“No one will regret owning this bra.” Bold words. But Joanna Griffiths, the Toronto-based CEO and founder of the underwear start up Knix Wear, has reason to be bold—one million reasons. In just 40 days, her hybrid bra, which you can wear to work, then the gym, raised over $1 million on Kickstarter. The tally is currently at $1,105,177 and counting—the largest sum for a female-led fashion project in the crowd-sourcing site’s history. “We’re basically in shock at the moment,” says Griffith, 31. The “evolution bra” is the second great idea from Griffith, who started Knix Wear in 2012 with a line of high-tech, athletic underpants designed to combat lady problems like leakage, wedgies and mid-workout odor. Here, she talks to FLARE about crowd sourcing, running a start up and what makes her bra a must-own.
What is it about the evolution bra that generated so much interest on Kickstarter?
We’re at the height of the athleisure trend. Women want to be comfortable and they want to be wearing performance apparel around the clock. We happen to sell a product that’s super-functional, and really practical: it’s reversible and gives eight different options in one. I think that every single woman has a use for this bra. No one will regret owning this bra.
What makes it different from other bras?
The biggest difference is that it uses this patented bonded construction that basically mimics the effect of wearing an underwire bra without needing an underwire. You still get lift, you get separation and support, but without the underwire. On top of that it’s fully reversible, so you buy one bra you get a black or beige option out of it. You can wear it straight back or cross back. The idea is that it evolves with you throughout her day. You can wake up in the morning and wear this bra to work, you can turn it around and make it cross back for more support and go straight to the gym.
I sneak around in a sports bra when I can’t face wearing a real bra. But then I get the dreaded uniboob. Did you hear other women make that complaint?
Uniboob is a No. 1 concern. Women want something that provides the comfort of a sports bra but doesn’t have that full compression. I was also really surprised to learn through this process how many people can’t wear underwires because they’ve had surgery or they have really sensitive skin. A fairly substantial group of women can’t wear underwire and their options are very limited.
I get that you can wear it from work to the gym, but can you wear it to work after the gym? What’s the smell factor?
First, I would say it’s for low-impact sports. I would not encourage anyone bigger than a B-cup to run in this bra. But if you’re going to yoga, Pilates, cycling—anything lower impact. The fabric is wick-free, quick dry and it’s also anti-microbial and deodorizing so it helps combats the sweat-smell dilemma.
But you don’t want to do a dance cardio class wearing it…
I did a Beyography class wearing it with a lot of jiggling, but it wouldn’t be my go-to if I was running a 10K. That’s our next project—to make a higher impact sports bra that’s really comfortable.
What is it like to run a start-up?
It’s a roller coaster ride. Everything is new and exciting, and you have to push yourself every day to be smarter and faster than you were the day before. I have to say, though, it’s incredible to feel like you’re building something: products, a team, a culture, momentum.
What does your daily grind look like?
Usually it will be a mix of product, production, marketing, finance, sales calls, team meetings and a lot of running around. Lately it feels like I blink and it’s 7 or 8 p.m.
What are your thoughts overall about crowdfunding?
We have chosen to pursue crowdfunding because it brings more than just money and working capital. It’s customers. It’s data, it’s information. It’s feedback and ideas in real time and a true signal of the appetite for a product innovation. But I will say that it’s also hard work and a lot of pressure. Personally, I love a challenge and I am a big fan of setting goals. For us, crowdfunding has been a game changer. I don’t know where our company would be without it.
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