By Hannah Neumann
With expertise in fashion and entrepreneurship, Baylor alumni and siblings Gitanjali and Anand Venkatrao have joined forces to create contemporary jeans designed for easy cell phone access.
I/O Denim is a brand for individuals who consider themselves both fashionable and technology-forward, according to their website, with an I/O Pocket catered to smartphone users.
“We’re adding convenience to a very fashion-forward product,” Anand said. “It’s a very trendy looking pair of jeans, but the I/O Pocket allows you to have a smartphone that is easily accessible, so like when you’re sitting down you can get to your phone without that awkward leg stretch.”
The idea came to Anand abruptly while driving on Interstate 35, as he tried to answer a sales call and almost crashed his car.
“I was driving to Dallas and I had my phone in my pocket when I got a call,” Anand said. “I tried to get to my phone but it was stuck in my jean pocket so I looked down for one second trying to get it, and when I looked back up I had to slam on my breaks and almost hit the car in front of me.”
According to statistics from the US Department of Transportation, Texas has more than 3200 miles of interstate roads. Statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation show more than 3300 motorists died in auto accidents in 2013.
After the near-accident, Anand presented the idea of a solution to Gitanjali, knowing her bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising and entrepreneurship would serve well for the venture. Then they started cutting up T-shirts and sewing pocket ideas, Anand said.
“It took us a while to develop a good prototype,” Gitanjali said. “We did a kickstarter launch in December of 2012 and it was overly successful. We asked for $10,000 and we ended up getting $12,000.”
The kickstarter funded the brand’s launch just a month later. Though their brand has been a success, Gitanjali said they often get asked why their jeans only cater to men.
“I think with women’s clothing it’s a lot harder to design a functional and still stylish pocket, especially since our pants are tighter,” Gitanjali said. “But we are trying to think of some way around that and trying to develop something for women. It’s in the works but we’re just not quite sure what it is yet.”
For Anand, the pants were exactly what he envisioned and hoped for.
“I wear them practically every day,” Anand said. “I have four pairs that I rotate and I don’t like wearing any other jeans now.”