Get to know a Toronto startup: Knix Wear
Tackling the reinvention of women's underwear with your first startup venture is no small feat. But that's exactly what Joanna Griffiths set out to do when she launched Knix Wear last month on crowdfunding website Indiegogo. The campaign aims to raise $40,000 in 30 days to fund the first production run, which will be available in July, and currently sits at just over $35,000 with a few days left to go.
Built on tons of research Joanna gathered from doctors, physiotherapists, medical journals, and from speaking with and surveying women, she found that as many as 1 in 3 women have an occasional "light leak" due to stress incontinence. This can be a common problem for women who are pregnant, for example.
With this is mind, Knix Wear knickers were designed to bring women comfort and confidence with the help of a patented technology: an ultra-thin super absorbent gusset that wicks away moisture and eliminates odor to keep women feeling fresh and dry all day long. And the line doesn't sacrifice fashion for function. Knix Wear has an everyday, lace and athlectic line all designed by seasoned lingerie designer Kris Goojha, who has worked with major brands like Victoria Secret.
Here's what founder Joanna Griffiths had to say about the journey of her Toronto-based startup:
What exactly inspired you to start Knix Wear?
I was inspired to start Knix Wear following a conversation I had with my mom, who's a doctor, about the physical realities of becoming a mother. There had yet to be an everyday underwear brand on the market that truly combined fashion, function and fit - that was designed with women's many needs in mind - and so with that the idea for Knix Wear was born.
How does the business make money?
Knix Wear is a bit of a hybrid. We have an e-commerce site where women can buy all of our styles online and learn more about the technology behind Knix Wear. In addition we are also pursuing physical retail distribution through boutiques and department stores. We've designed our packaging so that it can be sold both where women traditionally shop for underwear (lingerie boutiques, the intimates section of your local department store) and in non-traditional underwear retail outlets like yoga studios, gyms, spas, maternity boutiques and more.
Why use crowdfunding to help launch Knix?
I'm a big fan of testing ideas and gathering as much information as possible to make educated decisions. Launching with crowdfunding allows you to do both. We've been able to speak directly with our customers and hear what they like about our product and things they'd like to see added or modified. Our goal was always to use this information to shape our first production run (and we have!).
We've already added a new style and plus sizes based on customer feedback. It's an incredible opportunity to work with your customers to make a product that they really want. It also was a good way to minimize the risk associated with the order by pre-selling product to help finance the production run.
What have been the biggest challenges to getting your startup off the ground?
The production piece in general has been a challenge. The apparel industry is a difficult one to navigate and this was only amplified because we are a startup and creating something that hasn't been done before. It was really challenging to find the right partner who had the expertise AND the patience to work with us while we developed the product. We've gone through hundreds of samples and prototypes and finding a patient partner to work through those steps was challenging.
Any tips or lessons that you can share with any aspiring startup founders reading this?
A good friend of mine taught me the expression "No hands, no cookies" which basically means that if you want something, you have to put yourself out there and ask for it. For me this was difficult at first and felt unnatural but it's something that we have come to live and breathe by at Knix Wear.
We are constantly asking people for help and advice and pushing ourselves to do more and it's been incredible to see how receptive people are - especially in the startup stage. Starting a business takes a lot of work, there are huge learning curves and likely limited resources asking for help, and getting the right kind of help is key.
Where do you see the business a year from now?
A year from now hopefully we will have a great online business, be in hundreds of stores across North America and have some exciting new styles and products to add to our collection.