Take three best friends forever. Let’s make them blonde, with Southern accents. One night over a dinner of martinis and mini-burgers, the trio happens upon an idea that grows into an international success story–Passport Panties.Turns out tiny pieces of lingerie equal big business.You can find them in more than 350 stores around the world.
Identical twins Kim Howard Willson, BS’02, and Mary Kay Howard Bowden, BS’02, along with Morgan Harbin (a University of Alabama graduate), are the blondes behind the business. These young women aren’t just the creators of the product … they are the brand.A travel and airline theme is carried out in every aspect of marketing–from the packaging to the flight-attendant uniforms the three wear at trade shows. Their Web site (www.passportpanties.com) opens with an animated pink airplane emblazoned with the name “Air Force Blonde.”Their goal is to grow the business into a full lingerie line all marketed under the umbrella company MMK Brands. Body shapers are the newest offering, and others are planned to follow.
Being in the intimate apparel business has its quirks, says Willson.
“Because of the type of product, our customers seem to think they can tell us all about their personal lives. Sometimes we think,’We’re not doctors–we’re just designing underwear.'”