From necessity comes invention, and from the need to store everyday essentials in a convenient and stylish way came BANDI Wear. Locals Beth Koenig and Bev Vance Perrea were busy, on-the-go moms with active lifestyles who wanted a way to stash their phones, cash and keys without overloaded pockets, clunky purses and traditional bulky fanny packs.
“We realized there wasn’t any alternative out there that we would wear for fitness and everyday use,” Perrea says.
In fall 2010, the two came together with an idea for a sleek running belt and headband with a hidden interior pocket that would secure and carry goods during all types of activity. They wanted a product that was not only functional for everyday use, but trendy as well. Koenig and Perrea came up with a unique design made from stretchy spandex knit material that looks like a folded-over yoga pant waistband when worn. The union between functionality and fashion made BANDI Wear a product and brand they believed had potential to become nationally recognized.
“When Beth and I landed upon the idea, there was no way we could pass it up,” Perrea says. “Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.”
They officially launched BANDI Wear at the Flying Pig Marathon in 2012 and their start as a small Cincinnati business quickly evolved into a nationally recognized product.
Their first national media exposure occurred on The Today Show.
“We knew that there was a standing joke about Kathie Lee Gifford having a dorky fanny pack and loving it,” Koenig says. “We took a chance and sent in some samples, hoping they would bite, and they did.”
BANDI Wear was also featured on Good Morning America during Tory Johnson’s “Deals and Steals” segment. Following their national exposure, sales exceeded the company’s expectations and catapulted their business to a new level of success.
“We are so busy that we really haven’t sat back to enjoy what we have accomplished,” Koenig says. “When we stop and really think about it, it’s almost surreal that our little creation has been on national TV and that we have thousands of customers across the United States and even abroad.”
With the growing popularity of fitness events, Koenig and Perrea believe BANDI Wear came at a fortunate time. Because of the heightened fitness craze, active wear is becoming everyday street wear. “Now, fitness isn’t just a part of our life, it’s in our fashion,” Koenig says.
Koenig and Perrea often spend their weekends traveling to different events, expos and trade shows to spread the word about the versatility behind their product. BANDI Wear’s pocketed fashion belt was initially designed for runners, walkers, bikers and hikers who wanted to conveniently have their necessities on hand while they exercise. The belt has, however, crossed over into countless other uses outside the fitness market. Consumers use them to discretely store passports for travel, stow away tickets and IDs at sporting and concert events, and they are even becoming widely used within the medical community for storing asthma inhalers, insulin shots and other medical supplies that are needed on hand.
As the heart and soul of the company, Koenig and Perrea work around the clock, devoting long hours to fuel their passion behind their brand. BANDI Wear is not a hobby but a labor of love for the two women.
“There are many sacrifices to starting and growing a small business,” Perrea says.
“It is like we have given birth to another child and we want to give it everything we have, as we did with our real kids,” Koenig adds. “This is a child of a completely different nature though, and it doesn’t always fit in with ‘family life’, so that is a challenge.”
For future plans, they want to continue to grow BANDI Wear and believe it has the potential to become a national brand. They’re excited to be a part of the small business community in Cincinnati, joining Findlay Market during the weekends in the summer season and the upcoming Flying Pig Marathon Sunday.
“We would have never thought when we came up with the idea that our vision and hard work would take us this far,” Perrea says. “We solved our own problem with a product that it turns out is just what other busy, active women need and love.”
For more info on BANDI WEAR , visit bandiwear.com .