TwoAlity, LLC – Columbia
Bailye and Brynne Stansberry are not typical entrepreneurs. They’re twins and just 22. They took a teenage idea and turned it into commercial reality.
While brainstorming a marketable product in a high school class one day, Bailye asked Brynne: “What do we wear?” The cold, dreary day outside prompted Brynne to contemplate the bright boots she preferred on rainy days. She wondered how they could make them more versatile. Together, they came up with boots with clear plastic uppers that would allow the wearer to insert different fabric liners — all-purpose boots for every mood. The boots would combine the water resistance of rain boots, the insulation of snow boots and the functional aspect of muck boots.
TwoAlity, LLC, which thus far sells the twins’ patented clear plastic boots with interchangeable liners online only, was launched in May 2013. Boots by TwoAlity, as the twins call their fun, unique product, was made possible by the care, attention and financial acumen of many individuals, including Jim Gann, the MU SBTDC’s director of technology business development. The twins had connected with Gann at a 2011 Regional Economic Development, Inc. idea bounce pitch competition at which they wowed the judges. They later found a California company that could make their boots. In early 2013, Gann, who lives in mid-Missouri and has made numerous industry contacts over the years, found a textile facility in Glasgow, American Discovery Textile Manufacturing, that could sew the liners.
And that’s important to the twins.
Growing up on a farm outside Moberly, they’ve witnessed first-hand the effects of the global economy on rural Missouri. Try as they might, however, they couldn’t find domestic manufacturers flexible enough to produce what they wanted at a price they could afford. The twins became convinced the boots and liners would have to be manufactured in China, Mexico or elsewhere, which presented a whole new set of headaches, not the least of which is quality control.
Creating jobs in America is more than giving back to the community, the twins say. Domestic manufacturers can scale manufacturing up or down far more quickly than overseas manufacturers, whose shipments can take weeks or even months. The twins forwent outside investors and kept their concept, recently securing an SBA loan to finance the launch.
As of late June 2013, TwoAlity is an online store only. The bright, intuitive website guides shoppers through the process: Choosing the right size of boots, then choosing liners in colors from berry to mellow yellow and basic black then choosing accessories. Because the liners can be printed with almost anything, in any color, licensing agreements represent a particularly fertile opportunity for the company.
“We’d love to have a Mizzou liner and a Cardinals liner!” Bailye says. She adds that sales are going very well.
But what is it like working with your twin?
“We have worked as a team all our lives and have perfected our teamwork to the point that we know how to work with and handle one another extremely well,” Bailye says. “On days that one of us is questioning our direction or future, the other one balances that negativity and brings everything back to usual. People looking in on our relationship are baffled by our ability to work as a team, and to be honest, most days we are too!”
Added Brynne, “Having Bailye by my side is one of the best parts about what we are doing. One industry consultant tried to tell us that instead of completing business tasks together, we should divide all the work — for example Bailye be the CFO and me the CEO. That is the worst advice anyone could ever give us. We do our best work when we work together. No matter how many people tell us how to make our relationship work, only we know how to do that and we are sticking with what we know. After all, we have been working together for 22 years.”
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