Today we’d like to introduce you to Ali Wigart.
Hi Ali, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I came up with the concept of Bonks many years ago. Although it went through many iterations (and name changes!), the idea has largely stayed in tact: a premium pair of underwear, individually packaged and pre-washed for immediate use. As a woman constantly on-the-go, I had countless times when I felt I could really use a “freshie”. Whether it be from the desk to dinner; the beach to the bars; the airplane to a destination; an all-day music festival or, particularly, when having a little monthly accident.
The real a-ha moment, however, was on a trip to central Mexico. I checked a bag (something I never do!) but it got lost and didn’t arrive to our destination for a day. My mom would ALWAYS tell me, “keep a pair of underwear in your purse at all times in the case your luggage gets lost, you have an accident or you have a life-threatening emergency and the doctor is cute”. Sadly, I didn’t heed her advice. Where we were going had no stores that carried intimates. And the options at local convenience stores were not going to cut it. I needed an at-hand solution that was compact, clean and comfortable. Preferably sold in drug stores, but if they were on my person, that would be an everyday lifesaver.
I have spent my career in apparel design and product development working in both domestic and overseas manufacturing so I was able to use a lot of my skills in developing this product. What I didn’t anticipate was the amount of hiccups and setbacks and major life changes (i.e., having two kids) that would happen during that time that would delay the process. As to date, I’ve had a very successful soft launch with a limited production and am very excited to have my first major round of production on the cutting room floor. There is still a lot of work to be done but I couldn’t be more thrilled to finally see this little concept come to life and into the hands of women everywhere.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has definitely been a long and winding road. For starters, I had this concept at a time when I was fully employed by an apparel company so I wasn’t comfortable acting on it out of fear of legal ramifications. So instead of developing the product, I began workshopping branding ideas and entered into a partnership with a college friend of mine who shared the same passion for the concept. We went through failed trademarks and more name changes than I can remember.
A few months after I had my first child, I decided not to return to full-time employment. It was a very tough decision to make and something I wrestled with for a while. But it gave me the opportunity to be creative for myself which was something I hadn’t had the opportunity to do in my career yet. And something my husband was really supportive of. I dove right into developing the product and packaging design. Then, Covid hit. My husband and I relocated to my family’s home in Lake Tahoe with our baby daughter as a reprieve from LA. Although the early days of Covid were very scary and unprecedented, the simple days and limited distractions allowed me to really focus on the brand. And luckily for me, my factory in China was fully operational. However, soon after I got my first prototype, I found out I was pregnant with my second. This put a ticking time bomb on my calendar: I had to finalize the prototype AND do a beta launch prior to his birth. Because Bonks had turned into something I was putting 100% of my career energy into, my partner, who was fully employed, and I decided to amicably part ways. It was the right decision for us each to make, separately and together.
The challenges of roadblocks and detours are seemingly a constant, but they also make the journey of entrepreneurship more exciting. I have to keep reminding myself that this is part and parcel to building a business, particularly one involving import. My current stress factor is trying to receive my goods prior to the holiday rush of Q4 in a literal sea of idling cargo ships outside the port. Not to mention, my youngest is home with me all day so that poses some very constant, albeit fun, distractions!
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I spent the greater part of my professional career working as a women’s clothing designer for Los Angeles-based apparel companies. I started my career at a women’s contemporary brand called Splendid which was largely domestically made in LA at the time. It was so exciting, hands-on and, at many times, stressful. In one day, we could sketch a concept, get a pattern, hand the fabric off to get cut, sewn and finished, all under the same roof, by day’s end. The most recent company I was employed by was Cherokee Brands (now called Apex Brands). They were 100% manufactured overseas and were largely sold in the international market at mass-market retailers. The companies could not be more different from each other in terms of customer, retail market and manufacturing. The opportunity to diversify my career really helped shape me into a well-rounded designer as I’ve been able to understand the apparel business from the perspective of totally different buyers.
Most practically, having experience in both areas of manufacturing has allowed me to create products for my own businesses: my tshirt company, Perirose (www.perirose.com) is exclusively made locally in L.A. Whereas Bonks is made overseas. Design has been the foundation of my career but it’s the product development side that really lights my fire. This marriage between creative/concept and practicality/production is what I feel gives me an advantage above others. I’ve been incredibly scrappy thus far in the process (i.e. photographed my own product, photoshop designs, built my own website, created my own prints, you name it!) which has definitely taken up a lot of time, but it’s also been extremely educational, cost-saving and FUN.
What am I most proud of? If I could get a bit emo for a minute… in a time where life has become so digitally-centric, it is so gratifying to work in an industry and with a product that is unequivocally tangible.
Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
YouTube tutorials. Lots and lots and lots of YouTube tutorials. (And Cocomelon which has give me more hours than I’d like to admit of a free babysitter.)
- Bonks are $9.00. (That’s right, $9.00.)
- Buy 5 get 1 free!
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.buybonks.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/officialbonks/
- Facebook: https://business.facebook.com/Bonks-103230325454983/