“Voulez-vous commencer, Haruka? … Haruka?” I swing my head up, now wide-eyed, feeling the warmth of embarrassment bloom onto my cheeks. Merde. Another food coma.
Class is dismissed, and I descend the stairs trying not to think about my public siesta. I push the doors open and an undesirable gush of New England wind hits my face. Lovely. It’s one of those days. With some help from La Roux piping out “Bullet Proof” on my iPod, I make it through the cyclone, barely crossing the finish line at Starbucks. Since the veggie burger from lunch conveniently decides to digest slower than usual, even the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans fails to wake me up. Then suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I spot a girl with brown hair holding a cup of coffee, looking for someone. Not only did she avoid the long queue at the bar, but she had also arrived earlier than her interviewer. Caitlin Conn, marketing coordinator at Sexy Period™ and a psychology concentrator at Brown, is definitely on top of her game. Food comas and down days are not part of her vocabulary.
Conn is responsible for managing all marketing, advertising, and promotional work at her start-up company Sexy Period™, a line of chic, “leak resistant underwear.” The idea was conceived in Danny Warshay’s entrepreneurship class, where Julie Sygiel and Eunice Png (both juniors at the time) faced the task of solving a real life problem—that is, in the form of a business case. Realising that many women feel less confident during their periods, Sygiel and Png developed a business plan for a product that would eliminate that unnecessary stress. Et voilà. Two years later, five hundred pairs of adorable—and breathable—underwear are on sale on a website equally delightful to the eye.
Sexy Period™ welcomes its online customers with a promotional video that “conveys the message of the product and upholds the brand character,” Conn says, with a rather serious look on her face. After all, it was she who decided to use stop motion for the video. “Since we are a start-up, we did what was feasible for us to do. For instance, we could easily make a YouTube channel and post it on our website.”
When I mentioned Madison Avenue’s push from print to digital, she replied, “Definitely,” and paused for a quick sip. “If you have a huge block of text, people won’t be interested. They wouldn’t want to read it. If you watch the video, you’ll see the girl—she changes her outfit.” I go online and watch it again, and it’s true. She (the co-founder and CEO, Sygiel) frolics about in a blue floral print dress, then a black cocktail dress (which I love), followed by a Brown Engineering t-shirt, and ending in a silver sequin dress. I am totally hooked: I watch the video until the end and feel my cursor slowly approaching the “Click SHOP To Get Sexy” tab. I am already a loyal Sexy Period™ customer.
When Conn speaks of “brand character,” she is referring to the friendly, approachable, and charming nature of Sexy Period™. The website is a cool combination of white, pink and grey, and its layout, clean and uncomplicated. There are currently three collections available (Friday Night Fabulous, Blossoming Beauty, and Simply Stunning) in three different cuts: bikini, hipster, and cheeky. “Blossoming Beauty” is in fact a collaboration between Sexy Period™ and Pamela Baron Designs (RISD ’08). This partnership brings customers back to the company’s roots in Providence, RI. Conn points out that production is kept domestic, supporting local manufacturing companies in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. She is also quick to responding to customers’ needs, noting that the company is looking into producing nude-coloured underwear and thongs.
Despite its popularity, incredible press coverage (The Providence Journal and NPR have written stories on them), and sophisticated look of the website, “We had to experiment with the product a bit. The stitching on the underwear was cotton, so we adjusted it by coating the thread,” says Conn. After two years of product development and handing out two hundred prototype pairs to family members and friends for a test run, they were ready to put five hundred pairs of Sexy Period™ panties out on the market.
Although Conn has recently attended StyleWeek Providence, she will continue to promote the brand in a fashion convention in Boston this month. The effort has clearly paid off: there are only fifty pairs left until the next shipment, which will be in late spring. Click here to make AgentProvocateur jealous!