Leslie Latterman MD is an entrepreneur, a mom, and a busy hospitalist. When Dr. Latterman came home after a long shift at the hospital with neck pain, she looked for solutions. After a while, she started noticing that her white coat wasn’t as functional as it could be, and realized that solving that problem could make a big difference in terms of comfort and practicality.
She decided to talk to other doctors about it. As it turned out, the women physicians she spoke with agreed that their white coats weren’t utilitarian or comfortable. The coats weren’t equipped to carry all of the items needed for patient care. She was even surprised to learn that some white coat details- such as the holes on the sides that seemed to her like they led to nowhere- are actually positioned so that men can reach items that are placed in their pant pockets.
With no background in design or business at all, Dr. Latterman began considering the idea of crafting a white coat to make women physicians’ lives’ easier. She started the process by searching for fabrics. By chance, she found a winter jacket made of a fabric that seemed perfect. She purchased the jacket and studied every detail of the fabric. She discovered that the luxurious fabric was quite pricey and could only be sourced in Italy.
She then visited Cotton Incorporated in in North Carolina, a site that is dedicated to cotton and fabric research. There, she was given a free consultation and learned more than she had ever known about fabrics. She made another trip, this time to The Fabric Institute of Technology in New York, where a scientist helped her identify the properties of the fabric she wanted.
Ultimately, she selected a fabric that was antimicrobial, anti wrinkle, stain resistant and enzyme treated for softness. She made sure that the fabric could stretch to accommodate the physical demands of patient care. She eventually met with a designer and a pattern maker. She selected buttons and created her own logo. And, after carefully adding special features such as a zippered pockets a functional shoulder epaulette attached with Velcro to hold a stethoscope. She sourced the fabric in China because it was not available elsewhere.
Finally, Dr. Latterman was able to make the coats available - and quickly received orders, depleting her supply. The next time around, she made sure to order a bigger supply. She explains that most of her customers order coats with a touch of pink under the collar
The self taught designer, who started in the clothing industry from the ground up, explains that as a mom with a full time job, the project took her 4 years to get from idea to reality. After several surprises and a few bumps along the way, the admitted perfectionist is proud of the final product.
Find the coats at designerlabcoats.com or follow designsbydrleslie on Facebook or Instagram
Physician Success Stories