Necessity is the mother of invention, and Seattle wedding photographer, Julie Watts, thought it was about time women wore something other than dress slacks to shoot a wedding. We were lucky enough to meet this talented woman at PPA Charities Chicks Who Click convention, and today she shares with us how she took this thought and created her business, Photopantz.
In My Pantz – by Julie Watts
Over the years, I realized I’d been able to solve all of these other problems – learning to shoot manual, handling clients, but simply getting dressed before a wedding was still a huge frustration for me. I had to choose between the pants that covered my rear when I bent, the ones with pockets, or the ones that stretched.
“Why on Earth hasn’t someone designed pants especially for the needs of women photographers, especially wedding photographers?” I asked the Universe and the universe pretty much answered, “Oh, ‘cause YOU’RE supposed to do it.”
It was easy to come up with features I wanted in a pair of shooting pants; I simply addressed all of the problems I’d had with the rest. First off, it’s a total distraction to worry about mooning guests when I bend or squat (Oh low rise pants, you have such a sense of humor). I have to admit, I’ve accidentally mooned some guests over the years…I thought my shirt was long enough or thought my tank-top was tucked in…but with all of the vigorous action of wedding photography, regular clothing often disappoints and embarrasses. In 2006, I was shooting a group of groomsmen in a semi-circle. There was no suitable background in the area, but the sky was a gorgeous blue so, in a hurry, I got on all fours to shoot upwards at them. Then the catcalls began! All I was thinking about was photography; all they were seeing was MY background! I played it off, but I had to spend HOURS with them after that, and they were joyfully sharing the story with their buddies at the reception.
I knew the booty of Photopantz was critical. You must be covered, but feel like your rear looks amazing. I knew exactly what pair of pants I wanted to model the shape of the rear from; it was the pair of pants I got my rear pinched while wearing by a tipsy father-of-the-groom. Not that I want to encourage THAT, but I the cut of the rear is just that flattering. I’m not going to lie, everyone’s rear looked awesome in Photopantz at their debut at PPA Charities’ Chicks Who Click Convention this summer!
I wanted a sleek, low profile sleeve for my smart phone. When the wedding party is getting ready at different locations or traveling to other locations for formals, I want my phone at my side, on vibrate, within reach.
How many times have I been asked for a business card by other vendors or by guests during a wedding reception, only to get caught up shooting and not return with a card for them? I have ADD; so a small business card pocket on the side of the leg made a BIG difference in networking and follow-through!
REAL hand pockets. That your hand can fit in. REAL back pockets, positioned just so, to give the illusion your wearing stylish “low rise” pants.
The last of the NINE pockets in Photopantz were designed for “emergencies” in mind. There is a zipped-closure “memory card” pocket on the front thigh, when you need to grab an empty card or stash a full card safely until you download or get back to the card case in your camera bag.
SECRET SPY NINJA POCKETS. Because really…. what’s better than whipping lip gloss out of a secret zippered cuff pocket when you are squatted down at the front of the aisle waiting for the ceremony to begin? Okay, well if you notice you still have your lens cap on, you can stash it in your ninja pocket. Or treats to coax reluctant ringbearers/flowergirls…I suppose that’s more important than soft, supple lips. Or if you notice your camera battery is spent, grab a spare out of your Secret Spy Ninja Pocket! What emergency items you choose to stash there are up to you! Granola bars, tiny hairbrush, bobby pins, translucent powder for the B&G, treats for ring bearers…
Starting an apparel company is no easy feat, but I was inspired like I’d never been in my life to GO FOR IT! I got focused and took one step at a time. It’s not unlike building a photography business. Every day is an adventure; to-do lists are constantly evolving. Finding the perfect 4-way stretch fabric was one thing, learning how to import goods internationally was yet another. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I discovered there was such a thing as “freight forwarders.” The restrictions and classifications are so complicated for textiles and fluctuate often, but a freight forwarder’s job is to assist business owners like me with the transaction. I was lucky to find out a family owned company that looks out for me. It’s a Godsend to find passionate, genuine businesses to work with when building a company.
I found the most fantastic tailor to create the patterns for Photopantz; as an ex-professional ballet dancer, he not only understands the need for clothing to allow for free movement, he’s been sewing stretchy fabric for years. The first time I interviewed him, he had this leather jacket on, complete with rhinestones and he explained that he created the entire jacket from scratch. Once I saw his studio, it was obvious; his talent and passion for design was undeniable. Photopantz are made locally in Seattle, WA, in sizes 0 to 20.
What’s coming up for Photopantz?
We are currently knee deep in research & development for a lightweight version of Photopantz for hotter climates like Arizona and Southern California. The conditions my hot climate photographer friends shoot in are SO specific, it became clear we needed a light “sister” version to the original Photopantz, which were designed with milder/cooler climates in mind (30-80 degrees as opposed to 80-105 degrees) Hey look, it’s just like lenses!
Next, I’m super stoked to announce Photopantz will be at ImagingUSA 2012 in New Orleans! My first tradeshow had a few hundred attendees; IUSA will have over 10,000. My mission is to watch the back of every sister photographer out there, so we can look professional and have everything at our fingertips to allow us to be creativity ninjas.