Three moms open a business with a promising bottom line
By Malcolm Parry, Vancouver Sun May 20, 2010
BABY BOTTOMS: Who but young mothers would perceive a business opportunity in making bloomers for babies and toddlers? As for why, "With the advent of disposable diapers, pants had disappeared," said mother-of-one Zoe Flower, referring to the once-common waterproof kind.
"Especially in the summer, when you don't want your children in more than their diapers, they're not dressed [without pants]," added Rachel Boguski, who has two little ones.
"And if you want to get bloomers, you have to buy a dress, too," said mother-of-two Anna Day.
Dunbar-raised Boguski had hoped to found a home-based business with West Vancouverite Day, who like Ginch-Gonch adult-underwear firm founder Jason Sutherland, hails from Terrace. Their scheming came to bloom, literally, with longtime friend Flower, who was born in Tumbler Ridge and trained as a graphic designer at Vancouver Film School. An innate entrepreneur, Flower wrote, produced and directed 39 half-hour episodes of the extreme-sport series Hardcore Candy for the Women's Sports Network. She also had careers in motion-picture animation and video-games production. "But it was hard to balance that with motherhood," said Flower, who is expecting a second child momentarily.
The upshot was Playpants ( http://www.playpants.ca/) which the three established as a partnership last fall and will incorporate this year. The name was coined by Boguski's husband Colin ( "I was so annoyed," she said), who is Langara College's international marketing manager. The partners then took a crash course in manufacturing from Tumbler Ridge-born bridal designer-retailer Caroline Owens-Calvert, completed their business plan, appointed a local factory and acquired fabric for a first order of 2,000 Playpants.
The set a price point of $15.95, so people could buy multiple pairs, but were surprised when organic-fabric variants sold more strongly at $24.95. "They fit in the baby-shower pricing," Flower said. "Buyers don't even bat an eye."
An upmarket range, Fancypants, is planned. "But we wouldn't go above $40," Flower said. Also pending are garments for children to age six. But Playpants will not offer an adult line "that is requested mostly by men," said Boguski, even though West Vancouver-based Kathy Pettigrew has seemingly hit a homer with her Brazilian-themed Vivvos line. Meanwhile, Boguski has test-sewn a range of possible tops for children.
"Not this year, though." Flower said firmly. "For us, now, it's all about the bottom line."