Small Business, Big Deal

When you run a small business, you work your ass off and feel like it’s never enough. Most often, I feel like a hammer looking for a nail. I find one, hammer it in, and I keep banging away long after the job is done, wearing myself out in the process.

I live and breathe this business. In fact, it’s all I ever talk about. So when my girl Kimmie, the genius behind Tasty Treat Polewear, pointed out to me that I don’t publicize Bee’s Knees’ ethical production, inclusive mission, and community impact enough, I was ready to hammer a nail into my own head.

How is that possible? It’s on the website!

Well, it turns out you gotta really hammer a message home before it really sinks in, and since hammering is what I do best, here goes:

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We are small batch manufactured ethically in the United States.

Bee’s Knees are handmade by a very small team of human beings. Each pair passes through human hands—including mine— right here in the USA, which means the people who make them are paid fairly for their skill and work. No forced labor. No cheap outsourced manufacturing. Why? Because fair wages matter.

We are size inclusive.

Four sizes and strap extenders mean we fit more people than any other knee pad. Bee’s Knees’ size chart is informed by the real people who wear them. Four months after I launched, strap extenders were born, thanks to a customer’s suggestion. “She Just Love My Big 10 Inch…. Strap Extenders” offer a whole new fit option for above sizing, in-between sizing, and uneven sizing. I encourage you to check out other pole dance knee pad brands’ size charts for yourself! No one else measures up.

We are the first skin color inclusive knee pad brand.

We disrupted the industry in 2019 by being the first knee pad company to offer multiple shades of nude. Why? Because a lot of pole dancers like to look naked, and not everyone feels nude in beige, right? I launched the Nudes in April 2019 with four different skin tones. Then in March 2021, Nudes 2.0 re-opened boasting a fifth tone and richer and more nuanced colors. You’ll see other brands offering a few more skin colors now, which is dope. We’re glad to have led the way. But Bee’s Knees will always be the first.

We are woman-owned… and that woman gives a shit.

There is a Bee behind Bee’s Knees—it’s me. And I care about the impact that my business and I have on the community. I was raised to do the right thing for intention, not attention. I do think people should know where their money goes, which is why I’ve always had a transparency page tucked into the footer of the website. But Kimmie made me realize that I can do more good by promoting the organizations BKKP supports, rather than keeping mum. Know that by supporting me, you support Soldiers of Pole, the Urban Justice Center, RAINN, the NAACP-LDF, and the Human Rights Campaign. Not just during a certain month or on a certain product. All the time. Every day. You’ll see more of these orgs in my social posts from now on. Please check out the good work they do.

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There’s a lot more to say about what makes Bee’s Knees Knee Pads an important brand to know. I don’t think Kimmie was trying to tell me to jam it all into one epic blog post-- and believe me, this hammer was trying to nail it all at once. Instead, she wanted me to think about impact and messaging, not just knee pads.

I was doubtful. Seriously Kim, can knee pads really change the world?  They’re just knee pads. Turns out, having an ethical economic impact and a mission for inclusion are a big deal for a small business. So to hammer the nail in the coffin, here are a few other brands that I love and respect:

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Butter and Filth, Virginia: Butter and Filth’s original minimalist designs are handcrafted in America. Their Premier Stripper Panties are pretty much my favorite bottoms of all time. The New Neveah Body suit is available in 6 sizes from S/M to 3X and comes in some pretty dope colors.

Tasty Treat, Massachusetts: No surprise here. Kimmie’s luxury pole and swimwear is made with high quality sustainable materials. Tasty Treat stocks tops and bottoms in 6 sizes, 3 standard and 3 curvy, with some products available through 2XL. You know she gives a shit too because she has links and educational resources to help people become more conscious consumers of fashion.

TrickTac Grip, New Jersey: Margie made a beeswax grip towel to solve her own grip issues and shared it with her friends before it occurred to her that she could sell it. She keeps her operation small and works from the heart. Gotta love that.

I’ve been reading up on Greece’s RAD Polewear and their commitment to fair wages and sustainability, as well as Australia’s Super Fly Honey and their commitment to sexual education for young girls in Kenya. But I’m hopeful there are more brands here in the States working to change the landscape. Who would you add to this list for their ethical practice, inclusive mission, or positive impact on the community?


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