This success story is about two women who started with a small business that became a bigger business, which continues to operate right here in the USA. Their story might fit into the category of women's voices, but since it is about their company - a business built from the partnership of two women with imagination, inventiveness, ability, risk, and perseverance - I have put it into the business category.
Their story is about them and their underwear company that has become well known for making colorful thongs. They are now so successful that their company has recently implemented an employee ownership structure.
The entire article, along with some nice visuals via photography, is well worth reading, but due to length I am offering some excerpts.
Lida Orzeck, left, and Gale Epstein, the founders of Hanky Panky. CreditCaroline Tompkins for The New York Times
The Thong That Changed Everything
By Valeriya Safronova
April 18, 2018
Before converting a set of handkerchiefs into a bra and panties that began a 40-year career for her and her best friend, Gale Epstein dabbled in many varieties of D.I.Y.Ms. Epstein’s designs have certainly proven popular.
The thong she created for Hanky Panky in 1986, known simply as 4811 and priced at about $20, is still a top-selling item for the company, which counts Rihanna, Beyoncé, Angelina Jolie, Cameron Diaz, Emma Watson, Eva Longoria, Kim Kardashian West and many others as customers.
Thongs, which Hanky Panky produces in a rainbow of hues and several styles, make up more than half of the company’s $50-million business. The other half is made up of different types of stretchy, form-fitting bottoms and lacy, colorful bras.
Underwear at Hanky Panky's showroom on Park Avenue in Manhattan.CreditCaroline Tompkins for The New York Times
The company’s products have all been made in the United States — primarily in the New York area— since its founding, a considerable feat given that the number of manufacturing jobs in the city has been declining since the 1950s and significantly dropped after 9/11
as one apparel company after another has moved production overseas.
In October, Hanky Panky’s employees — a significant portion of whom work at a 90,000-square-foot multiuse warehouse in Queens — discovered that they would soon be part owners of the company. At a party celebrating Hanky Panky’s 40th birthday, Ms. Epstein and Ms. Orzeck announced that the company had established an employee stock ownership plan, which transfers the ownership of the company over to a trust for the benefit of its workers.
An ESOP is similar to a 401(k) but does not require employee contributions. The right to shares will be earned after six years of working continuously full-time. When employees leave the company, they retain their vested ownership until attaining full retirement age, and upon retirement they can redeem their shares. “Gale and I are still in charge,” Ms. Orzeck said. “But we no longer wholly own the company.”
Employees, including those who work at Hanky Panky's warehouse in Queens, recently found out that they would soon be part owners of the company. CreditCaroline Tompkins for The New York Times