Meet the Joey Pouch, an athleisure design by La Betri of St. Pete

After yoga class at The Body Electric, Melody Mendoza-Auslander walked into Publix without her purse and did the universal post-workout juggle of wallet, keys, and phone.

The St. Petersburg resident and longtime apparel aficionado had been searching for this ‘aha’ moment, asking: What challenge can a new athleisure line solve? The idea for the Joey Pouch was born right then and there.

Mendoza-Auslander soon formed an apparel company, called it La Betri, and got to work.

“La Betri means to make things better in Swahili, so it seems a fitting name,” she says. “I want these leggings to be in every woman’s closet because they improve quality of life.”

During COVID, the former school principal who had worked in the apparel industry years before designed the Joey Pouch and the corresponding legging. It took a number of prototypes to get the design exactly right before launch in April 2020. A cross between a crossbody bag and a fanny pack, the Joey is attached to a buttery-soft legging and can be worn either externally or tucked into the waistband. The patent-pending design keeps bulk at a minimum while storing an impressive number of items. Mendoza-Auslander had solved the grocery juggling issue forever.

The leggings aren’t just for women toting extras, either. Made of antimicrobial fabric, the high-end pants go from workout to wherever by combating odor. They are silky and breathable. They’re eco-friendly, too: after a short time in a landfill, they’ll compost. Think of these pants as ‘functional chic’ staples that go from sneakers to soirees. All La Betri leggings in the Joey Pouch line are crafted from fabric that retains its shape extremely well; that means a sleek fit with no bagginess. La Betri uses quality fabric certified by OEKA-TEX to ensure sustainability. And every pair of leggings is made in the USA.

La Betri is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida and maintains design studios in Los Angeles and Miami. A socially responsible, multifunctional luxury apparel company, La Betri values preserving the environment and supporting women to lead a healthy lifestyle -- in great pants.

Find the Joey Pouch at labetri.com and select retailers. A fashion show debut is currently being planned at The St. Pete Greenhouse; more information is upcoming. Future plans for La Betri include apparel line expansions and, hopefully, Joey Pouch fans worldwide.

“I want the Joey Pouch legging to be the next skinny jean,” Mendoza-Auslander says. “They should be in every woman’s closet because they make life better.”

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Read more articles by Amy Hammond.

Amy Hammond is a freelance writer and author of children’s books that encourage the next generation to attend college. When not indoctrinating youth about the necessity of higher education, she enjoys exploring the paradise that is her St. Petersburg home. She holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida and a Masters in Secondary English Education from the University of South Florida. Her work has appeared in such venues as the Tampa Bay Times. Children’s Book Titles by Amy Hammond include: When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Gator; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a ‘Nole; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Bull; When I Grow Up, I’m Bama Bound; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Tiger.
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