Twinnks, created by twin sisters Rebecca and Rachel, is a modernized t-shirt bra that solves all of the most common “brablems”. Not only does it have the molded, seamless cups for comfort and support, but it goes a step further and smooths out the edge of the cups, making it invisible under clothes. Eventually, they hope to expand into all things basic: t-shirts, undershirts, tank tops and more.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
We’re the youngest of four girls (I know...our poor dad), born and raised in Birmingham, AL. In 2015, after months of talking about this idea for a new bra, we finally decided to go for it. We’re almost two years into development and plan to officially launch at the end of 2017. In the meantime, we both still have our full-time jobs (Rachel in marketing, Rebecca in insurance). In fact, up until this point, we have been keeping our identities on our website and social media pages under wraps because we didn’t want to risk having our work see it. But the opportunity to be on Fem Founder is worth it, so we’re throwing caution to the wind.
What inspired you to start your business?
Getting dressed. But really, it started with a mutual frustration for bras that claim to be “invisible under clothing” but after a short period of wear would show the visible cup lines (which we refer to as the “VCL”). We read countless articles as to why this happens: wrong size, you’re washing it too much or too little, you’re wearing it too much, you should get professionally measured every 6 months, the list goes on and it fueled us to start Twinnks. The reason it happens is simple: there’s an abrupt transition from the bra cup to the skin, so after the slightest wear, the line shows. We had a very clear vision of how a bra should be constructed to fix it and it didn’t exist.
Where is your business based?
Online, but we both live in North Carolina.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
In our initial research, we came across MakersRow.com, which is an online network that connects entrepreneurs with factories (very helpful, we highly recommend). From there, we contacted several manufacturers to see if they could make a prototype for us. We found one in San Francisco that really understood the idea and we’ve been with them ever since!
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Social media, hands down—especially Instagram. Not only is it a great way to build a brand and raise awareness, it also allows our potential market to get to know us and our personalities.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Coming into a very competitive industry with no experience in product development. In the beginning, we were overwhelmed because there’s so much to learn and we had no idea where to start. There is a ton of information out there about starting a company, but we realized that we’re never really going to learn until we do it. So we hired the factory, started on development and asked a lot of questions along the way (our designer can vouch for this). Now look at us, we’re product development geniuses.
How do you stay focused?
By constantly thinking about the end goal. We both have a really strong work ethic, so even though we still have full-time jobs, we’re extremely determined to make Twinnks a success.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
For starters, we’re women, which is a rare find in this industry. Most bra companies are run by men who seem to love lace, tiny bows and push up cups. That’s cute and all, but we’re not about the frill. Our focus is on functionality, comfort and, of course, making it flattering. Second, we’re committed to relating to our customers rather than talk down to them. There are a lot of brands that position themselves as experts and treat customers like students. That’s not our style. We’re extremely new to this world and we won’t pretend otherwise. Lastly, we’re actually building this company from the ground up. Everything is self-funded: no GoFundMe page (although, nothing against it) and no venture capitalist hurling money at us.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
Social media without a doubt. We knew what we wanted our tone and aesthetic to be early on and started planning our posting-schedule four months before launching. We’re currently taking an Instagram marketing class through ilovecreatives.com. The creator, Jennifer Puno, grew her Instagram following from zero to 80,000 in one year so she’s good.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
This is cliché, but patience is a virtue. It's so easy to get caught up in the eagerness to launch, but it's so important to focus on the product and get it to where you want it to be, rather than where it's “just passable”. In reality, it probably won't happen according to your timeline and that's usually for the best
Use your support system and reciprocate. We were pleasantly surprised at how supportive everyone was, and not just our immediate friends and family. Our generation has the reputation of being entitled and unwilling to work, but we couldn't disagree more. Millennials have great work ethic, we just insist on working for something we actually care about. And what's even better, there's so much support from people (even strangers) in the same situation, so become a part of the comradery! There are a lot of startup communities out there that help connect like-minded people, whether it's for collaborations, feedback, advice, promotion, really anything. Groups like Rising Tide Society and SocietyGal are great places to start. Put yourself out there.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
This is hard because there are so many good ones for both business & personal use.
Blogs: Instagram’s Business Blog is a great source for content inspiration (they literally have “inspiration” as a category). Also, Buffer and Entrepreneur.com’s blogs are great for startups and strategy.
Apps- It’s lame to say out loud, but pretty much all social media apps (you have to stay in the know!). We also use Later to schedule posts and Google Drive.
Podcasts- you didn’t ask, but we are podcast fanatics so we’re throwing it in there.
● How I Built This is amazing. It’s really inspiring to hear how some of the most successful companies got started.
● The Art of Charm (both a blog & podcast) ties personal development and social skills into successful business relationships. Let’s be honest, incorporating human behavior into anything is so interesting. We are a crazy species.
● My Favorite Murder- We can’t talk podcast without mentioning this. A great go-to when you need a break from reality. We love true crime and the hosts are hilarious.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
We’ve already mentioned it, but MakersRow.com is a great one. Also, since we work in separate places, Google Drive has been extremely useful. Peoplemap.co is an Instagram tool that we use daily. It lets you comment, filter, build lists and analyze Instagram from a desktop.
Who is your business role model? Why?
It's hard to pinpoint one but we have serious admiration for Whitney Wolfe (founder of Bumble). After being sexually harassed and suspended as Co-Founder of Tinder, she walked away with her middle finger up and started a competing app that empowers women and she's killing it. It’s inspiring.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
Perfecting and launching our product. We’ve worked so hard preparing for this moment and there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Following our own advice from question #10, we will not launch just to launch. Above all else is the quality of the product so the first batch will go to our test audience to ensure it successfully solves the problem before selling it. We’ve mapped out our marketing strategy so once we’re certain it’s ready, we will H-U-S-T-L-E.
How can our readers connect with you?
Website: www.twinnks.com (*make note of the two N’s, using only one will get you a pornographic surprise)