Sonia Kanner propels her fledgling company by offering a solution to a common problem: where to put your phone, wallet, keys, and other gadgets when you’re out and about and need your hands for other purposes.
The busy mother of three children had an idea for a sleek, fashionable, next-generation fanny pack (for lack of a better comparison). When she came up empty in her Internet search for a similar product, Kanner launched hipS-sister.
“It’s designed for an active lifestyle — walking, hiking, any time you want to live your life hands-free,” Kanner says. “We have the busy moms with kids trying to go shopping, doing all kinds of stuff, and they need to have their belongings right there close to them. We also have a unisex version. We’re selling to men now. So we have a variety of customers.”
Kathleen Ahlgren, now CEO, introduced Kanner to Palm Springs and the iHub. Kanner partned with Ahlgren to relocate hipS-sister from San Diego. The company operates at the Coachella Valley iHub, the business incubator operated by the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership. Production, customer service, shipping, and receiving unfold at the iHub’s Palm Springs Accelerator Campus.
“The iHub has been amazing,” Kanner says. “I have a great business support system here, with access to financing, and it’s actually a great place to have a company. I’ve been here for a few years and watched my company flourish and grow.”
Kanner also says the Coachella Valley’s active lifestyle — with so much golf, tennis, hiking, and outdoor activity — makes the region a perfect place for the product.
But hipS-sister, which has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, also has customers around the globe.
“Our web store sells directly to the consumer, and we sell through retailers around the country, including boutiques, resorts, and stores,” Kanner says. “We’re also doing business in Europe, Taiwan, Canada, Australia, and Israel and are looking to do more international business, which is very exciting for us.”
VIDEO: Sonia Kanner, Founder, Owner and Chief Design Officer of hipS-sister