Game Changer: MagnaReady Turned a Locker Room Mishap Into a Genius Clothing Idea
Name: Maura Horton
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
What She Does: Horton has designed and brought to market a line of men's dress shirts that have magnets infused into the buttons. This makes it easier for those with diseases, disabilities or injuries to dress themselves in professional wear. "We are a company with innovative solutions for limited mobility apparel," Horton says.
How She Started: Horton's journey to create her first shirt was a very personal one. Her husband, Don, a former football coach for North Carolina State University, has Parkinson's Disease. After one game, he was in the locker room and had difficulty buttoning his shirt—one of his players, Russell Wilson, now a quarterback with the Seattle Seahawks, had to button it for him.
"He was embarrassed," Horton says. "There aren't many things with Parkinson's that I can help him with, but this is one challenge I decided to take on."
Why She's a Game Changer: After hearing about that locker room incident, Horton ordered other shirts to see if she could find something that worked for her husband.
"They just didn't meet my standards," Horton says. And after carefully looking over the available options, mostly with hook and loop closures, Horton called on her background in design to create something she would like better.
"I had always been interested in design and I noticed that the tech world was turning to magnets," Horton says. Inspired by tablet covers and purses with magnetic closures, she created a dress shirt with magnets as well. She had to find the perfect magnetic strength that made it easy enough to open and close but strong enough to keep the shirt fastened.
What's Next: Thanks to the success of MagnaReady shirts, the company is about to add more products this summer.
"The outcry for women's apparel is huge and we are about to launch that," Horton says. "We have secured the patent rights for hospital patient gowns and we are going to debut children's coats."
The idea for the children's coats was also born of Horton's family experiences. After struggles bundling up toddlers for blustery Northeastern winter days, she wanted to simply design something to make life easier.
Advice for Other Entrepreneurs: "Mentoring has been huge to me," Horton says. After stepping away from the design world to raise her children and then diving back in with the launch of MagnaReady, Horton says she relied on advice from other professionals across other industries. "It's good to be able to run things by other people," Horton says.
And she has one other piece of advice: "Don't ever give up."
Meet more ambitious entrepreneurs in our Game Changers series.
Carla Turchetti is a veteran print and broadcast journalist with a passion for money matters and the stories behind the world of small business and personal finance.
Photos from top: Courtesy Magna Ready, Thinkstock