Local entrepreneur fills niche market in athletic wear

Posted Březen 15th, 2011 by Billabongboardshortscloths

A 2005 Midland High School graduate, Jake Howison, recently launched Helo LLC, a performance apparel company focused on meeting the needs of specialty markets, such as boardshort undergarments.

“The idea came to me when I was wake-boarding with a group of friends, and the guys were talking about not having anything comfortable and fast-drying to wear under their boardshorts,” Howison said. “I looked at it as an opportunity to introduce a solution that met athletic needs for performance — including durability, breathability and comfort, while also offering style and sustainability too.”

Howison, who holds a marketing degree from Michigan State University, first conducted market research and focus groups to verify demand for a new solution. “Compression shorts are too tight, and other options are too loose and take too much time to dry,” he said. “The door was open for me to introduce the premier undershort for boardshorts.”

He formed Helo LLC, prepared a marketing plan and began a search for quick-drying materials and manufacturers on LinkedIn, a social media network for business professionals. Howison soon partnered with other U.S.-based companies, including a garment concept agency in St. Paul, Minn., a production facility in Los Angeles, a supplier in Rhode Island, and a third-party logistics company to ship the finished product.
This is where Mr O’Neill, who briefly surfed professionally before moving into retail, pulled off the manoeuvre — a drop of 9.8 per cent in constant currency terms is towards the lower end of December’s guidance for a net profit drop of 8-13 per cent.

While primarily designed for boardshorts, the breathable, quick-drying undergarment is also practical for other sports activities too. They are made from an environmentally friendly blend of 80 percent recycled PET and 20 percent spandex for the main short, and an 81 percent nylon and 19 percent spandex breathable mesh inseam. PET is a popular plastic used in products like plastic bottles.

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