PortaPocket…by Undercover Solutions, LLC
Lose the worry…not your stuff. Versatile PortaPocket hands-free carrying cases keep your ID, cell & other essentials handy & safe, no matter what you’re wearing. Go from a workout to a night out…and everywhere in between.
Make your life easier with these comfy, versatile, sweat resistant hands-free carry cases that work almost ANYwhere on your body, and either under or over your outfit. They’re detachable/interchangeable and easy to use. Excellent to safely carry your ID, cash, cards, keys, cell, makeup & hygiene items, passports, medical devices, more. Excellent for working out, going out, travel & everyday. Lose the worry…not your stuff.
Interview with Kendra Kroll
What’s the story behind your product?
Was quite the embarrassment…! Tampon fell out at the gym. in the middle of a set of some flat bench flyes… rolled across floor. did not see for 10 min, Only female there. Was uber red faced and got mad, so decided to solve my problem. And I DID!
What were you doing prior to starting your business?
I was in the special event business for 17 years (tenting and equipment)…was an industry I LOVED then had a child and was (technically) forced out of my job (all male office). Got into real estate (fall of 2005)…market crashed, then the tampon “accident” in ’07, quit RE in 2010… and now I’m here!
Tell us a little about your family and personal life.
Married since 2000 to James (that’s his arm on my home page 😉 ..he’s got doctorate in EE; works as project manager for OPW (fuel pump systems), He doesn’t like it much, so want this business to really WORK so he doesn’t have to! lol
Our only (human) child is daughter Angelina who’s 10 and in 4th grade. yes, she likes to dance (Angelina ballerina) & also loves basketball, art, music, biking and YouTube. She’s very creative and headstrong (sounds like someone I know 😉 And though she was born with a hearing loss, it doesn’t stop her from ANYthing!
Our dog Sasha (from a shelter) just turned 15 in mid May… she’s a sweetie mix of unknown origin but likely Lab/Shepherd & some Chow (black tongue).
We live in NW ‘burbs of Chicago in a late 1930s (though later expanded) Cape Cod that looks like a little English cottage.
I’m a huge Bears fan and just started watching the Cubs again after a self-imposed exile of a few yrs (after 30 + yrs of pain).
James & I are gym goers (4-5x wk), ea for over 30 yrs & met at a Bally’s Gym back in ’98.
I LOVE to travel!! Now I need more $$ and time… so I can 😉
When you started your business, what did you hope to get out of it? What were your goals and dreams?
On a mission to solve the inconvenience of pocket-challenged outfits everywhere. Hope is to be as popular and accepted as SPANX. My product is equally confidence-building, albeit in a different way.
Who has been your inspiration or your mentor through your business journey?
what mentor? 😉 …don’t really have one, although I highly appreciate our group and other creative women there!!
What accomplishments with your business have been the most rewarding? What are you proud of?
Nothing like getting calls from pleased clients and hearing their stories of why they found me and what a difference this has made to their lives. Thrilled to have gotten PortaPocket on TODAY show (by myself) and all the positive reviews and feedback of appreciation. Loved the Fox News piece about PortaPocket being successfully used on rides at Six Flags (big thumbs UP).
What have been the toughest lessons you have learned since starting your business?
it’s not about who has the better product that hits the business home run. VERY hard to watch other, less versatile and less useful products have way more commercial success. Hard to understand why. Difficult to digest why people are not more about FUNCTION than FASHION. but who said life was fair ;/
Have you discovered any great business tools that have been valuable to your business? If so, what were they?
have liked the insights of peek by user testing.
HARO has been decent, and the others like it (SourceBottle, etc)
Canva,.. though need to do more with it.
SpotHero great for when want to park in the city 😉
Just starting to utilize DropBox, MailChimp, ShippingEasy
Signals (though not sure how the links appear to mail recipients…may add too long a code?)
Is there any advice you wish someone would have gave you before you started your business? What would you tell someone stating your journey?
It’s always much harder and more expensive than you ever imagined.
Think a factor of 10+!
BUT the (emotional) rewards can be tremendous, if not the financial ones at first. There’s nothing more gratifying than giving birth to an idea and seeing it come to life. Especially when people LOVE what you’ve created and which they derive great benefits 🙂
What major obstacles have you encountered in your business? How did you overcome them?
Hearing: NO. No. no.no. no. pass. not interested. not now. too overloaded. too busy. I don’t ‘get’ it. I don’t see the point. ..and on it goes…
I just ignore the naysayers and still keep going.
Lack of funding (all by self); so now being conservative w/manufacturing runs and expenses.
Lack of help (still working on that one)!
Did you make any major decisions in your business journey that drastically changed your level of success? What were they? How did those decisions help you?
Decided that retail is a waste of time (at least for now). Until people even understand what PortaPocket IS…noone is actively looking for it and merchandisers are NOT the Evangelists you would hope for or want, They will NOT bang the drum for you.
So I saved myself from more aggravation of yet additional packaging designs, POP displays, sell sheets and all that crap which is one less burden to deal with
What were the biggest surprises for you? Where were your expectations different from how it actually is to have a business? Is it easier or more difficult? Does it take more time? Is it rewarding in a different way than you thought it would be?
Is was quite surprising that people are so flip and have no consideration or care. Many people never return calls or respond in any way. I’ve had products stolen, been lied to more times than I can count, been ignored, disregarded and belittled. Sales reps/ rep groups have been horrendously disappointing if not outright USELESS.
It is MUCH more difficult to break through the bullshit and get any meaningful traction despite having a highly relevant product which is uniquely poised to solve TODAY’s problems.
Had no idea it would be so hard to affect a minor shift in people’s thinking which would bring great benefits to them should they make an effort. So many people are apparently such creatures of habit they have no interest in change… even if that change is good (and BETTER) for them.
Way more time consuming (I’m on year 8 and still stuck in starting gate). but highly rewarding to see people use and enjoy what PP does for them.
What unique talents, strengths or assets did you bring to your business that helped you succeed?
tenacity. I will NEVER give up.
creativity. Or I would never have made this in the 1st place
drive. Self motivation to see this work
detail mindedness. Nuances matter.
receptiveness. Open to other’s ideas and inputs (that’s how my logo gal came about, the EpiPen pocket, and belt loops on pocket backs, among other things)
have no shame. Need guts to be able to walk around Chicago (etc) with a giant leg strapped to your back… lol!
What else should people know about you and/or your business?
looking to find partner (on this side of the pond) who can effectively silk screen on my pocket fronts to customize for specific groups
looking for license opps so if you know anyone in a place of interest, please do share!
May just end up doing it myself, and if so, perhaps a partner to be brought on to help… can’t do it all alone.