Meet Lauren Schwab and Marissa Vosper, founders of Negative Underwear. The two University of Pennsylvania grads launched the startup in 2014 to shake up the multi-billion-dollar lingerie industry.
Vosper and Schwab both felt that no other companies were doing lingerie well. They couldn't find a brand that reflected their sense of style, and wanted to make something better.
They were looking for bras and underwear that were functional and comfortable, but also cool, without embellishments like bows, lace, and push-ups.
Working in branding and finance, they had no experience in fashion, let alone lingerie, so they started from the ground up. Schwab says they took night classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology, studying both fashion design and product development, and started considering potential business opportunities.
Then they went to trade shows in New York and Paris to look at the different brands already out there. And they spent a lot of time in fitting rooms and lingerie stores throughout New York trying on different products in the market, critiquing what they didn't like, and finding pieces that they did.
They did all of that on nights on weekends for four years, while holding down their day jobs, until February of 2014 when they launched a limited all-black collection online, pricing bra and bottom sets around $100. Negative Underwear launched with five bras, eight bottoms and four t-shirts.
The Wall Street Journal wrote about Negative on the first day, and the orders started flying off the shelves.
Vosper says they broke even on their initial production costs, entirely funded by Schwab and Vosper, in the first five days and sold out most of their styles in the first few weeks. The two made a commitment to be self-funded, and in spite of some very attractive offers, have remained independent.
In this day and age, where everyone is raising money, the pair says taking on outside investors is tempting, but they want to stay true to their vision and their brand. So far, that strategy has worked.
Former Lucky Magazine Editor-in-Chief Eva Chen named Negative one of her favorite brands.
Gwyneth Paltrow asked them to come up with an exclusive design for her Goop website.
And just this week, Miley Cyrus was spotted on Instagram several times wearing Negative's brand new bodysuit. She apparently can't stop and won't stop wearing it.
When it comes to Negative's regular customers, Schwab and Vosper believe their customer service, free shipping and returns, and top quality make all the difference.
Negative sources elastics from Japan, fine fabrics from Belgium, and hook and eyes from France. Schwab calls their materials the best of the best and says they were unwilling to sacrifice on quality.
Both women believe that wearing good underwear is the best form of self-love, because putting on something in the morning that makes you feel great changes the way you approach your entire day.