Top 7 Q&A with our Founders - 10th Anniversary
We sat down with our founders Fran and Naomi to reflect on the last 10 years with TomboyX. We talk sustainability, advice for LGBTQ+ and/or women entrepreneurs, and send out a big thank you to all our past and current customers and supporters.
1. What has been the most memorable customer moment?
Fran: My all time favorite was this lovely human and their amazing family from Cheyenne Wyoming. The family was taking a vacation to the northwest and Zoey, a twelve year old, insisted that they stop in Seattle, specifically to visit TomboyX. I think Zoey thought we had a storefront, but in reality we were in the back office space of the Seattle Storm. A couple of long work tables and maybe 10 rows of shelving, as we were still doing our own fulfillment at the time. We get an email from Zoey’s mom and of course invite them to stop by. We were in the middle of a huge brand transition and had a lot of excess clothing. We quickly put $1 price tags on stuff and Zoey walked in and shopped their heart out. They kept coming up to me and Naomi and hugging us, thanking us for building a company for them. The whole team was in tears. They loaded up with shoes, jeans, socks and of course, underwear! They headed back to Wyoming and Zoey joined the boys ice hockey team.
2. Was there anything that triggered your push to make the brand sustainable?
Naomi: From the beginning Fran and I promised each other that if we were going to create a business that reflected our values.. We were both in purpose driven careers prior to TomboyX and so making sure we were a positive force in the world was non-negotiable. From day one that we had employees we offered full health insurance and stock options. We worked with female owned and led factories, we sourced Oeko-Tek fabrics and we went up to size 4X in everything for the same price to our customers, something no one else was doing at the time. As we grew it made sense to codify our values and become B Corp Certified. Today we work with factories around the world that meet or exceed international standards for sustainable production, we offer products in 3XS-6X, our C-Suite is 75% female and we provide a safe space for our customers to feel comfortable in their own skin via the innovative products we design and manufacture.
3. How have you seen the TomboyX community change in the last decade?
Fran: We have seen so much change in ten years. We were the first company to offer gender neutral styles and language. We were the first brand to feature openly trans models, we worked with plus size models from day one and we included community in our decision making. We listened to our customers and they have never led us astray. Ten years ago non-binary wasn’t in our vernacular, but we embraced the changes as they happened and are proud to have been on the front lines of challenging brands and branding that were selling sexy from a male gaze. Confidence, beauty and comfort comes from within.
4. What do you predict for the next 10 years?
Fran: Sadly, I think there is still so much work to do as politicians and organizations continue to foster hatred and fear toward the LGBTQ+ community. The systemic targeting of the trans community is shocking and terrifying, so we have to continue to do all we can to protect the community. I’m in awe of the changes, good and bad, of the past 10 years so am certain I will be saying the same thing ten years from now.
5. What advice do you have for other LGBTQ and/or women entrepreneurs?
Fran: Own your truth and don’t be afraid to share it.
Naomi: Surround yourself with people who know the business you want to grow in and hire for your weaknesses.
6. What would you like to say to the folks who supported the original kickstarter?
Naomi: Thanks for believing in us from the start, for seeing the vision we had and for helping us understand that we had something important to share with the world. We wouldn’t be here without you.
Fran: The Kickstarter campaign was grueling! We almost quit after a week. I lost 10 pounds and slept four hours a night. Fretting, worrying, wondering if we’d make it. We were within a few days of the ending and we still were short like $5000. Then we started hearing from people who told us they would be there to top us off if need be. People were reaching out to all of their friends and family, urging them to help. The last two days we started getting more and more pledges and in the end we passed our goal of $75,000 and we knew we had started a company. Without that support and encouragement, we wouldn’t be here today.
7. What would you like to say to all the people who proudly wear TomboyX?
Naomi: It gives us all such great delight to see you proudly sporting TomboyX gear. We design and make every piece with care to your comfort, fit and joy. We hope you feel like today, you can do anything and above all, that you matter because we made this for you.
Fran: Thank you for your support and patronage. We built this company for people like you because we felt the need for representation. To see you representing TomboyX makes us so proud and grateful. Thank you.