Putting the fun in functional clothing
Bella came up with the idea for underwear with pockets, forming a business to sell her new products. But that's not the only idea she's had. At the end of 2021, just as she had turned 15, Bella came up with another idea: a hoodie with a useful pocket.
Bella had always liked hoodies, but thought the pocket on them wasn't especially helpful. She couldn't store her phone or medical supplies without them falling out. That's when she came up with the idea of a hoodie with a pocket that was practical- and not just a decoration. Hoodies proved to be a popular choice since they are so widely worn by people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. As a teenager, hoodies are a staple of her wardrobe, both for comfort and style, and can come in handy in South Florida where frigid air conditioning is constantly used to combat the heat.
First and foremost, Bella focused on the functionality of the new pocket when it came to designing this hoodie. She wanted to create a hidden pocket to store her medical supplies or everyday necessities. As Bella worked on the utilitarian aspect of the hoodie, she turned to the graphic design element, as well. Since she had been taking an art class at school, she was able to take bits and pieces from the abstract artwork she admired to create a fun design that could be worn and appreciated by anyone. Mostly, she yearned to create a hoodie that stayed in line with the worry-free concept, a way to bring joy to children in hospitals.
As Bella began to build her design around those concepts, she initially approached it by using splashes of color. Her first graphic design was the #worryfree one surrounded by orange, yellow, white, and blue colored blobs. Later in the process, she began to collaborate with Dawn Carrington, her creative director, to polish the final graphic designs and create new ones using inspirational quotes and different colors. In the end, Bella decided on the original #worryfree graphic design on the hoodie with the special internal pocket. The other designs were utilized on her business’ apparel, consisting of t-shirts and regular hoodies.
As for the internal pocket on the hoodie itself, Bella worked with her mother to test options. They tried buttons, clasps, and Velcro to see how they would fare for the pocket. In the end, they decided on a specific type of zipper that was both sturdy and reliable without being bulky.
Annette Lennerup, their designer/product developer, helped Bella and her mother look for a manufacturer that would be able to make the hoodie they envisioned. Annette liaison with the manufacturers, developed the technical sheets, and distributed them to the manufacturers. Bella and her mother reviewed the proposals she had collected, deciding which manufacturer to use based on the production timeframe and the quality of the work. Bella says that without Annette's help, it would have taken much longer to get the hoodie to market.
They received several different prototypes of the hoodie. The first was light gray with silver clasps- not zippers- and a lime green hood. Needless to say, this was not what the entrepreneur had envisioned, and they went through several more rounds of prototypes. For the most part, they were not happy with the colors, the pocket, or the material. Subsequently, they kept on working to find the best version of their product. After eight months- longer than they had wanted- they finally got the prototype they were looking for.
What Bella likes most about the hoodies is the hidden pocket. She feels this addresses a need- the need for practical pockets in all types of clothing. The pocket can hold a number of different items from catheters, to epipens, to even your wallet! And because it's right there in front of you, stealing would be much more difficult, meaning your valuables are protected. Most of the time, people wouldn't even notice the pocket- there would be nothing out of the ordinary about it. Only if someone were to show the zipper of the hidden pocket would anyone know it was there.
Those who have bought a hoodie - and seen the usefulness of the pocket - like it. Bella says everyone has noted how convenient it is to have a hidden pocket in a hoodie.
Bella has a bunch of other ideas, too. First the children’s underwear, then the hoodies, and now she and her mother have been working on a line of underwear for young adults. This underwear has the same concept as the My Private Pocket underwear, but with some enhancements such as a protective liner to prevent leakage. They have been working on creative designs and using comfortable material to come up with the best product they can. After using customer feedback to make the appropriate changes to their product, the mother and daughter duo are now patiently awaiting their new prototypes.