Kristy Chong Is Replacing The Need For Disposable Hygiene With Sustainable Panties
Through her Give a Pair program, she delivers products to women’s shelters to help those who can’t afford feminine hygiene products. These reusable, absorbent, and leak-proof underwear are cleaned by being hand washed, allowing every woman in need to embrace her femininity.
She is currently working with big retailers in the US to create low-cost products for women in foreign countries who cannot afford sustainable products.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
It all started in Seattle. After the birth of my second child, I was doing a lot of running and traveling and came to the realization that my underwear was failing to protect me from sweat and the occasional bladder weakness. I started to think about all the times as a woman that underwear fails us.
For the 1 in 3 women with light incontinence and for every menstruating woman, she can recall stories of that embarrassing situation in which her underwear failed to protect her from a leak. Or they have endured years of using inconvenient, uncomfortable, and eco-damaging disposable hygiene to stay protected.
Through our research and information readily available, we found that women can use about 15,000 disposable hygiene items such as lines, tampons, and pads in their lifetime! I wanted to create a whole new product category for women that not only helps them better manage menstrual flow or incontinence but reduces the number of single-use products ending up in landfill and damaging our environment.
Tell us about your business.
Modibodi is fashionable, sustainable, hi-tech, super comfortable underwear (and now swimwear) that totally replaces the need for disposable hygiene. It’s pee, period, and perspiration-proof as well as pregnancy perfect!
We’re breaking taboos, opening minds and offering a reusable, sustainable option that’s not just for women but for the benefit of all bodies on this planet.
Because we believe that making a positive impact should be as easy as changing your undies and swimwear.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Domestic and family violence is the principle cause of homelessness for women and their children in the US and Australia.
There are thousands of women and young girls living in shelters across the US and Australia who have little money and consequently cannot afford to purchase feminine hygiene products that most of us take for granted.
These women and girls are forced to protect themselves from their monthly period and/or bladder weakness with bits of newspaper or bulky rags.
Modibodi’s Give a Pair Program aims to provide these women with Modibodi underwear that is sustainable and reusable to empower these women at the times they most need it.
Every $19 USD equals one “virtual pair” of Modibodi underwear. For every “virtual pair” voucher purchased, Modibodi will donate two pairs of physical underwear to women’s shelters and women in need across Australia, the US, and the UK throughout the year.
Modibodi & Kristy have won numerous product and business awards including:
- 2018 NSW Business Woman of the Year Awards, Finalist (AU)
- 2018 World Retail Awards, Start Up of the Year, Finalist (Global)
- 2018 Remodista Women to Watch honoree (Global)
- 2017 Australian Women’s Weekly, Australian Financial Review Women in Business, Finalist (AU)
- 2017 Telstra Business Woman of the Year Awards, Finalist (AU)
- 2017 Westpac Business of Tomorrow, Finalist (AU)
- 2016 Australian Financial Review Aspire Awards, Finalist (AU)
- 2016 Australian Mother & Baby Magazine Awards, Bronze Medal Winner (AU)
- 2015 Ausmumpreneur Women in Business Awards ‘Product Innovation,’ Winner (AU)
- 2015 Anthill Cool Company Awards, Finalist (AU)
Where is your business based?
Currently, our HQ is based in Australia, but we recently launched in the US through a partnership with Amazon at the end of 2017. We also have a UK-based eCommerce website and distributors in South Africa, Iceland, Singapore, South Korea, and New Zealand.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
It took me about 18 months to develop the product, which involved a lot of investigation and time spent speaking to textile engineers, and conducting scientific tests as well as prototyping. Financial and marketing planning were also part of the process.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business?
A key part of our brand is education, and the best way to raise awareness is to educate your target audience about alternatives is to open dialogue. As an eCommerce-centered business, working with digital media, influencers, bloggers, and vloggers is key to raising awareness of Modibodi and our unique product range.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
While I am driven by a challenge, running a business and growing at the rate we are without extra funds can really stretch your capacity. Throw 3 kids under 9 and a busy husband on top of that, and some days it can be overwhelming.
But what I do know is those times of anguish and fear are there for a reason, and while they are hard, I now understand that I am capable, and it will work itself out.
The biggest challenge in our business is balancing cash flow and projecting inventory to order, because we have 4-month lead times. As we are a growing company, we can grow 100-200% from one month to the next and completely sell out of stock.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Lots of forecasting, time management, as well as support when it comes to family.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Knowing the positive impact Modibodi is making in people’s lives around the globe is amazing and makes it all worth it!
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Modibodi’s patented Modifier Technology is exclusive to our brand, and you won’t find it in any other collection. Our products are also more absorbent and comfortable than other brands on the market.
Fabrics we use include Sports Merino and Organic Bamboo that are breathable, naturally antibacterial, and sustainable products, which means they are also better for the environment and your skin than cotton.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Outsource! Make sure to outsource and delegate work properly.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
I use Google Tasks for what I need to accomplish for the day and Trello for project management.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I am very into listening to podcasts. A few recent ones I like are Mamamia Outloud and Rosie Waterland’s Mum Says My Memoir is a Lie.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am expanding our “Give A Pair Program.” I would love to spread the word.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Our goals are to continue to expand our product line and expand our “Give A Pair Program” in the US and continue to help empower women through Modibodi.
Our goal is not only to build a large, financially profitable business but to create a business that can deliver an affordable, sustainable solution to women in need who are forced to leave school or education because of their lack of access to feminine hygiene products.
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