Charles Schwab once said: "I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among men the greatest asset I possess." While this quote is certainly not a perfect segue, some of action sports' most prominent female athletes have found a way to use their assets to not only arouse enthusiasm among men, but also feed starving children around the world.
Tongue-in-cheek intros aside, Sweet Cheeks is a new brand of women's underwear founded by Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Hannah Teter launched with the mission statement: "From your heart, for your butt."
In order to raise funds and awareness for hungry children in impoverished areas, the brand sells a sassy collection of panties through its Website (sweetcheekspanties.com) and donates 40% of its proceeds to Children International.
Since its launch, Sweet Cheeks has sold more than 1,000 of its "panties for a purpose" and has signed on snow shred Gabi Viteri and pro surfer Monyca Byrne Wickey to its growing roster of athletic supporters [sorry, couldn't resist].
TransWorld Business caught up with Teter to find out more about the project. Here’s what she had to say.
How/ when did Sweet Checks get started, what was the inspiration, and who was involved?
The idea for Sweet Cheeks sprang from the desire to create a brand that a lot of people could be a part of and get excited about. The inspiration came from the concept of selling a product that instantly helps somebody else, so our partnership with the incredibly effective Children International was a no-brainer. We started Sweet Cheeks right before the Vancouver Olympics but with so much going on at the time we weren’t able to commit the kind of attention a brand like Sweet Cheeks deserves. Today we have five panty designs and a team of talented people who are helping to make the brand really take off.
What is the mission statement of the organization and what do you hope to accomplish with this non-profit?
Our mission statement is “From your heart, for your butt!” The purpose of Sweet Cheeks is to offer girls a cute, sassy, comfortable pair of underwear with the added bonus of knowing their purchase is making a difference in the lives of others. By partnering with Children International we are helping to alert our audience to the struggles of kids living in extreme poverty. We hope that our message makes an impact on girls all over the country who purchase our product, love it, love what that purchase did for the world, and inspire their friends to do the same.
Where is the organization based and are there any full-time or part time employees?
We are currently based in Portland, Oregon and currently have six part-time, talented employees who are committed to making this brand a success. It’s exciting to see the energy behind the work that everyone’s contributing at this point. It’s a constant reminder of the potential we have here to build a brand that’s fun and relevant.
What athletes are involved and what are they doing to grow awareness?
Currently the Sweet Cheeks team is comprised of snow shredder Gabi Viteri, surf princess Monyca -Byrne Wickey, and me. We recently teamed up with Children International and visited the slums of Mexico together to gain a first-hand understanding of what life is really like for a lot of super underprivileged kids. It was something that neither Gabi nor Monyca had ever really seen and I think it really gave a whole new perspective to the importance of helping others who wouldn’t have much of a chance otherwise. An experience like that impacts a person forever. It’s impossible not to want to share those stories and talk about what Sweet Cheeks is doing in an effort to help kids like that.
How does the program work-do sales proceeds go straight to charities? Please explain.
We are currently operating on a small scale which makes it more expensive to create and sell product, so right now we’re only able to sell direct via our website (www.sweetcheekspanties.com). This business model allows for a whopping 40% of per sale net proceeds to be donated directly to the charity cause with the rest going back into the company, allowing it to grow and do more. When we hit the stores we’ll have to slightly tweak the charity component because selling at wholesale knocks in half what we can make off of each pair so in order for the brand to survive we’ll be toning the per sale charity contribution down a bit. Still, with greater volume we’ll be raising much more money overall for the charity, which us what keeps us stoked. At this point our small size really allows us to be nimble, fluctuate with the market and respond to what customers are saying to us.
How did the idea of “panties for a purpose” come about? Why sell underwear rather than another type of garment?
The real question is: who doesn’t need underwear? Who doesn’t want a variety of creative colors and graphics to adorn their derrieres? Panties are a commodity that we all need to buy, wear, wear-out, than buy again. If underwear is done correctly – with a unique selling point and a huge dose of fun, youthfulness, and comfort — then we know it will succeed.
Has there been any push back or criticism because of the “sexy” nature of the program?
Not really. We made a decision to make Sweet Cheeks less about being in-your-face sexy and more about confidence, spunk, and free-spirit. Those understated qualities let a girl feel strong and unstoppable, wherever she is and whatever she’s doing – Now that’s sexy!
To date, how many pairs of sweet cheeks have been sold?
So far we’ve probably sold a little over 1,000 pair.
What’s the ultimate goal for Sweet Cheeks over the next few years?
To start out with, we want to make this brand a go-to for girls who get our message and believe in our product. With their support, our long term goals are to introduce Sweet Cheeks to a broader audience and eventually become a well-known name in the market. Along that journey we want to make a huge impact in the lives of children who benefit from our relationship with Children International and any other charity partners that we work with.
Are you recruiting more athletes to become involved?
There are so many smart, socially-conscious and talented chicks out there and we are always looking to find the next member of our core team. We are current talking with a potential new Sweet Cheeks teammate that people will be pumped on, but you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out who it is!