab [the  firm’s first logo], and Zane came up with the name ‘Cape Crabbers.’ After a while, we rebranded the company with our signature CC anchor logo.”

The 27-year-olds “work only with domestic manufacturers,” Zane says. To launch the business, “we learned to sew, screen print and finish many of our products in-house.” In 2012, they lived briefly on Cape Cod, “spreading the word about our quality made-in-U.S.A. apparel,” notes Melissa. Now back in the Albany area, the Krumanockers conduct most company business online (     

Growing up in Troy, N.Y., the pair exemplified the entrepreneurial spirit. “Melissa opened a lemonade stand annually on the side of the road by her grandparents’ pool,” remembers Zane, a formerly self-employed landscaper and DJ. He earned a degree in business administration; “I felt the program would be a great jumping-off point for whatever path I wanted to take,” Zane comments.  

Initially a seasonal enterprise, Cape Crabbers now operates year-round, reports Melissa, who studied communication and psychology at UAlbany. “Two summers ago, about 80 percent of our sales were made on Cape Cod, or online to people in and around the area. Today, we have sales in every single state across the country. It’s really kind of crazy!” 

“Business has steadily grown,” Zane adds, “and for that we are incredibly thankful. When we started, we would make lists of friends  and family we thought would be willing to support the brand. It was silly, but it helped us realize the importance of recognizing your target market.”