IN the fall of 2010, as my son was nearing his first birthday, the rain was starting to whisper that the Portland winter was approaching. I went everywhere on foot, and everywhere with my baby, making my baby carrier a basic extension of my body. I loved wearing clothes big enough to fit around the two of us to ensure our snuggly little cocoon together. But I did not particularly love wearing my husband’s jackets, nor did he, and I felt plenty frumpy already.
The day that I was contemplating going to buy some big dumb guys jacket of my own was the day I decided there MUST be something made for this! Well, it turns out there wasn’t… until now.
Having zero experience in the apparel industry (I am a chiropractor), my chatter amongst friends has always been the catalyst to meeting the right people, leading to more chatter, and eventually to a really sweet product. It took 2.5 years from my first meeting at the Portland Garment Factory, to the arrival of my ponchos from Philko Vina Factory in Vietnam.
I worked tirelessly to have these jackets produced locally, or at least domestically. There were so many unreturned phone calls, meetings, prototypes, revisions, introductions, more meetings, more no call-backs, and finally someone who would at least try to do it. You would think I was trying to convince someone to chew on glass or something! In the end, I would have had to sell the poncho for $924 a pop if I had made them here.
Just when I was about to tuck my little jacket into bed and call it a good go, I met a fella named Tripp while kiteboarding who said, “when we were getting started, I could not believe how many negative dream crushers there were out there! Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help…” and thanks to his exhaustive search for his own company’s (Trew Gear) production, I was introduced to my “yes man”, Changmin at Philko Vina.
I cautiously wrapped up my perfect little poncho (it was the 8th generation, so pretty darn good at this point), insured it for way more than it was worth and sent it off to Hanoi, Vietnam. In a matter of months, Changmin and his crew had whipped out three more jacket prototypes, six more baby hoods, and had appeased my every micro request from fabrics, to colors, fleece weights and pocket placements. We really had something that was amazing, and at a price that I can actually offer to you.
I use this jacket every day that I am with my children in the winter here in Portland, Oregon. And I am finding that I am using it quite a bit without them, too. I hope you have a moment to peek at the videos to see why I just can’t get enough of it.
Jess • The Poncho Mama, outdoor maniac, former outward bound instructor, current chiropractor, and mother of two. An appreciator of excellent and thoughtful technical gear, she quickly realized that much of the motherhood industry was not making wares for the truly active parent.
David • Pattern-maker, father, fan of quirky creations. Patiently listened to the poncho dream and made it come alive. Worked with Portland Garment Factory to get it from paper to poncho.
Tamara • Pattern-reviser, engineer, sailor. Brought the first round poncho pattern to a constructive reality.
Tripp • Outdoor apparel creator and enthusiast, optimist, mentor. When the poncho was about to be put on the shelf, Tripp appeared with ideas, encouragement, and key introductions.
Changmin • Poncho producer, communicator extraordinaire, the “yes man.” Enabled the poncho to be produced with the best materials and features.
Michelle • Multi-talented designer, avid baby-wearer, big thinker. Crusader of the Mama Baby Poncho.
Leigh • The Mistress of marketing, active mom, super smart cookie. Shares marketing insight to help Michelle and Jess reach the masses.
Carole • The poncho mama's mama, cheerleader, investor. Helped fund the initial purchase to get our first batch of ponchos. Thanks mom!
Frank • Distribution manager, scooter seller, brutally honest Jersey boy. Gives sage business advice at every turn and gets the ponchos off the shelves and into your hands.
Shanti • General everything person. Answering phones, building websites, pushing ponchos, working with retailers, helping develop out the brand far and wide.