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St. Pete startup hopes to make an impact in athleisure industry

Mark Parker

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Melody Mendoza-Auslander, founder of La Bitra, pitches her "Joey" leggings at a recent St. Pete Pitch Night. On Wednesday, she presented the concept at a 1 Million Cups event. Photo by Mark Parker.

St. Petersburg startup La Betri hopes to gain a foothold in the lucrative athleisure wear industry, specifically with its innovative leggings that feature a built-in fanny pack.

Melody Mendoza-Auslander unveiled her Joey leggings earlier in December at St. Pete Pitch Night, and while the judges said they appreciated her energy and concept, she fell short of winning the $5,000 grand prize. Undeterred in her quest to bring her innovating leggings to the masses, Mendoza-Auslander once again sought to gather feedback and network with the entrepreneurial community at Wednesday’s 1 Million Cups event, at Thrive DTSP.

Mendoza-Auslander founded La Betri in 2020 as a clothing line that provides women with stylish and functional options. She relayed how the idea to create “Joey” leggings with a built-in storage pouch came to her at a trip to Publix following a yoga class. She realized she had no place to store essentials like her phone, keys and credit card, and called that her “aha moment.”

Mendoza-Auslander told the audience of advisors and fellow entrepreneurs how the patent-pending, built-in joey pouch is somewhere between a crossbody bag and a fanny pack and can be worn externally or tucked into the waistband.

“So, you can use it if you want it or don’t,” she said. “It’s almost like having friends with benefits – except with clothing.”

Mendoza-Auslander said her target audience is women 30-65 that live a highly active lifestyle. She noted her prospective customers regularly need a fanny pack, backpack or a large purse to carry essentials but want to avoid the inconvenience that comes with carrying the added baggage.

“This woman wants comfort and fashion, and more importantly, she is environmentally and socially responsible,” added Mendoza-Auslander.

Mendoza-Auslander said her leggings are made with fully biodegradable material. According to its website, La Betri uses Amni Soul-Eco technology that allows the fabric to completely decompose in five years. She also said her clothing is made entirely in Los Angeles and Miami by socially responsible manufacturers.

According to Mendoza-Auslander, athleisure wear is a $350 billion industry and projects to reach $500 million by 2026, with leggings leading the way.

“We believe that our patent-pending design can have a share, a little piece of the pie of the market,” she said.

Mendoza-Auslander said she has self-funded her research and development and created prototypes to test the market. She added the company is now modifying designs based on customer feedback, and she is seeking funding opportunities with national and international clients. She said the current focus of the company is exploring licensing opportunities.

“All I need to explode in scale is a really good partner,” she told the audience.

To learn more about La Betri and its Joey leggings, visit its website here.

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1 Comment

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    Melody Mendoza

    December 16, 2021at8:52 pm

    Thank you so much for this feature. Really appreciate your support. 🙏💕

    I’m also doing partnerships with local schools and nonprofit organizations. I would love to highlight these great partnerships through your platform.

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