Sheerly Genius is applying technology to an age-old problem for women: Hosiery that won’t tear easily

Sheerly genius "indestructible tights" made of ballistic grade fiber

Sheerly genius “indestructible tights” made of ballistic grade fiber

For any woman who’s ever confronted the age old problem of pantyhose that tears easily, one start-up is using technology to come to the rescue.

Sheerly Genius, a company based out of San Francisco, has created what it calls the world’s first “indestructible” pair of sheer tights. Hundreds of people are buying into the concept, with The Y-Combinator-backed venture has a Kickstarter campaign that’s already more than $100,000 over its fundraising goal.

The start-up created its own material by partnering directly with a fiber manufacturer. A caveat: The tights aren’t actually bulletproof, but they use a ballistic grade fiber that claims to be up to ten times stronger than steel, while still making the hosiery sheer. A pair can hold up for decades, Sheerly claims.

“The strongest material I could think of was kevlar,” Katherine Homuth, CEO of Sheerly Genius, told CNBC recently. “Ultimately I found a fabric that was 100 denier, but was ridiculously strong.”

Pantyhose fibers are measured in denier, a unit that determines fiber thickness. To qualify as pantyhose, the fabric needs to be 100 denier or less; to be sheer instead of tights or jeans, they need to be 30 denier or less.

After years of seeing entrepreneurs tackle products like connected pens and water bottles, she wanted to focus on a problem that really frustrates people, but is often overlooked by the retail and technology industries.

“When we got our first prototype I gave them to my husband and some of his friends and said okay, can you guys try to tear through these? Ultimately we were able to get through them with a fire poker” said Homuth. She added the tights can’t be cut with scissors, and certainly hold up against everyday sourges like rings and velcro.

The process of making the tights came with their fair share of drawbacks, she explained. “It had some problems, it was white and not dyeable, it wasn’t stretchy, and if you mixed it with something stretchy it would tear right through that fiber.”

Though the tights promise to be indestructible, it became apparent that the company’s hosiery machines were not. As the team started manufacturing their first tights, the fiber was so strong it actually broke their machines.

For Homuth one of the hosiery’s biggest attractions was its environmental sustainability. She mentioned that every year, more than $2 billion worth of U.S. pantyhose sales eventually end up in landfills. Each pair takes more than 50 years to decompose, she said.

“We’re using real chemical engineering and material science to take what is seen as just as this commodity where there is no room for innovation and really fundamentally disrupt it.” said Homuth, “There’s so much opportunity for innovation in more traditional industries like apparel.”

This isn’t Homuth’s first venture. Prior to Sheerly Genius, she co-founder ShopLocket, an e-commerce platform which she sold to PCH International in 2014, as well as Female Funders, an online education platform which was acquired by Highline Beta last year.

The company is focusing on just pantyhose for now, but Homuth told CNBC that the fabric could be applied to something like athletic wear, or other forms of apparel that need lightweight fiber fabric but with durability.

The pantyhose will cost $79 for early-bird Kickstarter buyers, then retail for $145 after that. The tights also come with a 30-day money back guarantee…just in case.

Chinese student to be deported after paying $3,000 to impostor to help her get into American university

A Chinese student will be deported after pleading guilty to paying $3,000 to have an impostor take an English-language college entrance exam that helped her get into an American university.

Leyi Huang, 21, was sentenced Monday in federal court in Boston to time served and she agreed to be deported, according to Reuters. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Huang told authorities she paid $3,000 and mailed her Chinese passport to an address in Massachusetts to have Yue Wang, 25, take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam to help her get into Penn State Behrend, the news agency reported, citing court papers.

Wang, a student at the Hult International Business School in Cambridge, also signed on to take the test for two other students as part of a similar scheme to help them get into Northeastern University and Arizona State University, collecting $7,000 in total, the Boston Globe reported.

The newspaper said Huang previously failed the exam on her own, which kept her out of Penn State Behrend. But she was later accepted into the school in Erie, Pa., and handed a student visa after Wang passed the exam for her in March 2016.

All four people were arrested on immigration-related charges in May and the two other women – who were also issued student visas after being admitted into universities – received similar punishments, according to Reuters.

Officials said Wang was sent back to China in September.

“Illegal schemes to circumvent the TOEFL exam jeopardize both academic integrity and our country’s student visa program,” William B. Weinreb, acting U.S. Attorney, had said following the arrests.

“The TOEFL exam ensures that international students have adequate English language skills to succeed in higher education programs in the United States. It also helps maintain the security of our borders and immigration system,” he added. “By effectively purchasing passing scores, they violated the rules and regulations of the exam, taking spots at U.S. colleges and universities that could have gone to others.”

Data from the Institute of International Education showed that the number of Chinese students studying in the U.S. in the 2016-2017 academic year was up 6.8 percent, to 350,755, Reuters reported.

Footwear company Nine West files for bankruptcy and will sell some brands

A woman enters a Nine West store in New York.

U.S. footwear and apparel company Nine West filed for bankruptcy on Friday and said it would sell its Nine West and Bandolino footwear and handbag business to Authentic Brands Group.

Nine West, which owns brands such as Anne Klein and Gloria Vanderbilt, said it had received $300 million in debtor-in-possession financing and had entered a restructuring agreement.

The company, which had missed a debt interest payment in March, now plans to focus on its apparel, jewelry and jeanswear businesses.

Reuters had reported of Nine West’s plans on Thursday and sources had said the company had about $1.5 billion in debt.

U.S. retailers are going through a period of upheaval, with more than 15 filing for bankruptcy last year unable to stand up to competition from online shopping.

Nine West listed assets in the range of $500 million to $1 billion, according to a court filing. The filing also stated Nine West’s liabilities in the range of $1 billion to $10 billion.

Birth trauma mother ‘wanted to die’

Alex Flowers and her daughter Ruby

“The midwife completely ignored me, I may as well not have been there.”

Alex Flowers, from Derbyshire, has told the BBC how she suffered physical and mental problems after “not being in control” during her daughter’s birth.

The lowest point came 18 months later when Alex’s best friend found her sitting on the kitchen floor saying she wanted to die.

In a Mumsnet survey, very few mothers felt they received “great medical care” for certain conditions after birth.

Only 6% of the 1,224 women surveyed by the parenting website whose pelvic floor or continence had been affected as a result of giving birth were “extremely happy” with the care they were given.

And 34% of women who suffered a tear while giving birth or had a Caesarean felt they did not have adequate care or advice in the first few weeks afterwards.

The women questioned had all experienced problems after giving birth between 2013 and 2016.

‘The baby is going to die’

Alex explained how a change of shift during her long labour with her daughter in November 2013 had long-term effects on both her and her husband.

“I was making really good progress with the labour but unfortunately the midwife who had been dealing with me was taken off the end of her shift and replaced by another one, who, I felt, didn’t really want to be there and had too many cases to deal with,” she said.

After Alex had been in labour for 23 hours she started to feel something was wrong with the movements of her baby.

However, Alex says, the midwife “was saying to my husband, ‘Don’t worry, it’s the throes of a woman in labour’ and ignoring me”.

“I thought, ‘I’ve got no control here’ and everything I was saying about there being something wrong with the baby, she was almost tutting, rolling her eyes and saying it was normal.

“Two hours after I started saying something was wrong, I grabbed my husband and said, ‘If you don’t listen to me, the baby is going to die.’

“They checked after that and the baby’s heart had nearly stopped. Then it was a case of a mad rush, someone pressing the panic button and them all running in.

“As a result, I was told there was no time to give me any anaesthetic, but I had already given up and thought I was going to be walking out with no baby.

“In my head, she had already gone and it was too late to do anything and even just saying it again is heartbreaking.

“I had to have an episiotomy with no anaesthetic and then they used forceps to pull the baby out. She was fine but I was left with a lot of damage and blood loss and was sent home the very next day, even though I had been stitched up wrong and some of the placenta had been left in. It was a mess the whole way through.”

Image copyright Getty Images

The effects of this traumatic episode on Alex and her husband were dramatic.

She had to return to hospital to have the stitches corrected and also suffered from severe post-natal depression, while her husband initially could not bond with his daughter, and would not pick her up for six weeks.

“I wasn’t really coping and after 18 months, one of my best friends found me sitting on the kitchen floor saying I wanted to die and I was convinced my daughter was going to die or be taken away from me.

“I then started seeing a counsellor and he helped me understand that what happened wasn’t my fault and I felt like that because I had a lack of control during the labour and had never had closure from that.”

Alex says the first step on her road to recovery came when she started taking an antidepressant, which she says she is going to have to take for the rest of her life.

“I was originally heartbroken but then thought if it means I can feel normal and look after my baby, then it’s worth it.”

The upset also led Alex and her husband to decide not to have any more children -but she became pregnant again and initially “panicked”.

“My consultant agreed I could have a Caesarean and I felt so much better as I was in control of what was happening.”

Alex advises women who find themselves in a similar position not to stay silent.

“You must speak out straight away and not get to the point where it turns into post-natal depression,” she says.

“Your concerns are valid and what matters is having somebody there with you who is not afraid to speak out on your behalf.

“If a woman in labour is saying how she feels, she mustn’t be ignored. We’re not fine and and the damage that can be done – both physical and mental – can last for ever.”

Cardiff teen goes to Germany for scoliosis surgery on spine

Erin Morgan-Ring with Dr Per Trobisch

A teenage runner and gymnast will travel to Germany on Saturday for ground breaking spinal surgery which is not yet available on the NHS.

Erin Morgan-Ring, 14, from Heath, in Cardiff, has been diagnosed with scoliosis, which means her spine twists and curves to the side.

She is the third Welsh child to travel abroad for the operation in a year.

The Welsh Government said NICE would assess any new evidence that supports introducing it on the NHS.

The most common surgery available in the UK, known as full fusion surgery, sees metal screws attached to the vertebrae which are then connected to rods to try to correct the curve.

Erin’s mother, Ceri Morgan, said her daughter would be forced to give up competitive sport if she opted for the NHS procedure, as experts concede it can leave patients with a more limited range of movement.

The family found out a new operation called Vertebral Body Tethering (VBT) was being offered by surgeons in the US and Germany – which uses screws and cord to correct the spinal curvature.

Experts say the keyhole surgery is less invasive and patients retain greater mobility.

The procedure has only been around for 10 years and is limited to teenagers and young people.

About 1,000 patients have been operated on during that time, but it is not approved by the NHS.

Ms Morgan said she noticed something was not quite right with Erin’s spine during a holiday in 2016.

“She was in a bikini and I just noticed that she wasn’t standing straight, when we came back we went straight to the doctor and were referred,” she said.

Doctors diagnosed scoliosis after seeing X-rays of Erin’s spine.

Full fusion surgery was offered by the NHS, but Ms Morgan heard about VBT which it is hoped will allow Erin to return to gymnastics, running and riding.

The family made contact with VBT expert Dr Per Trobisch at the St Brigida Hospital in Simmerath, Germany, and he agreed to carry out the procedure.

Ms Morgan said: “Erin literally did a back flip in his office.”

Erin’s family have been fundraising to secure the £42,000 needed to pay for the operation and Wales rugby player Sam Warburton and footballer Gareth Bale, are among those to donate items for auction to help raise money.

Dr Trobisch said he was convinced VBT surgery would become part of NHS treatment for selected patients but said it could take a few years to collect data to support its capabilities.

But he added: “It is important to know that VBT is not suitable for every scoliosis patient. Ideal patients are those who have residual spinal growth and a flexible scoliosis.

“Therefore, time is an important factor. Once a scoliosis with more than 40 degrees has been diagnosed, consulting a scoliosis expert should be arranged as soon as possible.”

In August last year, 14-year-old Emiah Ellis, from Brynna, Rhondda Cynon Taff, travelled to the same hospital in Germany for VBT surgery and was back at school within six weeks.

Her mother Menna Garland-Ellis, said: “It’s amazing, she can do everything she did before, she doesn’t have any pain, we’re very happy.”

Ten-year-old Megan Sadler, from Pembroke, travelled to the US for the operation last May. Her mother Laura said: “She’s doing great, you would never know she’s had the surgery.”

Only a small number of studies about the results of VBT have been published so far.

Experts say the failure rate of the procedure is less than 10% and patients whose treatment fails can be offered traditional spinal fusion.

A Welsh Government spokesman said VBT was not routinely commissioned by the NHS, but the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance would assess new evidence that may come to light in support of the procedure.

Nikul Bakshi, from the British Scoliosis Research Foundation, added: “There are currently no long-term results for VBT although early results in the US and UK look promising.

“As with many new treatments, there is currently a lot of patient, family and social media interest. However there are still a number of checks and balances which will be considered by bodies such as NICE.”

Man has ‘world’s worst’ super-gonorrhoea

Man

A man in the UK has caught the world’s “worst-ever” case of super-gonorrhoea.

He had a regular partner in the UK, but picked up the superbug after a sexual encounter with a woman in South East Asia.

Public Health England says it is the first time the infection cannot be cured with first choice antibiotics.

Health officials are now tracing any other sexual partners of the man, who has not been identified, in an attempt to contain the infection’s spread.

He picked up the infection earlier in the year.

The main antibiotic treatment – a combination of azithromycin and ceftriaxone – has failed to treat the disease.

Dr Gwenda Hughes, from Public Health England, said: “This is the first time a case has displayed such high-level resistance to both of these drugs and to most other commonly used antibiotics.”

Discussions with the World Health Organization and the European Centres for Disease Control agree this is a world first.

What is gonorrhoea?

The disease is caused by the bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

The infection is spread by unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex.

Of those infected, about one in 10 heterosexual men and more than three-quarters of women, and gay men, have no easily recognisable symptoms.

But symptoms can include a thick green or yellow discharge from sexual organs, pain when urinating and bleeding between periods.

Untreated infection can lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and can be passed on to a child during pregnancy

Analysis of the man’s infection suggests one last antibiotic could work. He is currently being treated and doctors will see if it has been successful next month.

So far no other cases – including in the British partner – have been discovered, but the investigation is still under way.

Dr Hughes added: “We are following up this case to ensure that the infection was effectively treated with other options and the risk of any onward transmission is minimised.”

Doctors have long been warning this could happen.

In 2015, there was an outbreak of azithromycin-resistant gonorrhoea centred on Leeds.

The fear is the bug could eventually become untreatable by any antibiotic.

Dr Olwen Williams, the president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV said: “The emergence of this new strain of highly resistant gonorrhoea is of huge concern and is a significant development.

“We are concerned that the problem will worsen due to the dramatic cuts that have been delivered to the public health budget.

“Worryingly this has left sexual health services at ‘tipping point’, with clinic closures coming at the worst possible time.”

Family sues doctor who ‘used his sperm’ to impregnate patient

DNA testing

A US woman is suing her parents’ former fertility doctor after claiming her DNA test results showed he secretly used his own sperm to help conceive her.

Kelli Rowlette sent a DNA sample to genealogy website Ancestry.com, and was surprised to receive results that did not match her to her father.

The 36-year-old thought the test was flawed before discovering the match was the doctor who delivered her.

Her parents consulted the Idaho fertility doctor before her birth.

Ms Rowlette’s lawsuit accuses now-retired obstetrician gynaecologist Gerald Mortimer of fraud, medical negligence, battery, emotional distress and breach of contract.

According to the lawsuit, Ms Rowlette was never told that her now-divorced parents ever had trouble conceiving her until she confronted them with the results of her DNA exam.

In the early 1980s Ms Rowlette’s parents – Sally Ashby and Howard Fowler – had been married and living in Idaho Falls near the Wyoming border.

Due to her father’s low sperm count and her mother’s uterine condition, Ms Rowlette’s parents elected to undergo a medical procedure in which her mother would be artificially inseminated with both sperm from her husband and a donor.

The couple had specified to Dr Mortimer that the donor be a current university student who was taller than 6ft (1.8m) with brown hair and blue eyes.

But for about three months, the reproductive specialist allegedly inseminated her mother with his own semen, according to court documents.

The parents say had they known the doctor was going to use his own semen, they would not have consented to the procedure.

When the parents informed the doctor – who delivered the child and cared for her after she was born – that they were moving to Washington state, he “cried”, according to the lawsuit.

“Dr Mortimer knew Kelli Rowlette was his biological daughter but did not disclose this to Ms Ashby or Mr Fowler,” the complaint said.

“Dr Mortimer fraudulently and knowingly concealed his use of his own genetic material in the procedure.”

Last year, Ms Rowlette says she contacted her mother to say she believed the results of her Ancestry.com test were inaccurate.

Her mother was “devastated” when Ms Rowlette told her the name listed as her parent.

Ms Ashby then contacted her ex-husband about the news and the two decided not to reveal their suspicions.

Ms Ashby and Mr Fowler “struggled to cope with their own anguish and had difficulty contemplating the torment the discovery would cause their daughter when she found out”, according to the lawsuit

But when Ms Rowlette later discovered a copy of her birth certificate, which bore Dr Mortimer’s name and signature, she contacted her parents in “panic” to discuss his connection.

Ms Rowlette’s attorney told local media in a statement the family decided to publicise their story “for the purpose of holding the responsible parties accountable for a grievous and damaging violation of trust. While the family understands the public’s interest in their story, they ask that their privacy be respected as they focus on the difficult process of healing from this trauma”.

A spokeswoman for Ancestry.com told the Washington Post that DNA testing “helps people make new and powerful discoveries about their family history and identity.

“We are committed to delivering the most accurate results, however with this, people may learn of unexpected connections.”

An Indiana fertility doctor pleaded guilty last year to a similar case, in which he was accused of artificially inseminating several of his patients with his own sperm.

Paternity tests showed he was likely the biological father of at least two of his patients’ children, court records show.

The unspoken alcohol problem among UK Punjabis

Illustration showing silhouette of man in doorway while a woman and a small girl lie on the floor

For many British Punjabis, alcohol abuse is an open secret. Alcohol consumption is glamorised across different aspects of Punjabi culture and shame stops many seeking the help that they need.

Harjinder read her daughter Jaspreet one last bedtime story, then kissed her goodnight. She was exhausted after a long day, and drifted off next to her daughter. Her toddler son was already asleep in the next room.

The next thing she remembers is her husband yelling. He was drunk and furious that when he returned from the pub she wasn’t in their marital bed. In a rage, he flipped the child’s bed throwing his wife and daughter to the floor. Harjinder hit the radiator hard with Jaspreet landing on top of her.

Incidents like this were a regular feature of Jaspreet and her brother Hardeep’s childhood. “It was heartbreaking,” Jaspreet says.

So when Harjinder found Hardeep, now aged 16, drinking whisky in his room after an argument with his alcoholic dad, she was terrified that he was following in his father’s footsteps.

There are around 430,000 Sikhs in the UK, making up a significant proportion of the British Punjabi population. Harjinder herself is Sikh and amongst her community her experience isn’t unique.

A new survey, commissioned by the BBC to investigate attitudes to alcohol among British Sikhs, found that – although drinking alcohol is forbidden in Sikhism – 27% of British Sikhs report having someone in their family with an alcohol problem. It’s a problem which is rarely talked about openly in the community

 

Harjinder moved in with her husband’s family after their arranged marriage – both common practices within Punjabi and wider South Asian communities. She was shocked to find out how much her newly acquired family’s social life centred around the men’s excessive drinking.

The family, along with young children, would go to a friend’s house and would stay there until two or three o’clock in the morning waiting for the men, and she started to feel increasingly isolated.

Rav Sekhon, a British Punjabi psychotherapist who works with ethnic minority communities, says: “There is really strong pride and honour for the family name. They don’t want anyone to perceive them as having something wrong with them or any form of weakness.”

Oklahoma teachers’ demands like a ‘teenager wanting a better car,’ governor says

Oklahoma’s teachers are asking for more education spending than the state can afford, Gov. Mary Fallin insisted Tuesday.

“Teachers want more,” Fallin told CBS News in an interview. “But it’s kind of like a teenager wanting a better car.”

Fallin, a Republican, signed a measure last week raising teachers’ salaries by about $6,100 per year, while increasing school funds by $50 million – roughly 20 percent of what educators were seeking.

On Tuesday, Fallin followed up by signing a measure to raise the wages of school support staff, such as janitors and teaching aides, by $1,250.

“I’m pleased to sign this bill that provides a significant increase in spending for our public school system,” Fallin said, according to Fox 25 in Oklahoma City. “I’m hoping this additional funding will result in improved K-12 public school results. Our job as a state is to empower our students, parents and teachers to succeed by setting the bar high and challenging each other to succeed.”

“Our job as a state is to empower our students, parents and teachers to succeed by setting the bar high and challenging each other to succeed.”

– Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin

Strikes began Monday, as hundreds of Oklahoma schools closed, with many public schools expecting to remain shut for the rest of the week, the Oklahoman reported.

In Kentucky, thousands of educators marched to the state Capitol of Frankfort on Monday to rally for additional funding. Last week, hundreds of Kentucky educators called out sick to protest the state’s last-minute changes to their pension system, which passed the Republican-controlled Kentucky Legislature and would change the pension plan for new teachers, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

The average starting teacher salaries in Oklahoma and Kentucky are below the national average, at $31,919 and $36,494 respectively. For the 2016-17 school year, the national average was $38,617, according to the National Education Association.

Last week at the Arizona state Capitol in Phoenix, teachers demanded a 20 percent increase in wages, the Arizona Republic reported.

West Virginia teachers earned a 5 percent increase in pay last month after a nine-day walkout.

Soft drink sugar tax starts, but will it work?

A young boy drinks cola

The “ground-breaking” sugar tax on soft drinks has come into force in the UK.

From Friday manufacturers have to pay a levy on the high-sugar drinks they sell.

Ministers and campaigners believe it has already proved to be a success with many firms reducing sugar content ahead of the change. But others say it is still too early to judge the impact.

Leading brands such as Fanta, Ribena and Lucozade have cut the sugar content of drinks, but Coca-Cola has not.

The introduction of the levy means the UK joins a small handful of nations, including Mexico, France and Norway, which have introduced similar taxes.

How will it work?

The levy is being applied to manufacturers – whether they pass it on to consumers or not is up to them.

Drinks with more than 8g per 100ml will face a tax rate equivalent to 24p per litre.

Those containing 5-8g of sugar per 100ml will face a slightly lower rate of tax, of 18p per litre.

Pure fruit juices will be exempt as they do not carry added sugar, while drinks with a high milk content will also be exempt due to their calcium content.

Originally, the Treasury forecast it would raise more than £500m a year, but that has now been reduced to £240m because some manufacturers have reduced the sugar content in their products.

In England that income is being invested in schools sports and breakfast clubs.

Products such as cakes, biscuits and other foods are not covered by the tax, although a separate initiative is encouraging manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of those items voluntarily.

‘Too much stick, not enough carrot’

But will it work? The jury is still out.

University of Bedfordshire nutrition expert Dr Daniel Bailey said that while the levy is a “positive step” in tackling obesity and had led to a “notable” reaction by the industry, the response by consumers is uncertain.

“The increase in tax placed on soft drinks will make products more expensive, but will this actually discourage people from buying them?

“We could just end up with consumers buying the same amount but paying more.”

Polling suggests this may be the case for many people.

Research by Mintel found just under half of Britons say taxing unhealthy products would encourage them to cut back.

By comparison easier-to-understand nutritional information would alter the purchasing habits of three-quarters of people, the survey of 2,000 people showed.

Mintel’s associate director of food and drink Emma Clifford said it suggested “carrot” rather than “stick” may be a better approach.