Member Spotlight: Canadian-Owned Brand Tush Skivvies is Redefining Underwear

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Tush Skivvies

From print design

to manufacturing

to e-commerce

to promoting safe sex

Canadian-owned brand Tush Skivvies is redefining underwear.

amelie

A self-made woman, Amelie has garnered a wealth of knowledge in not only the fashion industry, but also in setting up and running a successful business in China.

Northern Ontario native Amelie Mongrain first came to China in 1995 as the Fashion Design Program Director of LASALLE International Design College. Her career has since boomed alongside the Chinese economy as the product development manager of an Italian menswear company, and then as the co-owner of DSM Research, now Zanetti.

Although Amelie continues to manage the Zanetti Shanghai office, she recently sold her shares to launch her very own underwear brand: Tush Skivvies.

“I wanted to start a business that I could manage and be involved in every aspect from A to Z.”

Q. Where did the idea for Tush Skivvies come from?

A. I wanted to start my own business focused on a single item of clothing. I knew that any full garment collection would be too complicated to handle on my own. I had my “aha” moment when I realized I have always loved underwear and it was something I could continue managing from Canada if I ever decided to return.

02 Q. You are involved in every aspect of the business, but do you have employees or partners?

A. While Tush Skivvies isn’t exactly a family business, I would say that it is family-oriented. We have a small team that includes my niece Karine who is in charge of social media and marketing, as well as Pascale, previously my son’s tutor and a Textile Chemist, but now working on product development at Tush. I want to continue nurturing this kind of family-oriented company culture.

“What was interesting about Kickstarter is that it could help us look for funding, but also allow us to speak directly to consumers interested in our products and build a database of contacts.”

Q. Although Tush Skivvies has been approached by big investors, you recently launched your Kickstarter campaign to seek funding for your first collection. Why did you choose Kickstarter?

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Karine, Amelie and Pascale

A. My goal isn’t to get Tush Skivvies bought by a larger company. Before sitting down with big investors, I want to lay down solid

financial and structural bases. What was interesting about Kickstarter is that it could help us look for funding, but also allow us to speak directly to consumers interested in our products and build a database of contacts. Even if we don’t reach our funding target, we will have gained a lot in marketing. But we surely will do our outmost best to get our target!

Q. Tush Skivvies is being designed and manufactured in China. But where and to who will you sell the underwear?

A. I hope to attack different markets. We will mainly focus on e-commerce and use distribution channels in department stores. That said, we will also be on other platforms in the US and China, such as Tmall.

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The “Geared-Up”

Q. What is the process of opening a shop on Tmall like?

A. Dealing with Tmall as an independent company is hard and tedious. It becomes a question of budget because you get double-charged from using an agency to help you set up. It also takes time. Originally we wanted to be online before the Chinese New Year shopping season, but it looks like we’ll have to wait until after.

 

 

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The packaging design inspiration comes from a test tube. It’s a reflection of their constant search for innovative mediums of high quality and comfort that bring value to their products.

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The Condom Pocket

“Yes, sex is still taboo, but people are just waiting to talk about it.”

Q. Besides your fun and comfortable designs, one of the standout features of your underwear is the condom pocket. Tell us more about why you wanted to incorporate it in your product?

A. Being in the underwear industry, I think we can have a positive influence by bringing awareness to practicing safe sex and to help in the fight against AIDS, STD’s and teenage pregnancy. I hope we can encourage people to protect themselves by always having a condom on hand. We also created a special collection named Tush Takes Action.

Q. What is it like tackling sex issues in a market like China where they are still taboo?

A. I did expect backlash, but so far the reception has been positive. Yes, sex is still taboo, but people are just waiting to talk about it. I think Tush Skivvies can help start that conversation and build a momentum to improve sexual education. We are in talks with Durex and Trojan to set up a program in local schools to make sex ed more approachable and “safe”.

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Q. As if running the company and fighting AIDS isn’t enough, you are also setting up a mentorship program. Tell us more about that.

A. Yes, it’s called the “Young Investors Program”. It’s an opportunity for funding, yes, but I also want to share the knowledge I have accumulated from living and working in China for the past 17 years. For younger professionals it will also be a more accessible form of investment since the initial investment will be between USD 5,000-25,000. This goes back to my vision of keeping Tush Skivvies a family-oriented business.

“It’s a tough business, you have to really love it. It takes a lot of money to sell one pair of underwear. “

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Tush Skivvies’ fun and unique designs are aimed to spark conversation and make people think.

Click to here to support Tush Skivvies’s Kickstarter campaign and purchase a pair of underwear.

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