Above: Kristy Chong, Founder & CEO, Modibodi
Kristy Chong has done it again. Since Modibodi’s inception, Kristy has progressively introduced new product ranges in response to customer feedback, using her genius to systematically innovate our unmentionables. The founder of the leakproof, period proof, sweat proof apparel brand recently released a new range for men, called MO. Based on Modibodi’s inclusive brand ethos, the MO range includes eco-friendly moisture wicking underwear for men, to manage sweat and incontinence.
We caught up with Kristy to hear how the company has developed over 6 years of continued growth, the lessons she has learned along the way as its founder and CEO, and Modibodi‘s next evolution.
Modibodi is growing rapidly into an international brand. How have you fueled this growth?
An Australian owned company, we sell direct to consumers in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, USA and the EU. We now have over 250,000 customers around the world and have sold over 1.5 million pairs of Australian-designed garments.
We currently have over 25 products across three brands Modibodi, Red by Modibodi and MO. Each time we decide to expand our product ranges or markets, we always look to our loyal customers to see where we can best support them and their needs. This in turn helps fuel new customer growth.
You’ve introduced a number of new product ranges including RED for teens, Activewear, Swimwear and Maternity. What drives your product development process?
Modibodi’s product development has always been about talking with our customers and finding out exactly where they need support the most.
In 2018, we launched our teen range, RED by Modibodi. It was a natural progression for us because mums were already buying Modibodi for their daughters, but we could see that the marketing language could be alienating that younger market. We wanted to create something that could be with young women for the rest of their lives.
Our Activewear and Swimwear ranges were developed to show that Modibodi can support you no matter what you’re doing. Having your period while swimming or working out is uncomfortable, and we found that these industries truly lacked the innovation to create something that would fuse protection with fashion, and our customers needed more support when being active.
In October 2019 we also launched Australia’s first range of leak-proof apparel for men, MO by Modibodi. Identifying a gap in the market for eco-friendly, comfortable moisture-wicking underwear for men, designed to manage daily incontinence and sweat. We’re the only company in Australia that has broadened our potential markets to include men, because we believe everyone deserves to have options when it comes to managing their bodily functions.
What changes have you made to your business as Modibodi has grown?
Modibodi began in late 2013, but it took almost two years of picking, prodding, prototyping, washing, wearing, testing and fine-tuning to develop. We consulted with up to 100 textile engineers and fibre companies (both in the USA and Australia). We conducted close to 1,000 scientific tests. And we worked with leading Australian lingerie designers and manufacturers to create our patented finished product.
We’ve grown and evolved in our marketing strategies. When I launched, I didn’t have a lot of money. We had a small amount of seed funding, we didn’t get capital to launch the business, so I used my PR and marketing background to help – I was writing to journalists and influencers and pitching stories – that way, my time was about how we generated marketing and brand awareness.
Once we got Modibodi off the ground, having the right staffing behind me became so important; I needed to have the right people to live and breathe the Modibodi brand. We now have 20 employees and this year moved out of my home office into a brand new office in Balmain. Each of my staff is amazing at what they do, and I am so lucky.
We also really wanted to ensure that we had a social impact side to our business, where a percentage of our profits go to women in need. We’re providing a low-cost, sustainable solution in different markets and we’re exploring that now. We’re working with South Africa and Uganda to trial and see how that might work on a larger scale.
In Australia, we have the Give a Pair program, where we deliver the product into women’s shelters, where they’re victims of domestic violence and often can’t afford feminine hygiene. This way, they have a solution when they’re going through those times of hardship and trouble.
What tips can you share from your recent investment round with other women led businesses currently seeking investment?
It’s essential to put yourself out there, and you need to be comfortable with being rejected and trying again. Investors will be attracted to your brand if you have an innovative idea, proven sales and a scalable ecommerce platform.
Modibodi supports a range of causes focused on the empowerment of girls and women. Share some that are close to your heart.
One of the Modibodi’s core pillars is empowerment, empowering women no matter their socio-economic status, religion, issues or where in the world they live. Modibodi actively supports causes and organisations that champion the empowerment of women including Share the Dignity, Days for Girls and Endometriosis Australia to name a select few.
Knowing what you do now about Modibodi’s journey, what advice would you give to yourself as a brand new Founder?
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You are like a rubber band. You’ll definitely feel stretched, but you won’t break. You will bounce back.