Meet Our Friends: Lauren & Marissa
Negative Underwear is a new NYC-based underwear brand designed around the concept of ‘less is more’ – removing the unnecessary components that typically make bras and underwear uncomfortable, impractical or expensive to instead create high quality underwear that elevates the everyday, and merges comfort and cool at an accessible price. The founders, Lauren and Marissa met as Freshman in college and became fast friends through their shared obsession for fashion and style. We sat down with the dynamic duo for an intimate conversation about their intimate apparel line:
Freehand: What brought you to Freehand Chicago?
Negative Underwear: As an eCommerce business, our core focus is naturally online, but we certainly see the value of offline events, especially as a lingerie brand with a product that’s very intimate + tactile. We started with our NYC network, hosting private trunk show events among small groups of women in the city. As we saw the success of these gatherings, we started looking to other markets where we had strong networks of friends, family, customers, partners and fans.
In the past year, we’ve been to LA, Dallas, Miami and Montauk. Most recently we took Negative to Chicago – in partnership with the recently opened Freehand Chicago hotel. We used the Freehand’s brand new penthouse suite to host an intimate event for the tastemakers of Chicago… spiked punch, polaroids and lingerie definitely made for a night to remember.
FH: What inspired you to start Negative Underwear?
NU:We met as freshman in college at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduation, we both moved to New York City to begin careers — Lauren in finance, Marissa in branding. The thing is, we’ve always loved fashion, our mutual creative outlet. About four years ago, we were progressing in our career paths but had a nagging sense that something was missing. We decided to take night classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC for fun, to see what would come of it.
When we started exploring the world of fashion from a business-opportunity perspective, we saw a white space in intimates — a rather limited category lacking in new entrants, largely supplied, owned, and operated by men (or men-run businesses), without a lot of brands we could identify as beloved by their customers. We saw a clear need to create something new and different.
FH: Who is your biggest inspiration?
NU: Hmm, it’s hard to say that there’s a specific “who” – it’s more about being inspired by women as a whole – and about building something for women, by women in a category that seemed more traditionally informed by a male perspective.
In starting Negative, we were and are inspired to solve real problems – and to make women feel amazing while doing it. So many women–customers and non-customers alike–tell us how dissatisfied they are with their current underwear options and how they don’t know where to go to find an alternative. We don’t want to add clutter to an already crowded fashion category for the sake of aesthetics; we want to build something fundamentally better than what’s out there today.
FH: What is your favorite memory of a Negative Underwear event?
NU: It’s a pretty surreal feeling when people show up to an event and have a total fan girl (or guy) moment. It’s still crazy to think of Negative as anything beyond our little baby project, so when we see the effect it’s having out in the world – the fact that people are reading about us, following us, supporting us, talking about us… that always brings on the goosebumps.
At the Freehand, we actually had the sweetest guy show up solo (his wife was out of town and sent him in her place to shop!) – he’d done all his research, knew our story – he even knew who was Lauren and who was Marissa. He ended up buying a handful of gifts for his wife because he knew she’d love the line. Moments like that make all the hard work worthwhile.
FH: What’s next for Negative Underwear?
NU: We always say – we’re building an underwear empire, no question about it!
We have big ambitions for our brand – we’re currently focused on growth: growing our customers, our fans, our team and our collection. It’s the most exciting time of a business – you work so hard, but there’s so much reward. Care to stay tuned? Insta is the best spot for the latest news – @negativeunderwear
FH: What do you love most about traveling?
NU: Travel is just the best way to be inspired – there’s something both challenging and gratifying about taking yourself out of your comfort zone, learning something new and experiencing how other people/cultures live. Travel reminds you to be open – that the way you know is most certainly not the only way. It’s such a helpful perspective.
FH: What are 3 travel essentials you never leave home without?
1. Laptop/phone – when you run your own biz, you have to stay connected, no matter how far away you are – or how bad the wifi…
2. Headphones – whether for music or meditation, zoning out or bumping up… having the right soundtrack for the right moment can make all the difference.
3. And good underwear, of course!