OpenSky Merchant The Hunny Bun Featured in the Houston Chronicle

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Selling an off-the-neck idea

Inventive twins create product to allow women to pull their hair up while on the run

By Sandra Bretting

September 15, 2013

Karen Warren, Staff

Alexis Cartwright-Tower, left, and her sister, Gentra Cartwright, hold a stack of their invention, “the Hunny Bun.”

In a case of old meets new, two Houston sisters are harnessing the Internet to sell something that helps with an ancient hairstyle: the bun.

The 28-year-old twins – Alexis Cartwright-Tower and Gentra Cartwright – developed “the Hunny Bun,” a knitted nylon ring offered in several colors and sizes, last year.

The duo got the idea from a similar product they found in a New York City department store.

“But it only came in one size, and I didn’t like the quality,” Cartwright-Tower said. “Plus, it didn’t come with instructions, so I had no idea how to put it in.”

The sisters had been living in New York City for several years, working in public relations.

“You see all of the trends coming over from Europe there first, and in the last year and a half there’s really been a revival of the bun,” Cartwright-Tower said. “Especially in New York, where women are always running to catch a subway … they wear their hair up.”

The duo decided to improve on what was out there. Several stores carry versions of a do-it-yourself trend called the “sock bun,” where women make a bun holder from an old sock.

“What sets us apart, though, is the demographic we’re going after – basically the teens and mid-20s-and-up market,” Gentra Cartwright said. “We really have the heart of the consumer at the forefront of our strategy, and that’s why we offer so many different sizes and colors.”

The company’s website is designed to be chic and trendy. It includes videos on how to use the product.

Karen Warren, Staff

“The Hunny Bun” is meant to let women do a better updo. The product is targeted to teens and young women.

Since launching last November, they’ve sold and distributed some 6,000 units of the Hunny Bun. Each unit sells for $9.99.

The company got a big boost when it was contacted by online retailer OpenSky in May.

“We’re basically a social network for shopping,” said John Caplan, the site’s founder. “Kind of like a modern-day Main Street. I thought their company was an exciting, engaging brand.”

Since the Hunny Bun launched on OpenSky, the site has brought $20,000 in new orders, Cartwright-Tower said. OpenSky hooked the sisters up with several celebrity endorsers, including actress Molly Sims and Kelly Killoren Bensimon, a former “Real Housewives of New York” cast member.

Early on, the packaging also was designed to be fun and chic. Orders arrive in bright pink envelopes.

“But I can also tell you that we used to spend 40 cents for each mailing envelope, until I found someone else who would do it for 10,” Cartwright-Tower said. “It may sound silly, but it all adds up when you’re talking about your own company.”

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