Erin Bickley and Jenny Greer aren’t shy when it comes to talking about how they became business partners.
“We started with exercising and in a class and I just felt uncomfortable,” said Bickley. “I felt like there were people all around and I felt like my behind was jiggly and I couldn’t concentrate. I was so nervous about it.”
One day after a class, Bickley said she started searching for pants that would help tighten up her lower body while she worked out.
She found nothing, so she spoke with Greer, who expressed the same concerns.
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“It was an ah-ha moment,” said Greer. “We just couldn’t believe it wasn’t out there.”
Bickley joked, “We both wanted something so we could be like all the cute girls. Why couldn’t we tuck our boots into leggings and wear a sweater and go out?”
The women, both stay-at-home moms with three children each, had no experience in the fashion industry or in garment marketing and production. Bickley said they believed there was a demand for their product.
With motivation and humor on their side, in summer 2009, the two began consulting a patent attorney. With help from a friend in the athletic gear industry, they started work on their product, Hold Your Haunches pants.
“We drew up a sketch of what we envisioned, medical-grade compression being sewn into the actual pants,” Greer said. “We’re playing on the ‘hold your haunches,’ but it goes all the way down to your calves. It doesn’t matter how skinny you are, after you have kids there’s flab.”
After meeting with a fabric broker, they chose a high quality spandex. They also found a company to make the pants, Macon-based Virginia Hall Inc., an apparel manufacturer.
The inventors said they wanted their product to be versatile and not just for the gym.
“Wear it today to exercise and then you come home, wash it and wear it out tomorrow night and you can make it last three days a week for a year without significant fading.” Bickley said.
Greer said the pants are about more than just vanity. With the medical-grade compression she claims the pants: increase circulation, prevent varicose and spider veins, relieve existing veinal conditions and improve posture and reduce swelling.
“Now, everybody talks about compression and girdle,” Bickley said. “Slimming undergarment isn’t a dirty word like it used to be.”
After several samples and tests among friends, Hold Your Haunches began sales to the public in November at $120 a pair.
The pants are marketed with slogans like: “WE designed this for YOU because we are all depressed if not compressed.”
The product has been featured on GalTime.com, a national health, beauty and fashion website. For now, the women have been relying on word of mouth and the Internet to promote Hold Your Haunches, but over the next few months Greer and Bickley will be meeting with public relations professionals to see how they can take their pants nationwide.
Some of those plans include taking their pants to the Boston Marathon. But, they say, it’s not just exercise fanatics that can benefit from their product, they’d also like to tap into the travel, pre- and post-natal and fashion markets.
“The fit is so flattering that women can have this one wardrobe staple to take away the worry of what will she wear to Pilates, out and about during the day and a nighttime black pant,” Bickley said. “Only women know how much time is spent worrying about whether or not something from their closet is showing panty lines, jiggle, muffin top.”
Eventually, they’d like to expand and offer different styles and colors. For now, these entrepreneurs are looking forward to building this company from the bottom, up. “And our goal is that one day we have to give our hubby’s an allowance,” Greer said smiling.
To learn more, visit www.holdyourhaunches.com.