Where do you put your phone while running or working out? It’s a dilemma many active people face that one East Carolina University graduate is working to solve.
Brian Cole ’12 came up with the idea for a special pocket while on campus. “I’d always enjoy running around campus and was a regular at the Rec Center. It seemed every time I ran or worked out, I was always concerned about where to store my smartphone. With men’s shorts especially, the phone tends to shake around. Plus with all the music and fitness apps now, you want to be able to access your phone easily, but still have it be secure when you’re not using it.”
It seemed like all athletic shorts had the same ineffective pocket, so he decided to make a better one.
“I actually sewed the first prototype at my apartment complex during my senior year,” Cole said. “I went to Kohl’s and Michael’s in Greenville and bought some basic shorts and elastic. I quickly realized sewing is not my specialty, so I reached out to industry experts to perfect my design. It took 15 prototypes, but the final product is pretty special.”
This “Secure-Stretch Pocket” is the centerpiece of Cole’s new apparel company, called Falco Sportswear, which he launched earlier this month.
Instead of being built into the side seam like traditional pockets, the Secure-Stretch Pocket is built into the waistband. The opening of the pocket is sealed by an elastic band that opens easily and retracts automatically and stays snug against the waist. Right now the pocket can be found on men’s training shorts available at falcosportswear.com.
“Sales have been pretty good so far,” he says. “But the main goal right now is getting the word out and getting eyes on our product.”
Rather than individual sales, Cole’s priority at this point is getting the shorts in the hands of athletes and industry experts, who can generate press through blog entries and product reviews in running and training publications.
Cole was able to produce a few hundred pairs of shorts with some money he had saved. All the shorts are made in the US, which makes prices a bit high for individual sales, but Cole is working on getting the cost down and looking to see if sporting goods retailers would be able to purchase and carry the shorts.
“Our focus is on innovation,” Cole said. “We have to be able to provide something different. We can’t compete with big companies like Under Armour or Nike. For us, it’s not about a logo or brand prestige. We need to be authentic to our original purpose and provide a unique solution to meet the needs of athletes.”
Right now, Cole is the only employee at his company, but he is quick to credit his family and friends, including other ECU graduates, for giving him lots of help and support.
In the long-term, Cole hopes to expand his line of apparel to women and across various sports.
Cole credits ECU with preparing him for this venture. He earned his degree in construction management with a minor in business. After graduation, he started working on construction sites in Washington, DC, where he is originally from. But he found he enjoyed designing and creating things himself rather than managing others who do so. So he decided to pursue his project full-time.
“ECU has so many resources for students,” Cole said. “I went to the career center, and the curriculum encourages involvement in activities and supports guest speakers. ECU lays a great foundation for life after college. It puts you in the right mindset to be ready post-college and make it a smooth transition.”
By Jackie Drake