Many times, your experiences motivate you. For Nancy Trangmar and Meghan Marsden, Co-Founders of Veil Intimates, the big point was when they were trying to buy a beautiful, supportive bra but couldn’t find any that fit well. One discussion after another and one search after another for high-end but comfortable intimate apparel led them to create Veil Intimates. Veil Intimates is an apparel technology company where they’ve designed and patented technology that will revolutionize the women’s apparel industry. The heart of their product is the process and the design. Their approach is to change the marketplace, and they ultimately hope to work with existing brands not only in the traditional foundation arena, but also active wear to change the support structure for women.
Thank you for having us.
This is an inaugural where I have two guests at one time. You guys are going to be fascinated by what these two have embarked on. If you would, tell us a little bit about your business and who you serve.
Veil Intimates, we are an apparel technology company. We’ve design and patent revolutionary technology that is going to change women’s apparel. Meghan and I were shopping and trying to find a supportive bra that didn’t use an underwire for support and we were dumbfounded when we couldn’t find it existing in the market already. So, it motivated us to search out for possibilities, and here we are today.
You were motivated. I’m thinking of the quantity of times that you’ve been shopping for undergarments, a bra, whatever and this one was the tipping point. Tell me a little bit about when you had been disappointed and you left wherever you were and the conversation you guys had going on that spurred you to action? It’s amazing how many times you can experience something and it not motivate you but for some reason this was the tipping point. For us, we were at a really amazing boutique located in Cherry Creek in Denver that’s known for the most beautiful, high-end apparel and intimates. It was their sidewalk sale, so we’re buying really nice things at a discount. But even then we went to Starbucks, we we’re talking about it and this is the best fitting piece of apparel place that you could buy this piece of apparel in Colorado. We’re sitting and looking at each other, how can we spend that much money and still be this dissatisfied?
Maybe it just means that we need to look into the market and how our bras are made. Is there a way to do it better? Why does it have to be this way, and just started investigating, and that’s really what it was. There wasn’t one particular thing that really pushed us over the edge besides being together and both feeling the same way, and then having the conversation with other women. It was a continued echo of mentality that I guess this is just as good as it’s going to get and accepting this piece of apparel that you have to wear everyday is just not going to be comfortable. It is what it is. That wasn’t good enough for us.
I think about it in the morning, getting ready to go and do whatever you’re going to do and you go, “I have to put that device on again.” You already have some degree of rancor with that garment. You were explaining the history, the background from here. This is old technology as it exists today, the technology that you’re trying to interrupt, whalebones, corsets and the wire was brought on board when?
It was patented in the ‘30s.
The only innovation was making it to a plastic as opposed to the wire. Now, when it pokes you it doesn’t poke quite as stabbing as it used to.
Well isn’t that nice!
I’m thinking about the genesis of you guys, that you’d left the shopping, you’ve gone to Starbucks. You have a history in business. Both of you guys have been entrepreneurs. What is some of your background?
This is Meghan. I worked in management consulting for a number of years predominantly in healthcare and finance. I started my first business when I was 26 in real estate flipping houses and getting into the real estate market. From there, I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and I started multiple companies in various industries, no two alike. And looking at everything as a problem-solving challenge and really enjoying being a servant leader and building up teams, and also, just creating a really great customer service experience for some for my businesses.
This business became part of my heart when we started down the path and could really see the consumers’ drive and need for it. Seeing women light up when you talk about changing something they hate so much really became a driving force for me, as I continued to move forward with Veil. Nancy and I have known each other for quite some time, both working as a client-relationship, and also as business partners, being employed by a corporation together and working alongside each other, and then ultimately friends.
Veil Intimates: Our approach to the marketplace is to change the marketplace.
I think about you coming out and you’ve got this thought, so then you started doing some research. Maybe what would be helpful is to describe, if you can, the underlying process that you’ve patented. What’s this all about?
Part of our process that we patented essentially, what happens today when a bra is made, a bra cup is made specifically of two pieces of foam that are fused together. From there, a channel is put on and this underwire is slipped into that channel to create the support structure. So regardless of size, underwires really change in support by a few centimeters, and that’s about it. What we decided to do was create 3D print, create the support system with various shapes and thicknesses throughout, and then integrate that into the cups. So, what that means is pressing that piece of support structure between two pieces of foam that then form the cup. What we found is by having support through the whole cup, it changed the stress and strain that a woman experienced and felt on her body. That’s when we knew we had something. It’s the process and the design.
You showed me an example of a cup. It looks like a piece of foam, shaped. You held it up to a light and for lack of a better term, it looks like a rather large spider web between the two foam pieces. We were talking about in construction if you’re an A cup or D cup, basically the support system really doesn’t change. It’s like having a two-ton crane and a four-ton crane built the same way. You go, that’s kind of stupid, frankly. For you guys, you have a particular approach to the marketplace. You are not trying to come out with your own brand per se. What’s your approach to the marketplace?
So our approach to the market place is to change the marketplace. Our strategy is to license our technology. We have patents that we’ve received and patents that are pending that create an aggregate IP company. Ultimately our hopes are to work with existing brands, not only in the traditional foundation arena but also active wear, swimwear, and evening wear to change the support structure for women. Ideally we’d be working with large brands like Spanx and Chantelle, Victoria’s Secret who already have a large share of the market. Our goal isn’t to build this big brand for ourselves, but to truly change the underlying process and strategy of how women are supported in their apparel.
IP, Intellectual Property Company. You license your technology and then they bring it on board with what they’re doing.
Then the questions for folks thinking about process. You have all this testing phase and design phase and so on. Then at some point, you arrive at a design. What did you guys do to make sure your design….what steps did you take to protect the effort and intellect that went into your process?
Part of what we worked on and thought through and what we were mindful of is in our initial investigation phases, being somewhat quite about what we were doing until we had a grasp of what was happening, and then reaching out to a law firm and started to have renderings and draw up what we were thinking, and then iteration after iteration…I think the reason Nancy and I were laughing is because part of our process was a bit of like first grade artwork. We had printed, like you said, that spider web out and we were trying to figure out how to press it in the cup successfully. It was so much so to the point we were at our manufacturer in LA and we had scissors and we were cutting out different shapes. It was completely nonscientific. It was just a trial and error prototype. We grew up into being scientific, utilizing engineering software that’s used similarly in aerospace and automotive today, but our initial prototyping was a really first grade artwork. Where we had scissors in this large manufacturing plant that presses bras, cutting out different shapes in our spider web 3D printed form. That was our initial learnings if you will, and how we got to prototype. We reversed into putting what we thought would work into engineering simulation, and happily found that what we had come up with just our minds and our gut validated in engineering simulation.
You are end users, and so you look at that and you go, “At some point, you go, I’ve been around this thing for a while, then you looked at the ones you’ve had and deconstructed the ones that you already had. Not surprising, you had an already intimate relationship with the existing technology.
Did you have a 3D printer at your house or are you outsourcing 3D printing?
We cold called 3D printing companies. We start to here in Denver. We had no idea. The first gentleman I got on the phone, Justin, we still work with him directly today. I had a conversation with him about would they be able to help us and could they print garments? He said, “We should probably have a meeting. I’ve got to warn you, my entire engineering staff are men. It’s a little bit foreign to them, but if you would come down with your business partner, we would like to talk further and see if we can help you.” That meeting was really interesting. They did not truly understand the concept until we showed them a bra, which yes, that bra….I left the meeting, came back and presented it to them. Yes, that happened
They needed a visual aid. They truly had no idea what we were talking about and it truly made a difference in the conversation, but in hindsight we laugh about it a lot. In that meeting, it had to be, in order for them to understand what we were talking about. We came back, we talked through it and they said, “Give us a little bit of time, a few weeks, and let us try and figure this out. We might be in touch with some questions.” They came back to us with what we had asked them for and we adjusted some of the thicknesses. We adjusted the shape a little bit, but it was our first prototype. We took that to our pad manufacturer and then, like Meghan said, it was art class with scissors on the manufacturing floor, making design changes based on our intuition.
I think about aerospace if you said design a nose cone for a space shuttle, they be all over a nose cone on a space shuttle. Other than size, it’s not really much different; it’s a conical event. So for you guys, you are thinking about the various designs whether it’s a full -coverage and whether it’s the part-coverage and all the choices. Will the support system that you guys design, will it fit various different styles or is it going to be pretty much specific?
It’ll fit varying styles. Our goal is to work with brands in their flagship shapes and styles that they like for their line that already exist and integrate that support system into their existing styles and patterns. It’s allowing for variance depending on the shape and style. So, not changing the aesthetic of a brand, but really integrating that support structure into the existing style.
From experience, we have understood that it's a real challenge to find something that works.
You have had multiple discussions with manufacturers, as I understand it. What are the things that you’re typically hearing from the manufacturers?
They are dumbstruck. They are shocked that we have been able to get this far on our own and are very interested in where we’re going. Hopefully one of those, within the next few months, will be an exclusive deal. But, ideally we would like this to be available to all women.
How we met and how you got on the podcast is a previous guest that had breast cancer and was talking about the challenges in the asymmetry issues and others with support garments. You are going to be involved in that world too?
Our heart really lies with a woman who has experienced mastectomy, reconstruction or augmentation. From experience, have understood that it’s a real challenge to find something that works. Most women who experienced the surgery can’t wear underwires at all. They’re seeking something beautiful after an emotional experience and aren’t finding it. Part of our third-horizon strategy is to really to create customized prosthetic, out of a really lightweight product that we’re working on currently with the few higher-ed institutions, and also the integration of sensor technology.
There are amazing higher-ed institutions that are working on sensor technology, not only for reactive-care but proactive-care, predominantly in breast cancer. Infrared technology that would be integrated into your apparel that you didn’t even know was there, that would help track and understand if there is growth or cell production that would not be healthy cells, as well as heart-disease tracking. There is a wonderful organization out of MIT that’s doing a heart disease tracking, which is the number one killer for women.
The experience of a heart attack with women is much, much different than in men.
Really working to build innovation in that too. Not only have application for comfort and aesthetics, but have a true application around things that are close to our hearts and that we care about, and the medical community in being really proactive to that, and building a line that works for women who experienced those surgeries that satisfies their need and still makes them feel beautiful, after everything they had gone through emotionally. That’s really our heart…is in that.
Wasn’t there a discussion about some of the professional emergency folks that you guys had mentioned that you were interacting with fire departments and so on?
There’s already technology that is monitoring health information for firefighters, EMT, and military applications. The biggest challenge is those applications are typically for the male community, so they’re integrated into something that would be a base layer. The problem with base layers and sensors is that there’s a bra in the way for women. If those sensors aren’t integrated into the apparel that’s closest to them, the sensor technology doesn’t work. If a female firefighter is wearing a sports bra with a sensor technology in her base layer, it’s not going to read correctly because there’s a piece of apparel between her and that technology. Our hope is to work with those communities to really deliver something special for the women who serve us in that way. It would be very exciting to work with that community.
You guys had a recent event that has to do with FIT, Fashion Institute of Technology. Tell us a little bit about what’s going with them and you guys?
I have to give Nancy kudos, because part of the reason we’ve been so successful is because of a lack of fear in contacting people we have no connection to, but realizing that we have a value proposition that’s very interesting. Nancy called FIT almost a year ago and said to them, “Hi. I’m Nancy from Veil Intimates. You’ve probably never heard of me, but I really like to talk to you and we we’d like to talk about a research partnership.” We got fifteen minutes of time. So we flew out to New York for fifteen minutes of time to meet with FIT.
This amazing woman, whom now we are very close with and adore, was going to give us fifteen minutes of her time. The next thing we know, an hour and fifteen minutes later, we’ve gotten their attention. FIT is very interested in innovation. They’re very focused on growing in that space. There is a lot of innovation to occur in apparel still. They are leading the way. Through a number of months to see how we develop relationship, research and development, came to the conclusion that we could.
Currently, are working with FIT and some professors to not only assess the fit and comfort of our piece of apparel and how it would be integrated easily to manufacturing processes, but a comfort study. Having multiple people try a piece of apparel, give us feedback and make adjustments. From that, we’ll be working with, we’ll have a tech pack to essentially to go into the marketplace, work with existing brands to say, “This is what we found from our study from a hundred people wearing our product. This is the feedback they gave. This is how we changed it and redid the comfort study, and we are just at the beginning of that. It’s been a really fun process, truly not knowing or ever creating a partnership with higher-ed. It was our first time, both of us in an entrepreneurial setting to do that, and it’s been really lovely. They’ve been very good to us, and we’re very excited to be working with them.
So I need to know, if you knew you had fifteen minutes, what were you going to lead with?
I don’t think we thought that far ahead!
I think we felt that if we could get in the door, we’d have more than fifteen minutes. Because, we knew the product that we were presenting to them and what we were asking them to do will revolutionize women’s apparel in four categories that has had no innovation in decades.
That is amazing.
FIT is the Harvard of fashion. Where some of the other big names are more the couture and the editorial designing, but FIT is on the forefront of what’s happening in fashion and they were very attentive to our conversation. They have actually given us some of our best referrals for networking. One of our advisors is directly from a referral that this woman gave us, and she’s been invaluable to us.
We’re very thankful.
When you went in, did she have the same resonance with the underwire problem that you guys brought up?
Yes, of course!
The funny thing is she started in school in intimate apparel and foundations and realized how hard it is, and she changed her direction of her major. She understands whole-heartedly what we’re trying to do and how this will affect women’s apparel.
Part of that is because; oddly the cup manufacturer and the underwire manufacturer aren’t the same people....