It never ceases to amaze me how entrepreneurs discover innovative ways to create new marketplaces or improve upon existing ones. Take underwear for instance. Everyone wears them (or at least most), so you’d think that all of the bases would be covered by now.
But one bad underwear shopping experience for Jonathan Shokrian was the catalyst for him to launch MeUndies, a lifestyle brand who’s ethos is to produce the world’s most comfortable and sustainable underwear with a simple and fun shopping experience through their online platform.
Shokrian tells me, “Before launching MeUndies, I was working in commercial real estate and traveling a lot. I didn’t have enough underwear for a trip I was going on so I went to the department store to pick up a few pairs, but the whole shopping experience was uncomfortable and inconvenient. I was overpaying for what was deemed “premium” underwear that wasn’t even comfortable. The a-ha moment for MeUndies came when I realized this disconnect with brand and product and saw the opportunity to provide men and women with a transparently made, better quality product, sold conveniently”.
In 2011, at the age of 25 with $400,000 of start-up funds raised from friends, family, and angel investors, Shokrian set out on a mission to disrupt the way underwear is manufactured and purchased.
On track to sell 5 million units in 2017, Shokrian has tapped into a clearly underserved market. “Since launching MeUndies nearly five years ago,” he says, “Our commitment to providing a best in class product with a world class e-commerce experience has remained the same. We’ve shipped nearly 3 million pairs of undies, and we’re constantly looking for new ways to exceed our customers’ expectations.”
One area where MeUndies squarely delivers is on comfort. The fabric is luxuriously soft on your skin. Shokrian tells me, “From the start, we were in search of a premium fabric that would hold up and that was unique. When we handed out our first pair of (beechwood) underwear it was so soft people were literally rubbing it against their faces. The Micro-Modal fabric that’s made from beechwood trees is three times softer than cotton, shrink resistant, moisture wicking, and holds color better than cotton. It was an easy choice.” Another smart design choice made by Shokrian and his team is the waistbands. The material doesn’t cut into your skin (or your figure) and lays flat against the contours of your body.
MeUndies has also resonated with consumers with their focus on responsible manufacturing from start to finish. MeUndies are made from a carbon-neutral process that converts sustainably harvested beechwood pulp into fibers while simultaneously capturing excess chemicals and manufactured in some of the finest facilities in Los Angeles, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. Shokrian credits Patagonia founder, Yvon Choinard for paving the way for companies like his to design high performance apparel utilizing sustainable practices. “MeUndies are good for the earth and comfy on the bum,” jokes Shokrian.
MeUndies offers a wide variety of styles for both men and womenranging from classic colors to playful prints (like the Keith Haring Collection). The company also has expanded into loungewear with a seasonal French terry collection available now, and has some exciting new product launches lined up for 2017 and beyond. Shokrian tells me, “We chose classic cuts that are timeless to start with. We don’t want customers to feel overwhelmed with dozens of options. We’re using the latest technology and stitching to ensure our products are the highest quality so it feels good each time a customer puts them on.”
In addition to customers’ ability to order MeUndies one pair at a time or in convenience packs, the company just launched a new subscription model with three curated prints and colors (Classic, Bold & Adventurous) to make purchasing undergarments even easier and more convenient, especially for those who can get a little complacent in this area.
“The subscription model works really well for underwear because people tend to have more underwear than any other article of clothing. It’s something that we replenish frequently, though many of us avoid this due to the unenjoyable shopping experience. We also found that people didn’t have a strong brand affinity with any underwear brands and saw a huge opportunity for disruption,” shares Shokrian.
Subscribers are located in all 50 states and in 37 countries worldwide and account for roughly 25% of MeUndies’ overall business, which has grown by 188% over the past year. Shokrian tells me, “Transparency with our program has been the key to our success. Our messaging is upfront and clear and there are no confusing terms or contracts. We’ve made an opt-in program that allows customers the flexibility to skip, cancel, or change their plan directly online—no gimmicks.” You can keep your drawers fresh with new MeUndies and ditch the old ones as needed—genius.
On what he has learned on his journey to becoming the king of the most comfortable underwear in the world Shokrian tells me, “Throughout this entire process, I’ve learned the importance of humility and to never become complacent. It’s important to maintain a level head, put your business and customers first, and leave your ego at the door.”
Meggen Taylor , CONTRIBUTOR