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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

SheFly Launches at Stonecutter

Stonecutter Spirits teemed with life on Thursday, March 14 during the launch of the SheFly Apparel crowdfunding campaign. Faculty, students and town members gathered to celebrate and support the emerging business, which is moving into its next phase following years of hard work from founders and colleagues Georgia Grace Edwards ’18, Bianca Gonzalez ’17.5 and Charlotte Massey ’19. Funds from donations and pre-orders made during and following the launch will help carry the team through their next steps of production.

If you aren’t familiar with the product, here’s what you need to know. SheFly Apparel is a female-founded company that has created a line of layerable women’s outdoor pants with a longer zipper spanning the crotch that makes answering nature’s call safe, efficient and easy. Rather than risking exposure to the elements, dehydration or a pit stop on unsafe terrain, SheFly offers an effortless solution to peeing outdoors. 

And people are catching on to the idea. Online, donations and pre-orders of the pants appear to be increasing by the hour, and the campaign has nearly 5,000 shares on social media. As of Tuesday, SheFly had reached 91 percent of its $15,000 funding goal.

The idea came to Edwards in 2016 when she was working as a glacier guide in Alaska. She faced a serious disadvantage compared to her male co-workers when she needed to use the bathroom. Exposing her body to the elements left her cold for hours and felt like a waste of energy — so much so, that she even resorted to drinking less water on the job so she wouldn’t have to pee. Taking this risk is not uncommon for female outdoor adventurers. 

Edwards eventually united with Gonzalez and Massey, who shared her same passion and struggle. Since then, four more students have joined on their mission, expanding their team of female leaders.

Members of the team were thrilled with the success of Tuesday night’s event.

“We are very happy with the turnout!” Massey said. “Friends and supporters from around Vermont turned out for our raffle and to see the pants, including professors, mentors and even a woman we met on a prototype testing hike last year!”

“I’m abroad right now, but I received so many messages commenting on the awesome turnout from friends and mentors who attended the event and consequently had to do a little celebratory dancing all the way over here in the Czech Republic!” said Edwards, who is currently working abroad on a Fulbright scholarship.

For the past year, SheFly has worked hard to perfect its product, which is almost ready for market. For its crowdfunding campaign, the team is pre-selling two pairs of hiking pants, with about only 250 units left available. Pant options include the “Stealth Pee,” a style with black fabric and black zipper, and the “Bold Pee” which has black fabric highlighted with a colorful zipper. 

Charlotte Massey ’19 holds a prototype of the pants.

Throughout the launch, a prototype was on display and available for people to interact with and ask questions about. People were surprised by the inconspicuous nature of the zipper, which is hidden beneath a flap in the pants. On both variations of the product, wearers can choose to hide or show off their fly, regardless of the color of the zipper. 

Those attending the event also had access to the online fundraising page, where they could scroll and read through the company’s story. It was here that many visitors read about SheFly’s manufacturing partner Visible Clothing, a Fair Trade and zero-waste clothing facility in India. Whatever excess scraps are wasted during the production of the pants are turned into a pulp that can be used by a refugee organization to make notebooks. 

The venue was bursting with a sense of pride and excitement for SheFly, a sentiment that was strengthened by the multitude of outside businesses and companies that pitched in. MiddCakes and Flatbread donated food and the raffle table was filled with unique art pieces, gift cards and skincare products from local Vermont vendors. And, of course, Stonecutter served guests drinks.

“We were especially excited about partnering with Stonecutter Spirits because they are a fellow local, women-led business that actively supports other organizations and companies helping women in the Vermont community, such as WomenSafe,” Edwards said.

Looking ahead, the SheFly team says that it has upcoming plans to sell the pants direct-to-consumer through its online store. In the future, it hopes to expand into retail. In May, Edwards and Massey will deliver a TEDx Talk at TEDxStowe.

The team is currently asking supporters to follow and subscribe to @sheflyapparel on social media and to sign up for their monthly newsletter on the SheFly website. Subscribers will have access to early deals and one-time special announcements. Stay tuned to see what mark this “zipper revolution” makes on the world.