When Kim Epp Frenette, of Waxhaw NC, got the chance to travel to Rome, Italy, and the Alps with her family, she did what almost every woman does. She packed her day gear in a backpack so she could go hands free and stuck her cell phone in her front pocket. While walking through a meadow where the Sound of Music could have been filmed, she tried to take photos of her kids running through the flowers. But she had to stop, dig in her pocket, and then pull out the phone for photos before stopping to wedge her phone back in the pocket to keep walking. But what if she didn’t have to attempt to struggle with the small front pocket on her jeans? Or dig through a backpack for chapstick or her keys? Frenette realized that “True value is allowing you to do what really matters.” And what really mattered was spending more time in the moment, not struggling with pockets.
Once she was home from her trip, Frenette started working on the TuckTop. A shirt that would allow women to access the things they needed most often without adding bulk and without having to carry a purse. Frenette says, “The TuckTop™ is a shirt with enough discreetly placed pockets so women can “tuck” their essentials: keys, cell phone, credit cards, ID, lipstick, sunglasses, etc. One of my taglines is “freedom you wear” because it is a great feeling to walk around with your hands free. Next time you are in a public space notice how the guys are walking around hands free and the women are loaded down with purses, or wallets and cell phones in their hands. Men’s clothes have pockets but women get very limited options – pockets that are too small, or look unattractive when actually used, or worse – fake pockets. The TuckTop™ is my effort for pocket equality!”
It took Frenette a while to decide on a name for her new product. “I literally have dozens of pages in various notebooks filled with name ideas! Finally I decided to go simple and literal: what is this really? It is a top you can tuck stuff in. Ergo – TuckTop. Women have been starved of decent pockets for so long that we don’t expect them; I wanted to be very clear about the concept in the name so women didn’t think it was just another cute shirt.”
“I joke about pocket equality, but what really motivates me to pursue this business is that, in a modest but important way, it is empowering women. It is freeing their hands to focus on what matters to them. Women are such an awesome force to make things happen. Fashion should be at our service, not the other way around.” The TuckTop™ design is patent pending and is available in two colors as well as a long sleeve version. “There are specific and unique functional design elements that come together so it can to hold items without looking bulky. On many women it actually has a sliming effect. “Shirt with pockets” sounds simple, but it is actually pretty complex. It wasn’t easy to find a manufacturer capable of making it.”
Frenette moved to Waxhaw three years ago with her family and fell in love with the area. With North Carolina’s rich history in textiles, it only made sense that she would find a local producer to work with to make the TuckTop™. She searched for and found Carolina Cut and Sew, a small women owned factory in Mt Gilead, NC, and in Fall of 2017, they completed their first small production run followed soon by her first sales during the 2017 Holiday Season. She mentioned, “We work directly with women’s groups and charities (email email@example.com for info) and I am talking to a few boutiques. People can follow us on facebook.com/tucktop to find out where we will be, or they can sign up for our newsletter on the website.” Frenette is showcasing the top at some local festivals like Waxhaw’s Kaleidoscopefest but the best way to get one for yourself online at www.tucktop.com.