This history timeline was put together for an external brand research project. It has been super awesome for us to take a look back and share it with our Prairie Circle!
The challenge: a specialized oncological breast surgeon in Portland held up a flimsy, scratchy ruched pink and white garment that they used on patients post-surgically in order to try and improve their post-operative pain and discomfort, and asked if we could do better. The answer – yes!
Through work on an earlier project, the team had amassed a large body of knowledge on yarn, fabric technology, garment production and logistics. They were set on not only improving on the current post-surgical offering, but potentially exceeding both patient and medical professionals' expectations of what a product like this could be!
June 2016: On Friday June 11, 2016 a very special design workshop was held in a bra lab in Portland, Oregon with a group of impassioned experts including Dr. LaJean Lawson (expert in breast movement and creator of the first sports bra, Dr Allen Gabriel (Breast Reconstruction Surgeon), Dr Toni Storm (breast oncological surgeon), Katie Foster (technical designer), as well as Rocky and Holli from the Prairie Wear team. Here the first Hugger was physically prototyped and the idea for the Extender (patent pending) was born.
July 2016: The term “Hugger” is officially adopted, replacing the industry term “binder”.
September 2016: The company is named “Prairie Wear” and the brand is in implementation by early 2017.
January 2017: A final product sample of the first Hugger, which would eventually be called the HuggerPRIMA was approved. The technical specifications were approved in July 2017, and went into production for delivery in November 2017.
July 2017: First photo shoot done in Toronto with the prototype Huggers.
November 2017: First order of Huggers and Extenders are delivered to the US Distribution Centre and our first official order is received!
January 2018: Official sales and marketing kickoff.
October 2018: The second Hugger style, our HuggerVIDA, is launched!
Mid 2019: The VidaEXTENDER is launched 😀
March 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic global shutdowns occur. All elective and non-emergency surgeries are put on hold indefinitely while the medical world focuses on containing the pandemic and finding ways to save people.
April 2020: The only month on record since Prairie Wear sales started that showed a dramatic drop in volume as a result of the medical shutdowns.
May 2020: Prairie Wear shifts focus to end-consumers who are still in need of the product but cannot access it via medical channels. A digitally driven direct-sales strategy is implemented and people are once again able to purchase their Huggers.
2020 – 2022: Despite all the new logistics, costs and other challenges through the two years of primary COVID-19 impact, Prairie Wear continues to supply Huggers where they are needed, and keeps growing.
“We’re here because we need to be here for people, regardless of what is happening” - Holli Markwald, CEO
January 2023: The HuggerLUMA is launched.
And on we go!