Four years ago, when Nikki Puzzo haphazardly cut up a pair of her daughter Stella’s pajama pants and reconstructed them with Velcro on the sides so they could easily be taken on and off over a spica cast, she found it hard to believe that nothing like it was already on the market.
Puzzo was working in biotech at the time, but after Stella’s hip surgeon encouraged the design idea and her friend Joanne DiCamillo agreed to be her business partner, the befree company was born.
DiCamillo, with her marketing background, and Puzzo, with her empathetic insight as a mother of a child who is differently abled, created and trademarked zipOns. The comfortable pants are made with moisture-wicking polyester fabric, an elastic waist, and sides that unzip from waist to hem on both legs. For added comfort, the clothing tag usually found on the inside of the waist was placed on the outside bottom of the pants to prevent irritation.
Out of 1,600 applicants, befree was chosen to join the MassChallenge Boston accelerator program as part of the 2018 cohort. Puzzo and DiCamillo spend time between Boston and Swampscott, from where they both originate, and where they first met when their daughters became friends.