I'd like to think this opportunity will one day repeat itself, but I am afraid it may remain, 'the one that got away.' This past January, Oprah was planning to do a show segment on a Friday on the subject of men's pantyhose (+yes, you read that correctly+), and I was scheduled to be a guest, to participate in some sort of panel discussion. I had been working with a producer (who may no longer be here, not sure) who called me on Thursday afternoon to inform me the show would not take place the next morning. Unfortunately, the scheduled date was the day AFTER Captain Skully did such a magnificent job of laning his plane in the Hudson River, and needless to say, that event pre-empted the plans. The producer said he didn't know if it would get rescheduled or not--Ms. Winfrey was interested in the show idea, but sometimes TV has a way of moving on, etc...
I know Ms. Winfrey has personally tried ActivSkin, because following the president's inauguration in January, she was quoted in the media as saying she was keeping her legs and feet warm because "she was wearing something called men's pantyhose". I know she is always interested to learn more about new, emerging concepts and products, so I am hoping for the opportunity to one day present the concept behind the product to her.
Anyways, a bit of background is in order: at the time I was simply a customer of ActivSkin Legwear for Men, and was willing to go on national TV and talk about men's pantyhose--why men wear them when women are abandoning them, etc, etc. However, since that time I was part of large staff cutbacks at my engineering firm, and found myself without a job, and a family of six to support. Unlike the stereotypical engineer who might go busily about replacing his engineering job with another just like it (in an unstable market for engineers), I approached the owner of ActivSkin (www.activskin.com) about working for him. I had done some pro bono publicity work for him in years past, and we had become friends. Long story--short: I immediately transitioned from a career in civil engineering (of which the job market in Ohio is in the pits right now) to the marketing director for this small, but growing, company. We sell more than 30 styles of MEN'S pantyhose and tights, and we've been increasing sales consistently for more than a year and a half. That's not something too many companies can say in this economic climate, let alone a small, sole-proprietorship selling a decidedly unusual product like this!
Our target group is men in their 30s and beyond, who are starting to suffer the effects of poor leg circulation and want to arrest it's progression while it is still manageable. We also target men engaged in athletics (running, cycling) that can benefit from some form of leg muscle compression to improve stamina, as well as outdoorsmen who need some added warmth without bulk, such as hunters, fishermen, horseback riders (anti-chafing), motorcycle riders, etc.
Part of my publicity efforts to spread the word that ActivSkin is a MAN'S product and sheer hose and opaque tights are now becoming a truly unisex garment revolves around my primarly blog, called The Nylon Gene (www.nylongene.com). This blog provides a reasoned approach to explaining the various benefits of men's legwear. It's intended to be used by potential customers as well as media contacts who need background information while preparing pieces for publication. I've recently done an appearance on a local Columbus TV show on June 8th to talk about the men's legwear trend. The show is called 'Daytime Columbus' on the local NBC affiliate and you can see video online at:
(this was a live appearance, by the way). Also, I am scheduled for another appearance next Monday, June 22nd. The NBC website will have the video online for one week afterward at:
Following that, I plan to post it on YouTube and on The Nylon Gene.
If Ms. Winfrey is still interested in the men's pantyhose phenomena that continues to grow, here in the U.S. and abroad, I would like to see her resurrect the idea that was set aside in January. There are several viewpoints that would hold interest for her viewers, in conjunction with the sheer (no pun intended
) novelty of men taking up nylon legwear in such a big way. The leg health aspect is an important component of how we present our legwear to the public. Also, there is the human interest aspect of an engineer making a quite unusual career transition--prompted by the circumstances so many are finding themselves in these days. And, there's a small company that's steadily making a success story despite the severe economic conditions.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
This happened back in January of this year, and I've made passing reference to this, but I thought readers might find the story interesting. I posted this on a personal blog page at Oprah's website (Steve Newman's Blog) and it's copied here...