Tyler Farley was frustrated. His weight was fluctuating because of health issues, he didn’t want to purchase new pants every time his old ones stopped fitting, and he disliked wearing belts because they felt uncomfortable.
So, he turned to suspenders to solve his problem. But when he perused Google and Amazon in search of a good pair, he failed to find anything that suited his everyday needs. Some suspenders, he says, were too fancy. Others, he recalls, were too unprofessional.
That’s when he came up with an idea: He would enlist the help of his sister, Tori, and together they would design their own line of suspenders.
Tyler and Tori, who both graduated from Northeastern University, co-founded Better Than Belts, a company that designs and sells suspenders that, they say, are playful enough to wear with T-shirts and tasteful enough to wear with tuxedos.
“I was shocked there wasn’t a nice, versatile suspender made for everyday wear,” says Tyler, who graduated in May with a degree in business administration and a concentration in entrepreneurship. “For me, this was all based in function. It really was ‘how do I find a suspender I can wear with a T-shirt or a suit and everywhere in between.’”
Tyler says he wants to bring suspenders back into style like they were in the 1970s, when people seemed to wear them with everything, including shorts. He sees suspenders as the next fanny pack, another relic of 20th century fashion that’s become popular all over again.
His suspenders come in five different patterns. The most colorful pair features images of pink flamingos.
“When I think of suspenders, I think of Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street,” says Tyler. “You think of them as being worn by bankers in the 70s or 80s, but that’s not what I’m bringing back. I’m creating a redesigned suspender as everyday wear for any gender, any age, and anyone.”
Tyler and Tori say they plan to seek funding and mentoring from IDEA, the student-led business accelerator at Northeastern. They attribute their drive to start a company to the lessons they learned from their professors, including how to craft a business plan, and their co-op experiences in marketing at Amazon and TJX, which taught them how to navigate corporate culture.
“Obviously, co-op is great at Northeastern and it allows you to see what you like and don’t like in the professional world, but the Northeastern network is incredible,” Tyler says. “It gave us the tools to operate our own company.”
Tyler and Tori recently launched a Kickstarter Campaign to raise money to produce their suspenders, which they plan to begin selling through their website in November. Tori says they raised more than $10,000 just two weeks into their monthlong campaign.
“Hitting $10,000 was a huge accomplishment,” says Tori, who graduated from Northeastern in 2015 with a degree in business administration and concentrations in entrepreneurship and marketing. “The excitement from people trying them on for the first time has been validating to us for both the quality of our suspenders and as a modern fashion trend.”