Introducing Pursesuitz Pocketwear

By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller

Barbara Zabawa has an impressive resume.

She is a lawyer who specializes in the health and wellness industry, a professor at UW-Milwaukee, an entrepreneur, and a podcast host.

Now, she has also added ‘designer’ to her list of accomplishments.

Nearly a decade ago, Zabawa was trying a case in federal court. Security regulations required her to surrender her purse.

The men in her group breezed through security checkpoints, their required identification cards inside their wallets, which were securely tucked into the pockets of their suits.

Zabawa did not have the same experience. Her suit, like most women’s business wear, had no pockets. That left her hands full with all she was required to carry. The awkward and frustrating experience made her long for functional pockets that would be accessible, regardless of what she chose to wear. She began to envision a tank top women could wear under blouses and jackets that had pockets deep enough to carry essentials, without sacrificing the look of the outfit.

The idea for the garment she imagined never left her. She was reminded of it every time she was inconvenienced by the lack of pockets in her clothing or the purse she was forced to carry.

Eventually, she decided to create the tank top.

“I knew nothing,” Zabawa said, “I just had the idea in my head of what it might look like. I didn’t know if it was actually going to work because I don’t sew. But my husband does.”

Using her drawing as a guide, Zabawa’s husband sewed the first Pursesuitz Pocketwear prototype. The tank top was the functional garment she’d been dreaming about for years. From there, she dove into the world of garment manufacturing. She enrolled in a training program that taught the basics of patterning, fabric sourcing and other skills needed to create a unique garment.

In January 2020 she launched her company.

The patent-pending product is available in three styles, all with functional pockets. Constructed of eco-friendly recycled fabric, the material is also moisture wicking and antimicrobial. The company has just entered into an agreement to have the garments manufactured in India.

The initial response to the distinctive garment has been strong. The product has been recommended in scores of publications, including Forbes and New York Lifestyle Magazine.

A FOR-M graduate, Zabawa is eager to expand on that experience. She is considering a number of options, including joining an accelerator program, to continue to develop her business.

This may be your first exposure to Pursesuitz, but that is soon to change. Zabawa will appear on season seven of Project Pitch It. She is eager for her episode to air in March but kept the results of the program as carefully concealed as the contents inside the pocket of one of her tank tops.To follow the growth of Pursesuitz, connect with them here.

Leave a Reply