Woman with local roots launches national brand

Published 4:37 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Knock out!® Smart Panties™ are the brainchild of Newnam, a native of Tryon. (photo submitted)

Think lace, think women’s lingerie and think patented and high tech. Now imagine a few scraps of patented camouflage fabric – engineered for the 21st century – and developed in Rutherford County.

“When I started working on my idea for a better panty, I had no idea it would lead me back so close to home,” said Angela Clontz Newnam, as she reflected on her journey to launch an innovative line of lingerie just over two years ago.

“But now that we are internationally distributed in over 150 locations, I am excited that one of our stores is Tryon House, right here in my home town.” Knock out!® Smart Panties™ are the brainchild of Newnam, a native of Tryon, and the daughter of Dr. Norvin and Lydia Clontz, formerly of Tryon. Newnam graduated from Tryon High School, the University of Virginia and Harvard Business School. After careers with AT Kearney and McKinsey and Company, she consulted independently for Springs Industries before moving with her family from Charlotte, N.C., to Washington, D.C.

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“I love coming back to North Carolina for Thanksgiving – and we always make it to Tryon to see friends and enjoy Sidestreet Pizza,” said Newnam. Newnam will preview the entire line at Tryon House in downtown Tryon Friday, Nov. 25 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. When searching for a better panty for workout, but wanting natural materials, Newnam came up short.

“Seven years in textiles and growing up in a textile family was just what I needed to be dangerous… so I started working on my idea,” said Newnam. Newnam spent the next six months doing patent and market research and testing prototype fabrics when she came across the missing link – a natural odor technology. She discovered a textile patent, lost in bankruptcy in the middle of 2009, that had been marketed for hunter’s apparel. Developed by U.S. textile giant Dan River, the formula’s active ingredient was the same one used in Febreze air spray.

“I didn’t believe it myself when I learned that this technology was actually developed in our neighboring county, Rutherford County, and that one of the patent inventors, Dave Brown, till lived in the area,” Newnam said. “It’s a funny twist of fate that he lives minutes from my parents in Forest City – so we called him, and he gave me more background on the technology.”

Newnam purchased the odor technology patent out of bankruptcy and developed her own new fabric technology – No Trace® – that she said makes both moisture and odor disappear from cotton. She hired Dave Brown to help on R&D, her father helped secure additional textile contacts and her mother sewed the first prototypes. She launched in late 2010 with Panty Parties in Charlotte, Washington, D.C., New York and a local event hosted by Lillie Brown and Renae Dusenbury Waldman.

The company expanded quickly, despite the weak economy. Knock out! was recently selected as one of the TOP 15 Global Startups by the Kauffman Foundation, the largest entrepreneurial foundation in the U.S. The brand is featured this month on MTV and Cotton Incorporated’s runway show in Miami, Fla.

The product is now carried by retailers from coast to coast. Area locations include Tryon House of Tryon, Harley’s of Chesnee, S.C., and The Runway of Spartanburg. For more information, visit www.knockoutpanties.com.

– article submitted