She Fly Apparel, Middlebury
The best business ideas solve problems. She Fly Apparel, founded by two recent graduates of Middlebury College and supported by a team of Middlebury students, addresses a dilemma every adventurous woman faces in the great outdoors: how to pee with privacy and comfort. Using innovative zipper and flap technology, the company’s line of layerable outdoor pants puts a feminine spin on the traditional fly, enabling women to “go on the go” without having to disrobe.
“We began working on She Fly because we frequently found ourselves (like so many women!) in situations where we felt uncomfortable answering nature’s call in the outdoors due to cold weather, bugs, or a lack of privacy, and when we looked to the market, we couldn’t find any existing solutions that properly addressed the problem,” explained She-Fly co-founder, Bianca Gonzalez. “This became especially obvious as a pain point when my co-founder, Georgia Grace Edwards, was working on a glacier in Alaska and peeing turned into a daily hassle that began to affect her health.”
The student entrepreneurs set out to develop outdoor pants suited to women’s bodies and needs. Thanks to a partnership between Middlebury College and the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC), the women quickly joined forces with business advisor Sarah Kearns, “who has consistently kept us on track and looking to our end goal,” Gonzalez said.
Kearns helped the women with issues faced by most first-time entrepreneurs: determining their direction, developing a strategy, prioritizing tasks, and coming up with a communications plan. She has also been an attentive ear for bouncing around ideas and a source of inspiration, Gonzalez said.
“VtSBDC and Sarah Kearns, our advisor, have been immensely helpful in giving us direction and helping us always think of the next step,” Gonzalez said. Kearns has encouraged them to stay focused on the big picture and not get bogged down by the details, she added.
What else have they learned through their work with VtSBDC? “Get your product out and tested!”, Gonzalez said. “And keep things in perspective. If it seems as if your business is making small baby steps, these are essential to move forward.”
Several months into their business venture, Gonzalez and Edwards have relocated their company from Middlebury to Burlington, while developing a strong online presence.
“We are helping to craft a future where women don’t have to think twice about joining others outside—where we are free to truly appreciate all that nature has to offer while remaining comfortable in our bodies and our clothing,” Gonzalez said.