BP3 underwear – my special knickers

Why can't incontinence underwear be sexy?

I have been dying to have a baby and I often catch myself daydreaming while seeing pictures of pregnant women or newborns. It’s so beautiful, so special. It also changes your body forever, and not always in good ways, but that is not something people talk about so much. Nearly one in three women start to experience urinary incontinence after pregnancy.

Kelly Newton, 49, founder of BP3, has always been an active person, but also began to suffer from urine leakage after the birth of her boys, now 18 and 20. A regular solution to this would be incontinence underwear, but yikes, do a Google search of ‘incontinence underwear’ and it is the adult diaper you always imagined it would be – the stuff of nightmares.

The nightmare was real for Kelly. After going through a hysterectomy seven years ago, Kelly developed menopause. She started having panic attacks, serious depression, and extreme anger. “Some days I dropped my boys off at school, came home and lay on the rug, and only got up when I had to go pick them up,” she says. And the leakage got worse.

Kelly is part of a ladies hockey team. At games and training, if she stretched for the ball, she leaked. If she “scored a goal, raised my arms and jumped up,” she leaked. Kelly refused to use regular incontinence underwear. I would too.

Incontinence underwear is, effectively, a diaper. Under activewear, the underwear bulges and its outline might as well be a string of dancing fairy lights. “That line!” she makes a triangle shape with her hands, and scrunches her face. An announcement of one’s weak bladder might be less obvious.

It’s as if women above the age of 30 aren’t allowed to feel sexy. They do and they are.

Image from BP3

Her "special knickers"

The exact timeline is hazy, but in between taking care of six children (her sons and four foster daughters) and getting flung in different directions from extreme emotions brought on by menopause, she started sketching what her ideal absorbent underwear would be like.

Kelly bought lots of different fabrics, to test thickness and absorbency, and sewed working prototypes. She tested them at hockey games, even cutting out her own scalloped edges to remove that dreaded visible panty line.

She was determined to make absorbent underwear that was just grown up and sexy.

“Have you got your special knickers on today?” her hockey teammates would ask her. Four homemade designs and plenty of offcut fabrics later, Kelly set out to seriously look for a manufacturer. She finally settled on a manufacturer from China, after unsuccessfully finding a factory to work with from within the UK, which was her first choice.

BP3 was born. The manufacturer of absorbent underwear for protection against periods and leaks – from menstruation to incontinence. The underwear is breathable, protects against odour and is designed with seam-free edges.

When BP3 first started out, Kelly says that her hockey teammates were her first customers.

Going from being a stay-at-home mom for over 18 years, having fostered 28 children and raising two of her own to running her own business was a big shift for Kelly.

In June 2019, BP3 went live, and sales started to pour in only one month later. In March, Kelly was furloughed from her job, and she started to put more effort into the business, taking courses and networking. The business snowballed and in September, Kelly had a moment she told me was one of the biggest wins in her business so far: BP3 was the Editor’s Choice in Women’s Running.

Tears of joy

Image from BP3

When Kelly found out via the magazine’s digital edition, she cried. “My husband walked in to the office, where I sit at a lot, most of the day,” Kelly says. It is at this seat, where she cries a lot too, most times from exasperation. Her husband, who is her biggest supporter, sighed, what now? Kelly pointed at the screen, and they cried happy tears together. 

Despite having no experience and second-guessing herself most days, Kelly has consistently proven herself wrong. BP3 carries six styles and stocks at multiple venues, even abroad, in Korea. One daughter helps with brand and product photography, another helps with packing of orders and they already harbour dreams of taking over the family business. Her grown-up sons also could not be prouder of her.

Image from BP3

I feel alive again

Starting BP3 has been a second blossoming for Kelly. She feels alive, excited. “I feel like a new woman getting through menopause and coming out the right side,” she says. Far from her dark perimenopausal days, the future is bright with possibilities. Kelly wants to be a household name. With her underwear, she wants to empower other women to feel confident and sexy, and that they don’t have to hit the “pause” button with menopause or after pregnancy.

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