‘An underwear upgrade’: Toronto lingerie line Knix Wear gets unexpected crowdfunding boost

Financial Post by Hollie Shaw | July 8, 2013

knix 300x221 - ‘An underwear upgrade’: Toronto lingerie line Knix Wear gets unexpected crowdfunding boostCrowdfunding is building a reputation for financing enterprises and products that don’t fit into an easy niche.

And Knix Wear founder Joanna Griffiths got an unexpected publicity boost when she launched a fundraising drive for her high-tech lingerie line on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo — it happened as the site was hosting Gawker’s notorious money-raising drive to buy an alleged video of Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack.

“For us, it helped” promote the line of absorbent and scent-resistant underwear catering to women who exercise heavily or experience light incontinence, Ms. Griffiths said, chuckling. “When I met with the buyers at Hudson’s Bay, they knew about Indiegogo because of the Rob Ford video campaign. I believe if it had been two weeks earlier, it would have been a much harder thing to position because it just was not on people’s radar to the same extent as it was following that [Crackstarter] campaign in May.”

Hudson’s Bay, which will carry the line in 18 of its 90 stores, became Knix Wear’s first retail customer — the first time a retailer has placed a preorder through a crowdfunding campaign site.

When she created Knix Wear, Ms. Griffiths looked to the success of now-billionaire Sarah Blakely, the young entrepreneur who founded Spanx, the popular slimming undergarment, in 2000.

Like Ms. Blakely, Ms. Griffiths identified a void in the market for her product, which she began envisioning after a talk with her mother, a doctor, about the light incontinence that one in three experience in their lives, particularly after childbirth and with the onset of menopause.

“I had seen all of these panty-liners and pads in the drugstore aisles, and I thought there had to be a better solution,” said the Toronto-based entrepreneur, who studied business and worked in entertainment and promotion before she began developing Knix Wear. She interviewed hundreds of women and gynecologists while she researched her business idea.

“It is the secret nobody talks about. There is a whole side of the market that is not being addressed. Most products only cater to the aging demographic and through research I discovered many younger women were very vocally discussing their dissatisfaction with existing products. We wanted to make an underwear upgrade — something beautiful and discreet — compared to what is on the market.”

Knix Wear products feature a one-way wicking cotton that wicks moisture into an absorbent layer and it has a leak resistant membrane on the bottom. Threads of silver, a natural anti-microbial odour-buster used by Lululemon in its Silverescent line of its garments, are woven through the fabric.

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