THERE has been global interest in a fashion accessory designed by a former product manager in the North East to improve the appearance of women who wear tight clothes.
Susan Laurie is stepping up sales of SmoothGroove, a curved polymer strip which helps ensure a smooth front profile for women wearing jeans, leggings and shorts.
She launched it in independent beauty shops, ballet, equine and other specialist sport suppliers, and it is now on the verge of hitting the mass market.
The accessory has been snapped up by Superdrug, and has been placed on sale with a leading Australian online underwear retailer.
Laurie, who worked in the pharmaceutical industry, said: “I’m thrilled with how the product is progressing. Naturally, our market is global, but I never thought I’d be getting requests from the other side of the world quite so soon.
“Some might see this as a frivolous topic, but this is a very real issue for women across the globe, regardless of whether they’re wearing tight-fitting clothing for fashion or more practical reasons. Now we also have a big chance to gain a foothold in the UK market with Superdrug, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed the trial with them is a big success.”
She created the product after becoming increasingly frustrated with not being able to wear certain items in her wardrobe.
The Australian link came about in an unusual fashion, when Susan’s invention became a hot topic on one of the country’s biggest radio breakfast shows.
Owner of Australian site www.socksandundies.com.au, Jason Bousfield explained: “I heard the radio show talking about this new invention called SmoothGroove, and they were having a bit of fun around the subject matter.
“However, I thought the product would be perfect for my site, so I set about tracking down its makers. I’m so glad I found Susan. We’ve only had SmoothGroove on the site a short time, but the response has been fantastic so far.”
She started by putting her own savings and a personal loan into developing and marketing the product and later raised £100,000 from investment firm North Star to protect, market and step up production. The product attracted attention after it was discussed on The Only Way is Essex. SmoothGroove was designed in Sunderland and is made in North Shields.
Laurie, from Rowlands Gill was picked as a small business ambassador by Journal readers and senior business executives in The Journal’s If We Can You Can Challenge 2012.