Blossom Wear undergarments with intellectual property
Startup entrepreneur Tena Gonzales says she's been proving people who doubt her abilities wrong for most of her life. Encouraging that kind of strength through confidence is the underlying principle for her patented undergarment innovation for women.
"Blossom Wear is a bra and panty set designed to empower women," she says. "Special pockets allow the convenience of discreetly carrying feminine hygiene products with the additional comfort of a built-in panty guard to prevent leaks."
Since coming up with the idea about ten years ago, Gonzales says she's perfected her pitch about her practical solution to something most women don't even openly discuss. "I've talked with a lot of marketing and manufacturing companies over that time. The majority of my contacts have been men. I've figured out how to have the conversation about what is a taboo subject to some people while still making it a productive conversation."
Gonzales says talking with her daughter as she prepared to enter womanhood sparked the idea for Blossom Wear. "I didn't want her or any other girl to encounter the same kind of embarrassing moments that my friends and I had growing up. I wanted to alleviate the anxiety and stress which can come with that phase of life. That transformed into my products' design," she says.
Gonzales' path to developing her idea began with a conversation with one of her MBA professors at Wayland Baptist University. Gonzales later contracted with a private firm to conduct a feasibility study and assist with intellectual property filings. It helped her develop a virtual prototype and secure a design patent in 2012. A marketing firm is currently soliciting companies to enter into a manufacturing license agreement with her.
Throughout the process, Gonzales has also been in contact with representatives from the Small Business Development Center. She says, "I've been looking for a local manufacturer that could make actual prototypes for me to help with marketing my designs. That would cost money, of course, and I would need to raise capital to pay for it. So the SBDC encouraged me to look into the competitions at the Texas Tech Innovation Hub."
In October, Gonzales participated in the Hub's Red Raider Startup program. Next, she entered the Red Raider Idea Competition, a video pitch contest to collect fan favorite votes from online viewers. The iLaunch Competition followed. She won third place and a $1,000 prize. Gonzales says, "iLaunch was real validation for my efforts so far. It helped give me focused direction on where I want to go and what I can do more of on my own, too."
Gonzales is now a finalist applicant for the Texas Tech Accelerator program. "I kept getting encouragement from everyone here to go on to the next thing. The people at the Hub have always been helpful to me and give me great support," she says.
"Initially, I entered the programs and competitions as a way to gain additional funding and exposure for my products," Gonzales says. "Having access to the Hub mentors' expertise and advice has been a real plus. It's so helpful to be able to pick those people's brains, learn about forming a business entity, and look into what other new things I could do with the patent I own."
For Gonzales, hustle is the constant drive to do more. It's also about knowing that she's in charge of who she is and where she's going. "Since middle school, I've had to out-perform others to be considered somewhat equal in many places. If somebody tells me I can't do something, it just further pushes me to prove them wrong," she says." I tell my sons and daughter there are no excuses. I want to leave a legacy for them. I want to be an example for them. And for me and all the effort that's gone into Blossom Wear, it seems like things are falling right into place."