In 2016, after working at Adore Me for 3 years, I decided I was ready to leave and bootstrap my own company. I really wanted to create something that had a positive uplifting vibe in the lingerie space. Something that portrayed women that looked more like me. I was tired of seeing women that I didn't relate to, women that felt too photoshopped to even be real. At that time most social media featured mostly mainstream models -- as they still do, but we're making progress!
In December 2016, I found a new job that would offer me a little bit more work-life-balance compared. Adore Me at that time was still very much a start-up with long hours and lots of team bonding time built in. Given my three-year tenure there, I was also excited about my new job because I wanted to find new mentors and this new #bosslady I had would prove to be a great one indeed!
I started working on my product right away, designing it and preparing a tech pack.. I had been sourcing new manufacturers for a while thinking that I would need to use a new network to create my products. I had signed a non-compete when I was hired at Adore Me. While I figured it would take more than a year for the expiration to launch my business, I also didn't want to step on any toes, burn bridges or wreck my existing network. This was probably a bad decision in hindsight. There is so much nuance to working with a new manufacturer and having a history working with someone or some company goes a long way.
I vetted several factories and found one that appeared highly capable and willing to work with me even though I projected initial small-volume orders. Once I decided on them I sent over the first round of tech packs and had them get to work. The first samples were made and the garments looked pretty good considering they were made in substituted lace and fabrics. After the first batch of tech packs, I decided to hire a technical designer skilled in underwire & intimates. My technical designer, Isabel was extremely helpful, she came over to my apartment and we fit the garment on myself, a 36DD. I wanted to fit on myself because I was trying to solve a very specific problem with my bra. I was determined to greatly reduce my back fat!
Several months later and hit or miss with improvements, we were getting closer but still not close enough and not fast enough. The cup shape was still off, and the back fat functionality was working and improving but the cups didn't fit as they should. The factory I chose would make 2 corrections but forgo making the other 5 or 6. We were having a hard time communicating with them and we were in many rounds of samples. We hit a roadblock with the sunk cost fallacy and felt like we couldn't start all over. The problem with the sunk cost fallacy is by the time you see it coming, you've already been there for a while.
So instead we kept going, changing our process for sending comments to try and make it more clear each and every time. Then after waiting weeks and weeks for a new sample, it would come in wrong. I started the process in November 2016 and by February 2018, I had decided that we needed to put this away for a while. The factory wasn't working, I was struggling as a solo founder and I was running out of money quickly without having a truly working (and well-fitting) prototype to show for it.
At the end of February, I decided to put it on pause/hiatus for a bit while I figured everything out. I wasn't sure how to continue with it as it was and I didn't think I could find an investor that would be interested in it in its present state it was in. I hadn't launched my product yet but I found a crowd of people on Instagram longing for it.
The first or second week in March I found out I had been accepted into Project Entrepreneur held by Rent the Runway and UBS. I decided to go so I could meet all these inspiring women and get the most out of the two-day conference that was held in April 2018. I wasn't sure how my business was going to shake out, but I had known for my entire life that I was going to be an entrepreneur because I am wild for ideas and creativity but I also love to sell people on anything fabulous!
Ever since then I've been figuring out the best way I can do what I love and lift up others at the same time. For me, that means working with new and growing companies to help them create products that resonate with their consumers and the planet at large. It means telling stories that shape the future marketplace to teach young girls to feel wonderful about themselves. It means creating a business that helps change the world of fashion in a great way. It means working on sustainability and making the environment part of our stories so that future generations of trendsetters still have a planet to enjoy.
KRSTN NDRSN was born from a change of plans, but the journey isn't over. It's just beginning.