Tailor’s frustration – and some encouragement from her wife Naomi Gonzalez – driving Fran Dunaway to bring masculine dresses to women. But when the couple noticed that they were boxer briefs flying over the boxing ring – instead of button-type shirts, they realized they had found their hero. – Tell Kate Rockwood
Fran: I want a cool button shirt, like Ben Sherman or Robert Graham, I can’t find it.
Naomi: I encourage her to start this business because she complains.
Fran: We didn’t bother looking for a job – I am an executive producer of a political media strategy company, Naomi is a massage therapist. We chose the name TomboyX because Naomi and I both thought they were kids, and we launched a Kickstarter within 30 days to raise $75,000.
In the first month, we almost quit. We started with this explosion and then responded to a drop in energy. In the fourth week, when our friend said, “When you don’t give up, we basically decided to leave.” So we devoted ourselves to that week – it was fun, trying to get people’s attention – we pushed it aside .
Honestly, this is a terrible moment. I am only 53 years old. Suddenly, I have to use up my money without messing up. You are looking for a bank account that is being reduced, and it is easy to doubt yourself. My parents are from Mississippi, I have a small rental house there, and we joked that this is our backup retirement plan.
Naomi: We had some friends who thought that TomboyX was not a good name. They are worried that we will disappoint people.
Fran: But we almost immediately noticed that the name caused a lot of attention. So we tried to put it on something different: shoes, belts, hats. Naomi handled the customer service call and she said that someone called to ask us to make boxer briefs for women. I typed “female boxer panties” on a department store website, the only one that appeared was Spanx. I am pretty sure this is not what most boys want. So we decided to order 600 pairs of underwear, tailored specifically for women, we sold 450 pairs before stocks even arrived at our office. Shirts sold well, but when we started selling underwear, our revenue tripled in six months.
Naomi: We met the founder of Tommy Bahama and he told us: “Find your hero product and delve into it. Build a strong follower.” With underwear, we thought we had a vein, but we Hit an artery. It just took off.
Fran: In 2015, we joined the accelerator MergeLane in Boulder, Colorado, and obtained the branding of the advertising company Crispin Porter + Bogusky through a cash stake. That is the chance for our rainbow unicorn. Naomi and I really revolved around this is a real career idea, we have reorganized the entire brand of underwear. We are not telling anyone – men or women or men or gender neutrals – how to become calm. We think you are cool, and underwear is the perfect “close to your skin” layer to confirm. This goes beyond gender, scale and skin tone. We don’t have everyone – but we are for anyone.
Because our hero products start with customer suggestions, we are a little obsessed with customer input. Let people tell you this is the first time they feel their skin is comfortable? This has aroused this profound sense of responsibility. Our latest swimwear category comes from customers who say they are eager to wear on the beach. You don’t know what you will hear before you listen.
One day, when the 11-year-old Zoey came with her parents, we were at the office. She is from Cheyenne, Wyoming, traveling with her family on a RV. She asks them to stay in Seattle so she can visit our headquarters. She makes us cry, and the brand is of great significance to this young tomboy in Wyoming. Zoey was the first girl to form a local football team. When she hit the field, she wore a TomboyX temporary tattoo under her football helmet.