Sairey Gernes pushed. She pulled. She stuffed and rearranged the contents of her bulging suitcase over and over again, and then she sat on top of it, struggling to pull the zipper closed. But no matter what Sairey tried, there simply wasn’t enough room in her bag for all of the things she wanted to pack for her trip. She knew what had to go: the bulky towel wrap. Of course, the hotel at her destination would have bath towels. But Sairey was bunking up with a large group of women on this trip, and she really wanted her cozy towel wrap, with its built-in elastic band that held the towel securely in place. It would allow her to walk around freely without the possibility of exposing herself to her travel companions. In that moment, Sairey felt her next big idea coming on.
Sairey launched her first venture, Urban Undercover, in 2009. The business was born because Sairey couldn’t find pretty underwear that fit comfortably and made her feel confident. Her friends laughed when she announced her business idea, reminding Sairey she didn’t wear underwear. But that was exactly the point. She’d given up trying to find something foundational to every wardrobe because what she needed didn’t exist. Sairey first introduced a line of underwear for everyday wear. An adventurer at heart, her products were also designed with traveling in mind. Underwear can be rolled into a pocket in the back of the waistband—perfect for tucking into a purse, overnight bag or suitcase. And Sairey soon began offering more fashionable yet functional travel wear—from comfy multi-purpose leggings to signature wraps that function as both a sweater and a blanket.
Now Sairey’s travels had sparked an idea for another product that would make her and her customers’ lives easier. The only difference between her towel wrap and a regular towel was the top—the elastic band that held the wrap in place—so what if they were separated? That led Sairey to create a simple solution to a common problem—the Towel Topper. It’s an elastic band designed to be used with any standard bath towel. It keeps your towel in place and your hands free and it takes up much less space in a suitcase. But it’s not just for travelers. It’s perfect for the gym, beach, dorm or home. In addition to a basic black version, Towel Toppers feature fun prints and phrases like “Take me to the lake” and “Up for an adventure.”
Sairey passions for making things better and traveling the world have helped provide many ideas for products, because traveling can be both wonderful and hard work. There’s a lot of effort, and sometimes even a little discomfort, that goes into the making of every trip’s highlight reel. Sairey loves that her products play a small role in supporting others who are getting out into the world, connecting with and learning more about people and their cultures. Recently, Sairey has been inspired to do even more. She is now a part of Six for Good, a retail collaborative with five other women at Rosedale Center in Roseville, Minnesota. All of the founders are dedicated to using their purpose-driven businesses to make a difference in the lives of others and the world by donating a portion of their profits to causes close to their hearts.
Sairey’s focus is on supporting water sustainability for those who don’t have access to clean drinking water. Inspired by her world travels, Sairey believes the more we can interact with others and see how they live and what their lifestyles and hardships are, the more compassionate and understanding we’ll be. She looks forward to Urban Undercover and Towel Topper helping connect even more women with the world they live in, while helping make that world a better place at the same time.
Photo: Urban Undercover
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