Crystal Etienne, an African-American businesswoman, founder and CEO of PantyProp, is a self-confessed perfectionist when it comes to designing her product line of tampon alternative leak-proof underwear and swimwear. It’s definitely the reason why her customers love the brand making her startup business grow to seven figures!
Crystal, a mother of two kids, understands the frustration of having to deal with uncomfortable and embarrassing menstrual leaks. She herself experienced unexpected leaks after giving birth in her twenties.
Turning a personal problem into a profitable business
“I also had trouble using tampons,” Crystal shares. “They made me feel lightheaded, which is a sign that there was something wrong.”
After searching Google for her own dilemma, she found out that a lot of women also have the same issue with tampons due to cultural restriction, age, health condition and special needs. That’s when she realized she needs to do something.
“We need more options in feminine hygiene and personal care. This is a public health issue. We need to educate our daughters and ourselves on proper self-care and the risks associated with sticking something ‘up there,'” Etienne says. “I created PantyProp to bridge that gap between health, hygiene and comfort.”
Expanding her offerings
It started out as just underwear, but now PantyProp also sells activewear, swimwear and sleepwear. They have products specifically for teens, women, as well as men. It is made from organic cotton and has a patent-pending technology that really stops leaks.
“Our proprietary leak-proof gusset is one-of-a-kind. It angles correctly under the body cavity to collect flow onset. The leak-proof component is 100% all-natural without any chemicals, plastics or PUL that may cause odor or a build-up of moisture that can in turn cause yeast or bacterial infections,” Crystal explains.
Her innovative product has really proven to be successful. However, being an African American woman is one of the challenges she faced before and up until now. Upon starting her venture, she struggled to find funds but eventually got $35,000 after bootstrapping the company herself.
“I was determined. I started observing what other companies were doing well, and their weak points. I became their customer, trying out the user experience. I became so passionate that I installed 24/7 customer service into PantyProp and stayed up until 3am answering questions personally from people all over the world.”
After one year since she started, the company earned six digits. Despite that, some investors are still doubtful. “It was then that I realized discrimination in venture capital is real.”
“I am still looking for investors who believe in my vision. PantyProp is almost at $2 million in annual revenue, and investors are still skeptical! I’m on a mission to prove that women-of-color-founded startups are a great investment,” Crystal continues.
Behind that success is still a hands-on person that chooses the fabric herself and gets involved in the production. Now available in over 195 countries, she plans for further expansion for the revolutionary product.
For more details about PantyProp or to order online, visit www.pantyprop.com