Carrie Munson, Founder and CEO of UnderSummers, talks to us about specialty under garments.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Welcome back to the show Texas Business Radio, texasbusinessradio.com is the website. 844-814-8144 is our 24 hour call-in line. It means, call in now, call in the middle of the night, I don’t really care. We’ll get the experts on here to get those questions answered. I’m your host Matt Register, Jay Curry had to step out for a minute. He’s going to join us again here in a minute.
We’re going to talk about underwear, which is not really what I was expecting this morning when I came into the studio, but we’re going to talk about underwear. We have a very fascinating story about a company that got started in the Houston area that really solves a problem that a lot of women have.
Carrie Rae Munson is the Owner, CEO, Proprietor of Undersummers, undersummers.com being the website. Carrie, welcome to the show.
Carrie Munson: Thank you.
Matt Register: So talk to me a little bit about Undersummers. What do you do? Who do you do it to?
Carrie Munson: Undersummers was created to combat the problem of thigh chafing. It’s a really not sexy problem that women have when they wear skirts and dresses. It’s that uncomfortable chafing that happens when our thighs rub together. And it’s a problem that a lot women have. I had it, and I couldn’t find a solution that was comfortable and cute.
Matt Register: So you made it.
Carrie Munson: So I made one.
Matt Register: Well, talk to me a little bit about. If you go to the website, undersummers.com, you’re going to see what appears to be, to the untrained eye, right? Some very fancy lace filled bike shorts, right? For lack of a better word. Talk to me a little bit about why you built it that way, what it is, and how that solves a problem of chafing.
Carrie Munson: So the shortlette was designed a bike short or shapewear or there’s other kind of solutions on the market that are not specifically for thigh chafing. But there are things that women do to stop, to try to prevent the thigh chafing. Like you said, a bike short. That’s the traditional way. A bike short is not cute, and it’s not really all that functional either, because a lot of times it’s cut in a way that it rides up when we walk. It also has a seam in between the thigh, so that causes additional friction, and it can cause weakness and break. Then you’ve got the problem again.
Shapewear is a solution that is not … It’s tight, and it’s uncomfortable, and it’s hot. And I absolutely despise shapewear. I am not a shapewear girl.
I wanted something that was really comfortable, that would stay put when I walked because a lot of shorts don’t. Especially shapewear, it rolls up. And bike shorts are often, they ride up too.
I wanted something that would stay put, had no seam in between the thigh, and ultimately I wanted it to be really cute. I didn’t want it to be boring. I wanted it to look feminine.
Matt Register: So, you made a couple of these things for yourself, right?
Carrie Munson: Mm-hmm (affirmative) I made a lot of them.
Matt Register: You made them. In your house, with your sewing machine, you started making these things. And that kind of snowballed into some … Tell me a little bit about the path to going from, “Okay, I’ve identified a problem, I’ve identified that I can make a solution for it.” And now all of a sudden you have this major company that distributes all over the world. Walk me through that process a little bit.
Carrie Munson: I was working as a speech pathologist for Humble ISD when I decided I wanted … And I’m from Minnesota, so the Houston heat is just unbearable. I wanted something that was cooler to wear when I was working. And I’m on the floor with young kids, and I just wanted something that would …
Matt Register: Work in the heat, right?
Carrie Munson: It would work in the heat, but also when it would show, it wasn’t so … it wasn’t obvious what it was. I had some friends who were also teachers, and they would wear … They wanted them too, so they wore some of my products, and they would literally fall apart because I didn’t know what I was doing when I was sewing. I was learning from YouTube how to sew. And, it took me about six months of trial and error, and sending them off to my friends, and eventually I got a design that fit really, really well. And it stayed together, and it functioned beautifully. Next thing I knew, other teachers wanted them. Literally, it was the next thing I knew was a business. In about three years I stopped working in the schools, and I started focusing on Undersummers full time. Now we’re in a commercial space, it’s out of my house, I’m no longer sewing them. They’re manufactured in Los Angeles, and … Yeah.
Matt Register: Well, God bless America. Finding a need, realizing that you have a better solution. You can do it better. Doing it and then following that all the way through to commercial success is remarkable. In the underwear industry or any other, right? That’s what the American dream is all about. God bless you for being able to do that. You primarily sell these things on your website, correct?
Carrie Munson: That’s correct.
Matt Register: What other channels do you distribute these things?
Carrie Munson: I sell primarily on undersummers.com, I also sell on amazon.com, and I have some small boutique retailers that have approached me, and they also sell them. I also have some in some other countries as well.
Matt Register: Interesting. And, these things being manufactured in Los Angeles. You got out of the manufacturing business. You’re in the design business, you’re in the marketing business, you’re in the distribution business, right?
Carrie Munson: That’s right. Thank goodness I’m out of the manufacturing business.
Matt Register: Yes. If somebody … What are some of the lines that you have? Because you have several different kinds, right? Talk to me a little bit about some of the differences in the lines.
Carrie Munson: Okay. My lace shortlette, the original lace shortlette it was our first shortlette that I designed. It has a wide waistband, a wide lace waistband, and lace on the leg. Really, like I said before, I designed it to be as pretty and functional as I could. It takes a lot of lace to make that product. We did not skimp in any way on fabric or the trims. That’s our higher end product. We also … Customers requested other things from us. That’s where all of the different …
Matt Register: All of the different designs, right?
Carrie Munson: Designs came from. We made a shorter version, that’s the high thigh. It’s just like the lace shortlette, it’s just a little bit shorter. Then, they wanted something simpler, so the classic has a narrow waistband, it’s a little shorter, there’s no lace on it. Then, just recently, customers said, “We want a higher lace, we want a longer leg. Maximum coverage.” So, our fusion is a combination of the lace and the classic.
Matt Register: Interesting. Absolutely interesting. Go ahead and fix your headset there.
Carrie Munson: Thank you.
Matt Register: This is something that is not easy to do. But if a lot of people attempt to get this product out into the market using big retailers, a lot of people attempt to do it. That is very hard to do with some of the margin that gets crunched out of your business. Talk to me about your opinion on some of the big retailers. Because you’ve talked to a lot of them, right?
Carrie Munson: Mm-hmm (affirmative) I have talked to some. When I first got in this business, I literally knew nothing about business. I have never worked in retail. I went to school to be a speech pathologist, and that’s what I did for 15 years. I had gotten lots of advice that I needed to do wholesale, do not sale direct to consumer, and go for the big accounts, and it was hard. It was not easy. I am … The small boutiques cater to the smaller woman. They don’t cater to the average size 16 woman in the US.
Matt Register: Interesting.
Carrie Munson: That really wasn’t my customer. My customer is the average size woman. It’s a small to a 5X. It’s every woman. But, definitely that large, extra large, 2X is my customer.
Matt Register: Interesting. Absolutely. And these are reasonably priced too. We’re talking $25.00, $30.00 gets you into some of this. CarrieRae Munson is the CEO of Undersummers, undersummers.com. Thank you very much for joining us.
Carrie Munson: Thank you.
Matt Register: Unfortunately we are out of time. Undersummers.com. We’re going to have it linked right there from texasbusinessradio.com if you’re driving and can’t take notes, I got it, go to texasbusinessradio.com. If you have a problem with thigh chafing, and you’re a woman, undersummers.com has the solution for you. Very, very interesting story. We do have to go pay a couple of our own bills right now though, unfortunately. We’re going to be back. You don’t even really have time to go anywhere. Go ahead and get your calls in. 844-814-8144 to our 24 hour call in line, and we’ll be back right after this. Don’t go anywhere.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.