28 Feb Featured VentureMoms – Jenny Greer & Erin Bickley – Hold Your Haunches
“The minute the name of our brand was uttered on TV, our lives changed forever.”
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On a walk, she was wearing Spanx under her leggings when a light bulb went off. Jenny Greer and Erin Bickley are two moms from Macon, GA who met through their husbands. All four went to the University of Georgia and love the Bulldogs. Several years and 6 kids later, the women had no plans to start a business. Jenny had been a paralegal before kids and Erin was a part time floral designer.
But now with 6 children ages 13 – 22 between them, the two women often talked about wanted something of their own to work on, maybe some kind of business. On that walk, explaining to her friend how she loved the look the Spanx over her yoga pants provided, Jenny asked Erin, “Why doesn’t someone make these?” After a pause, Erin replied, “Why don’t we make them?”
They ended their walk by googling what they wanted and couldn’t find it. This started them down a path. “Shapewear is a billion-dollar industry. Women wear their yoga pants around all day for more than just exercise, hence the whole athleisure trend. Our age group wants our bodies to look tight but we need a little help. This is a no brainer.” Their first phone call was to an attorney to file for a patent on pants with a compression liner.
The next step, Jenny and Erin starting looking for fabrics in Atlanta and through college friends, landed upon a fabric broker. “We didn’t even know there was such a thing, but she helped us source the two fabrics we would need for our prototype.” Another friend referred them to a seamstress in Denver. “Let’s talk about this glamourous side of starting our business, we went to ski in Colorado and we tried on the pants at baggage claim on a layover.”
As fate would have it, there was a manufacturer right in their home town of Macon who made compression garments for post plastic surgery patients. Jenny recalls, “After the 2008 financial crash, plastic surgeries were down in numbers, and this manufacturer needed a new product. That’s when we walked in the door.” The company said yes and right away, Jenny and Erin shipped the bolts of fabric necessary to make their first run of boot cut pants.
About the name, “We fully embrace the art of self-deprecation and wanted a name to go with our personalities. Hold Your Haunches slid right off our tongues the minute we thought of the idea. The pants will hold your haunches – literally.” The two women felt they could build a brand around humor, “You have to be able to laugh at yourself and admit your flaws.” Jenny had a background with horses and loved the alliteration of the name. Their tag line goes with their personalities, “’cause a girl has a right to look tight.”
Their first sales came from a trunk show before Christmas with friends. The responses, “Where have these been? Why hasn’t anyone thought of this?” From trunk shows to ecommerce, Hold Your Haunches grew organically. They expanded to different styles and colors over the next several years.
Then they got a phone call…..from Shark Tank. Nine months later, their episode aired. “It was such a great experience. We knew if we partnered with a Shark that we’d have their input and support so we did it.” Hold Your Haunches sold out in 24 hours and they had to place two more bulk orders to cover the sales that the show generated. That was when they knew it was time to set up an office and warehouse. “The minute the name of our brand was uttered on TV, our lives changed forever.”
Jenny and Erin say they do sell to some retailers but 90% of sales are on line, “We have more control over the brand that way. The best thing about having our own business is we like knowing our success is up to us. It’s a 24/7 job but it’s all ours.”
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