A writer-turned-inventor, Darrah's “aha” moment came several years ago when she stumbled on a unique concept that would bring comfort to an otherwise uncomfortable product: hosiery. “Most tights dig in the middle of your waist,” explains Darrah. “Mine are super comfy.” If you've ever worn tights, then you are most likely nodding along and want to read more.
Darrah set about tracking down a pattern-maker and developing a prototype that she could eventually submit for a U.S. patent. The end result is a super-soft pair of tights, as comfortable to wear as a pair of leggings, with a waistband that flares out from one's waist so that it shifts and adjusts to the waistline, rather than dig in and fight against it.
But the battle to create that pattern, receive its patent and produce the tights took plenty of time, money and willpower.
Darrah knocked on every single hosiery mill door in the country and eventually got one to produce her design, despite them tripling the manufacturing cost – her design requires hands-on detailing that continued to bring “nos.” However, one “yes” finally kept the ball rolling. Despite setbacks from patent infringement, losing one mill but then sourcing another, and having to learn it all on her own, Darrah persevered.
So how did she do it? And how did she keep going when everything seemed to work against her?
“I just kept going,” says Darrah. “My family and friends would encourage me. One thing might go wrong, but then another would go right.”
Darrah eventually received overwhelming support from crowdfunding, and as of the spring of 2018, has shipped product to her initial investors. Her website and company, LOHO (Low-Rise Hosiery) is also launched, boasting opaque and sheer options for sale in sizes 0 – 22.
The initial hard work may be done, but the journey is far from over. Darrah is like many BECU business members – juggling multiple hats and jobs as she goes from inventor to entrepreneur. And like many trying to make it on their own, Darrah has been grateful for the moments when she can save money.
“Being with BECU has been great,” says Darrah, who was with a commercial bank that charged her fees because she didn't have required minimums in her accounts. Now, at BECU, she doesn't pay those fees. Plus, as the photo contest winner, she just received a $250 Visa® gift card.
What's next for Darrah? She potentially has an exciting opportunity with a Northwest company. She listens to her group of crowdfunding supporters, and wants to develop the products that they want. And, she hopes to design her same comfortable tights for kids, too. You can always learn more at her website.
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