I had the chance to meet the minds behind Negative Underwear recently and was blown away by their story, gorgeous pieces and beautifully grand SoHo loft. Some of their mottos behind their lingerie line are “Cut the crap” and “Challenging the status quo”. This mentality struck a chord in me. “Less fake – more real. Less frills – more fit. Less fabric – more skin.” These words are listed on Negative Underwear’s website. And boy do they deliver. Their collections are luxurious without all the crazy fuss, and their story makes their pieces even better.
Lauren Schwab and Marissa Vosper, the founders of Negative Underwear, met during undergrad at UPenn and quickly bonded over their love for fashion. However, neither felt fashion was an discipline that was accepted at their business-oriented liberal arts college. After completing their degrees, they both went on to work in completely different fields; Marissa started building a career in brand strategy, and Lauren went in to finance and private equity. They felt that something was missing though and experienced what they described as a quarter-life crisis. They began taking night classes at FIT in design and product development while continuing their full time jobs. This is when they saw a need in intimate apparel and decided to find a solution. We’re sure you’ve all seen the blingy, hot pink, pushed out lingerie of today. We’re also sure you’ve seen the very boring basics that leave you yawning. Lauren and Marissa took matters in to their own hands and put the wheels into motion for intimate apparel that would bridge the gap between the two worlds.
Turning an Idea Into a Plan
While still working full time and taking night classes at FIT, these two friends embarked on a new career and business together. Lauren and Marissa were still working full-time at their jobs but were now attending four hour classes twice a week and devoting all of their weekends to their budding business. They spent years creating and designing bras, underwear, thongs and loungewear that would make women feel comfortable but that still had sex appeal. Their willingness to commit to their idea during their off-hours further instilled that the business was something they really wanted to pursue.
Officially Launching Negative Underwear
Four years of late nights and weekends later, Lauren and Marissa left their careers in finance and branding and went full-time with Negative Underwear. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s definitely been worthwhile. “When it launched it was very surreal because we’d been working on it for so long,” they said. They officially launched in February this year and immediately had tons of eyes on their collection, thanks to a piece by the Wall Street Journal. They had 100 orders on the first day alone!
“Every day, we feel like we’re learning something totally new,” Marissa said. “It’s both challenging and invigorating.”
Negative Underwear requires a ton of different hats daily. Marissa’s day varies from driving to Philadelphia for a warehouse shoot to acting as Negative’s publicist to packing each individual order. Meanwhile, Lauren handles their vendor partners, design coordination and interactions with Negative’s production lead in Columbia. “You don’t know what it will be like until you’re actually going through it,” Marissa added.
Words of Advice from Negative Underwear’s Founders
- “You can’t go out to the market and try to be everything to everyone.”
- “If you want to change careers and do something in business, it’s important to have a partner that you really trust, to push you and pull you back when necessary so you can really balance each other out.”
- “Embrace the path that is less traditional.”
What’s Next for Negative Underwear
“There’s a changing definition of what sexy is, and we like to think of it as confidence,” Marissa said. Negative Underwear is working on new product developments and currently has lighter colors and an all-white collection coming. While this amazing intimate apparel line is currently sold exclusively online, their principle of less-is-more is sure to continue garnering attention offline. Negative Underwear is reinventing bras for the better and also simultaneously showing us that pursuing your passions will never be out of style.