Businesswoman Mixes Concealed Carry With Female Fashion

By Jennifer Johnson
Pioneer Press Newspapers, Suburban Chicago

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Meet Marilyn Smolenski, a suburban mother of two whose company “Nickel and Lace” is uniquely mixing concealed carry fashion with safety.

Pioneer Press Newspapers, Suburban Chicago

Marilyn Smolenski’s line of body wear isn’t the only thing her customers are concealing beneath their clothes.

Sporting pockets on both sides, Smolenski’s form-fitting top doubles as a handgun holster for one contingent of the concealed carry set: women.

The Park Ridge entrepreneur launched Nickel and Lace, a company mixing concealed carry fashion with safety, in 2012 after reaching a frustrating conclusion: The holsters she borrowed from her husband for use in a self-defense and safety course just didn’t hit the mark.

“All his holsters were incredibly uncomfortable for me,” said Smolenski, who grew up learning how to skeet shoot in Texas and Louisiana. “When I started doing my research, there was nothing on the market for women, except for a bra holster that literally clips underneath your bra.”

And so, an idea started to form.

“I came home, sat down with my sewing machine and got started making something for myself that I would like to wear regularly — and something that had multiple purposes,” Smolenski said.

The result was the “Shape Wear Holster,” an open bust camisole with two “cross-body draw holsters” resembling ordinary pockets.

Aware that a female-centered holster market was virtually nonexistent, Smolenski saw her design as a new business opportunity.

“I contacted some friends in the fashion industry to help me with patterns and touching base with manufacturers, and it just kind of went from there,” she said.

Sold mainly through her website, the Shape Wear Holster is described as “functional sexiness” that allows the wearer “to chose a holster for her wardrobe, rather than dressing for a bulky holster.” A new, shorter camisole is set to debut this Christmas or early in 2017, Smolenski said, and a suede outerwear vest, also made for concealed carry, is on the horizon.

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