Are Granny Panties A Symbol Of Empowerment?
This article was written by Carrie Rubinstein and originally published on Forbes.com on May 5th, 2022.
It seems that women today embrace, more than ever, the empowering legacy of the great Coco Chanel, who proclaimed, over a century ago that “a girl should be two things: who she wants and what she wants.”
However, because of cultural norms and expectations, stigmas and even the Roe V. Wade overturn, women, and even Gen Z’s who are trying to live the Coco way of life, find it hard to differentiate between what they really want and what is expected from them.
A former legendary tech wiz and accomplished entrepreneur decided she would get to the bottom of it. Literally.
Dr. Shaula Alexander Yemini, founder of SMARTS, which was acquired by EMC, realized that feminine confidence is about feeling comfortable and about self-care. Along with her daughter Noa, she decided to promote this idea through granny panties that combine comfort, by allowing women to feel good about their bodies, quality, which every woman deserves, and style so that women can express themselves. That's how Bloomers was born.
From Tech To Lingerie
Yemini is a self-proclaimed techie. She started her career as an academic and inched her way into entrepreneurship while teaching Computer Science at NYU, then leading Distributed Systems Software at IBM Research. “IBM Research was so much like academia,” she says. “I wrote papers and gave talks, sat on advisory councils and standards committees, and, at best, developed prototypes. I couldn’t build a product there. And in the 1990s, as I watched the computer industry grow exponentially, I became eager to develop a product that people would actually use. So, I left IBM to co-found SMARTS, an innovative network management company which I led from inception. It was a wild ride with ups and downs, but eventually we were able to get the world’s largest corporations to rely on our software”. After 12 years, SMARTS was acquired by EMC and Yemini left the company.
As her mission is to change the world, one woman at a time, she continues to mentor women in tech and just like Chanel suggested, she too does only what she wants and knows you need to be truly confident to follow your dreams unapologetically. That is what she tells the women she mentors.
“During Covid, Noa and I, along with the entire family, isolated together. One day, we were folding laundry and I pointed to a pair of knickers which I used to buy in bulk on business trips and said “I wish I could find new ones to fit me now”. We immediately embarked on an internet search to find these high-waist, full coverage panties and couldn’t find them anywhere. I realized I couldn’t be the only woman looking for pretty but comfortable panties and the light bulb went on. As an entrepreneur,” she declares, “when you detect an unsolved problem, you go ahead and find a solution yourself.”
Beauty Isn’t Pain
It may be an open secret, but women rarely find what they are looking for in the lingerie department. Too low, too high, too wide, too tight, covering too much, or maybe not enough. A good fit is hard to find when you’re young, and even harder as you get older.
“Most lingerie brands target younger women who live by the saying that ‘beauty is pain’. Their garments don’t flatter women whose bodies have changed over the years because of pregnancies, C sections, weight gain, etc.,” the mom and daughter duo explain. “The lingerie market often overlooks women aged 40+, offering them boring, unflattering lingerie (aka traditional granny panties).”
There are over 40 million American women in this age group and they are the healthiest, wealthiest, and most active generation in history. They feel young and vibrant and want to continue to look and feel their best forever. Bloomers Intimates has seized this opportunity and is on a mission to offer stylish, comfortable undergarments for women of all ages, and especially over 40.
Detecting an unaddressed market need is the first step for a successful business, but the second one, which is finding a solution, is trickier. The two were determined to reinvent the traditional granny panties, which was quite a challenge. “We started out inspired by an old pair of British knickers. We enlisted a talented seamstress to develop some samples and sourced our first few fabrics on the internet (sourcing fabrics in person was a particular challenge during Covid as showrooms were closed). Then one day we had a stroke of luck: we identified a NYC-based lace manufacturer who supplied top lingerie fabrics. Getting them to pay attention to a fledgling startup took some effort, but eventually, we convinced them. And then we had another stroke of luck and found two very talented lingerie experts for development and production. We now have a great team of experts that can design a piece combining untraditional designs and shapes.”
Every Day is Mother’s Day
For women, panties represent a lot of things. More than just a piece of fabric, they are about body image and allowing yourself comfort. They reflect objective and subjective definitions of womanhood that often represent a compromise. Shaula and Noa are determined to eliminate the need to settle. “Everyone loves granny panties for their comfort, but they are so very unattractive, and traditionally the most attractive underwear has been the least comfortable. We are so proud that our startup led us on a path to create stylish, comfortable undergarments that are the ultimate form of self-care. It’s hard to feel good when you’re wearing panties that are riding up your rear or letting your muffin top spill out.”
On Mother’s Day, we all celebrate the significant women in our lives and all that they do, and we want them to feel loved and deserving. Shaula believes in starting at the bottom (literally).