Like most great ideas, Danieal Cormier, 20, got his while lounging in his underwear.
“I was just home alone wearing my underwear one day and I had my cell phone,” Cormier said. “I was going from room to room and I kept doing the motion to put my phone in my pocket, but there was no pocket.”
Thinking something as practical as boxers with pockets should already exist on the Internet, Cormier did a search. Nothing. “That same day, I went and bought a sewing machine, fabric, everything. And I made my first pair.”
It was then when Danieal | Underwear with pockets, was created. With the first pair turning out successful, Cormier started selling his creation on a small scale at Etsy.com, a popular website for crafters worldwide to sell their art. Noticing they were selling well, even with his amateur sewing, he decided to take the risk and bring his underwear to the next level.
“That’s when I shut everything down for a few months to find a manufacturer and perfect everything,” Cormier says. “I rebranded the whole company again just to get it ready for a big launch.” Now Cormier has a manufacturer in India and has his pocketed underwear for sale at Saint John’s trendy men’s boutique Ready Man and Fredericton lingerie store Elle Mio.
He also has another customer, the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital gift shop. “At first I had the idea of marketing them towards people who like spending a lazy day at home and just still wanted to wear their underwear and still have pockets,” Cormier says. “But after selling them on Etsy, I got a lot of feedback from people. There was one person in particular who changed my whole idea about it.”
This person needed an insulin pump, and before he discovered Danieal underwear, had to wear pants to bed every night. “He said when he found my underwear, he was so happy because he can actually wear underwear to bed now and still have his insulin pump in a pocket,” Cormier says. “That got the whole medical side of everything sparked in my head.”
Cormier doesn’t have a business degree, or a lot of education in entrepreneurship. Based in Quispamsis, he also didn’t have places like Planet Hatch or Launch 36 to show him the way. He used his instincts, creativity and best judgment. Though it’s worked out so far, he admits the journey has been a scary one.
“You have to invest a certain amount of money into it and right now it’s been a lot of money invested for marketing, logos, trademark and getting the product itself,” Cormier says. “’It’s like ‘am I going to get that money back?’” So far, he has.
Though Cormier has a different background from the young entrepreneurs I’ve chatted with from the Pond-Deshpande Centre, he shares one thing in common with them: the desire to his own boss.
“Growing up, my father owned his own business, and I just seen the flexibility that gave him . . . I thought ‘that’s what I want to do too,’” he says. “I wanted to work for myself and have my own company, and this was the first opportunity that I thought of and I really hope that this takes off.”
Though things have been great so far, don’t expect to see Danieal undies on runways anytime soon. “I’m not too focused on expanding or being the new Calvin Klein,” Cormier says. “I don’t want that at all.”
Instead, he is focused on getting the word out about his product. He says it’s the product that he’s passionate about, not the company. “I want people to be able to experience the convenience of it, and the full experience of underwear with pockets,” he says. “I know it seems kind of funny, but I’ve become so passionate about it. And that’s where I want the company to go.”
Cormier’s advice for young entrepreneurial pioneers? Dive in! But make sure you have a plan, especially with finances. “If you think you have a good idea and you think people are going to enjoy it, I say just do it, because you never know what can take off.”
Cherise Letson is a freelance journalist based in Saint John N.B. Find out what she’s up to at @CheriseLWrites.