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Finding a silver lining

Winston-Salem mom develops cutting-edge odor-trapping technology

by Susan Poulos

Katy O’Kennedy is a lot like many Triad area moms. She spends hours each week driving her two athletic kids to different sports activities and watching them play soccer. For O’Kennedy, though, the convergence of post-practice sweaty soccer gear and an airtight SUV created a source of daily dread that many parents know all too well — the stench infused into a hot car that can make any trip home miserable — and it compelled her to do something about it.

“We tried sticking our heads out the window and we tried holding our breath, but we knew there had to be a better way,” O’Kennedy says.

After realizing that all of the other team parents were enduring the same horrors day in and day out, she used her experience in textiles and a little help from her husband to invent an assortment of silver-lined products — all designed to stop the stink.

“That’s how Silver Edge Gear was born,” says O’Kennedy, a 20-year textile brand executive.

O’Kennedy was born in Dublin, Ireland, and moved to Winston-Salem in 1990, where she applied her marketing savvy to a number of businesses before joining Sara Lee Intimates (now Hanesbrands). There, she learned all aspects of the textiles industry through her work in intimate apparel, sportswear and the Just My Size clothing company. In 2007, she became an independent consultant and began creating solutions to everyday problems.

A career in textiles
According to O’Kennedy, Silver Edge Gear is unique because of its patent-pending Advanced PE47 Technology, which uses the inherent properties of pure silver to attack and prevent the cause of the stench: odor-causing bacteria. Unlike pricey perfumed products that simply mask smelly particles and require continuous application, Silver Edge Gear products feature a process that is designed to permanently encapsulate 100 percent of the nylon fibers in pure silver.

O’Kennedy used this technology to create her first bag, and her family noticed an immediate difference.

“We could get in the car without gagging,” she says.

The bag encapsulates the stinky gear, so transporting it from the field to the washing machine is now, thankfully, odor-free.

“You just take your gear out of the bag, pop it into the wash and you’re done,” O’Kennedy says. “The bag will never absorb the odor. Even shoes that aren’t washable don’t have to gag anyone anymore. You can just keep them in the bag between uses.”

A successful template
After successfully testing her prototype, O’Kennedy made some more bags and gave them to soccer teammates, who couldn’t believe the difference.

“One mom told me they were actually able to stop for lunch on the way home from a tournament and not worry about getting back into the stinky car,” she explains.

Parents and athletes all over the Triad now are raving about O’Kennedy’s creation.

“I put stinky clothes and shoes in the bag after my kids’ sports practices,” says Jennifer Herdon of Winston-Salem. “You really can’t smell the stink. I also use the bag to prevent mildew from growing on wet items from the pool or the beach.”

Scott Saffer, who plays basketball every morning, agrees on the bag’s anti-odor properties.

“I have been using the Silver Edge Gear bag for several weeks now, and no odor,” he says. “The bag also has enough room for all my sweaty clothes plus my high tops.”

Greensboro athlete Marya Lehmann says Silver Edge Gear bags are wonderful for anyone who works out and has to change clothes during the day.

“It’s a good idea for volleyball tournaments, triathlons or any sport,” she says. “It is a great product, and it really works.”

O’Kennedy has expanded Silver Edge Gear to include a line of athletic gear that features shin guard pads, T-shirts and waterproof bags designed to appeal to active people of all ages. She says the line is ideal for people who travel because they can toss used items into the bag and drop the bag right into their suitcases.

Staying close to home
With the new line and throughout the patent-pending process, O’Kennedy has worked to keep Silver Edge Gear’s production in the country. She even recently tapped the talent of textile manufacturers in the state.

“We could have gone offshore, but why not use the talent that’s right here?” she says. “It’s better for all of us.”

As she works through the patent process, filling orders from around the world and keeping up with her boys’ busy schedules has kept O’Kennedy busier than ever.

“I am extremely proud of what we’ve created and that we make everything here in America, but I have to say the best part is that the stench from the all of our sports gear is gone,” she says.

So how do her boys feel about inspiring this unique line of products?

“They are very proud, and they use all of our products,” O’Kennedy says. “They especially like the shin guard pads because not only will their shin guards never smell again, but they make the guards more comfortable too. And they like the fact that the car is stink-free on the ride home from the game.”

Susan Poulos is an independent writer and public relations professional based in Greensboro.

Where to buy

Interested in Winston-Salem mom Katy O’Kennedy’s creation for your family? You can pick up Silver Edge Gear at Soccer Shop in town, through and on her company’s website at Products also are available during Triad area soccer tournaments.