DSC Member: Mark Kinsley, Power Pocket

Listening to music at the gym with your smartphone flopping around your pocket is the worst. But not the worst. That distinction belongs to needing to remove your phone from your arm band’s plastic prison to skip to the next track. Which is why Mark Kinsley created Kippo Shorts, workout gear meant to keep your smartphone flop-free and 100 percent accessible.

Unlike with an armband, your phone slips in and out of the shorts’ built-in pocket with ease—i.e., finding the perfect power jam on the bench press is a cinch. Better yet, the pocket is cut to fit your phone and built into the waistband to keep it from slamming into your leg with every stride on the treadmill.

Here’s Mark on coming up with innovative ideas, staying motivated and learning from mistakes.

On the creation of Kippo shorts: “One evening I was doing bench press and my iPhone fell out of my pocket, ripped out my earbuds, and crashed to the floor. I was worried about cracking my screen, so I tucked it inside my underwear waistband, on my hip, but it was getting sweaty and not easy to access. So I took an old pair of gym shorts to a tailor and we cut out the regular pocket and made the first Kippo shorts. After designing and redesigning to get it just right, I showed Kippo shorts to friends at the gym and they wanted to buy a pair.”

On the benefits of Kippo shorts: “Armbands hold your phone hostage and a regular pocket fails to keep it secure. With Kippo shorts, you can do a handstand and your smartphone won’t fall out, yet accessing your device is faster than reaching inside an old fashion pocket—just pinch, pop, and pull out your phone. No unzipping, or unclipping. No straps, snaps, flaps, or gaps.”

On blindly going into the apparel business: “My background is marketing, so I had a head start in that department, but doing product development and textiles was new territory. We live in such a fascinating time, where knowledge is democratized and with nothing more than motivation and a notepad you can quickly learn the fundamentals and start something meaningful.”

On staying motivated: “From the beginning my philosophy has been one small step, every day. If it seems like there’s a dead end I treat it like a detour and hopefully find some good scenery on the re-route.”

On learning from mistakes: “For the past few months I’ve been dead-set on testing a lighter weight fabric. The mill didn’t have the fabric I wanted, so I had them make something to my specs. The fabric failed to function like I wanted and I had to abandon the plan and go back to our proven material (which is awesome, I just needed confirmation).”

On what’s next for Kippo: “Right now we’re finishing the first round of shorts (we have two styles) and preparing to ship to Kickstarter backers. After that, we’re launching women’s shorts and then we’ll start building pants with the patent-pending Kippo pocket. Also, we’re beginning talks with retailers about getting Kippo into physical stores.”

Get your own pair of Kippo shorts at kipposhorts.com.