Isabel Muller: “Your first product and launch don’t need to be perfect”

I’ve designed a new style of womxn’s adaptive underwear that is not only sporty & high-tech, but low-effort and sustainably made: Swtch Underwear! The underwear has flat, soft & flexible fasteners at each hip, allowing you to undo and replace your underwear without having to fully undress. These undies are not only great for the […]

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I’ve designed a new style of womxn’s adaptive underwear that is not only sporty & high-tech, but low-effort and sustainably made: Swtch Underwear! The underwear has flat, soft & flexible fasteners at each hip, allowing you to undo and replace your underwear without having to fully undress. These undies are not only great for the typical active day, but also fit so well into the hectic and versatile lifestyles of moms, professionals, commuters, athletes, disabled individuals — the list goes on. The Swtch brand is pro womxn’s health, inclusivity and sustainability, and our bottom line is to encourage womxn to feel strong voicing their needs and taking advantage of all the options that simplify their day.


As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Isabel Muller, CEO & Founder of Swtch and multipreneur. Muller was inspired to pursue Swtch underwear due to her need for sporty tear-away underwear in her daily life as a business owner and avid camper. Seeing a gap in the underwear market, she designed the first Swtch product to meet the needs of the everyday versatile and active womxn. Her passion for body-positivity and a waste-free lifestyle drives the Swtch brand, making Swtch an inclusive and eco-conscious company revolutionizing the underwear industry.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you for interviewing me! I began my career in the interiors world, where I discovered my fascination with problem solving and my love for product design. My favorite projects were those that involved custom furniture design, or renovations requiring a lot of construction detailing. After building my own design business and running it for a couple years, I eventually grew the confidence to pursue my idea for Swtch underwear. I was ready to solve the problem I needed solved.

Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Years ago when I moved down to Los Angeles, I had it all planned out; I was going to continue my interior design education at FIDM, (I had my associates degree in interiors at that point), and work at an interior design firm part-time. I was SO ready to sign my name on that 50K loan to get me through school and life, but had a month to work full time for the design firm before starting my fall semester. I was excited to “have everything in control” and to be following the most beneficial, prudent path. However, after working closely with the senior designers and owners of the firm for a few weeks, they found my position too important to lose and saw that my skills were fit for a junior interior designer’s role. They offered me a full-time job, and asked that I didn’t go back to school. This was such a difficult decision for me to make, because I was so focused on the “sunk cost” of my decisions to move to LA and follow the proper career path. In the end, I made the decision to take the job (which was the job after the job I’d be applying to post-bachelors) and it was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. The experience, client relationships, and hard & fast work environment gave me more than I could have ever hoped to get from signing that loan and taking the route I was told was right.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

Following my intuition has been the most important principle in my life. It’s so difficult to define the difference between what feels truly right and what you’ve been taught is the best path for most people. I work really hard to listen to my intuition in my career and my personal life, and prioritize my gut feelings above all else.

Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

Yes!! I’ve designed a new style of womxn’s adaptive underwear that is not only sporty & high-tech, but low-effort and sustainably made: Swtch Underwear! The underwear has flat, soft & flexible fasteners at each hip, allowing you to undo and replace your underwear without having to fully undress. These undies are not only great for the typical active day, but also fit so well into the hectic and versatile lifestyles of moms, professionals, commuters, athletes, disabled individuals — the list goes on. The Swtch brand is pro womxn’s health, inclusivity and sustainability, and our bottom line is to encourage womxn to feel strong voicing their needs and taking advantage of all the options that simplify their day.

How do you think this will change the world?

Womxn will finally have the option to change their underwear with convenience, which will alter the way we plan our days. Once this daily/multi-daily task is simplified, womxn will feel confident to take on adventures they normally wouldn’t, prioritize their genital & urinary health, and rock a waste-free lifestyle.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

Womxn might feel too empowered, heard, and seen, and then take advantage of too much life! And eventually take over the world?!

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

Yes — I was camping last year over July 4th, and just had enough of wanting this type of underwear! Everytime I needed to change, I’d have to get into my tent, take my shoes off, lie down, shimmy off my pants, change my underwear, and then put everything back on. In a way, those moments out in the wilderness trigger the other memories of needing a quick switch-out but having it be SO inconvenient; in the airplane bathroom; in the car after the beach; oops I bled through my underwear; 12-hour client errand days in the heat and traffic; post-spin class, pre-work meeting; the list goes on forever.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

Funding. We’ve made great progress with bootstrapping the project, then a Friends & Family investment round, and crowdfunding campaign, but it’s time to get going with inventory, marketing, content creation, etc. We are about to start our Pre-Seed round to make this happen.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Your first product and launch don’t need to be perfect: We never would have launched in March if the product was perfect. It takes launching over and over to perfect it and get it to where you want it to be!

The fashion industry is very different from the interiors industry: Haha… I assumed they’d be similar; similar vendor/designer relationships, quantity of vendors, speed, etc. It’s been quite a learning curve but I’m so lucky to have experienced fashion designers on my formation team!

No matter how hard you try to be inclusive, there will always be a consumer who feels excluded: I know we can’t control that. That’s why there are so many different brands, to appeal to all the different kinds of people! We’re doing our best to be inclusive of all womxn and body types.

Product development takes a long time: Designing a new product is time consuming and hard. Every time there’s a new iteration that we think is final, a night’s sleep will bring so many new ideas and ways to make the product even better. Time is good. Time is key.

Launching a startup is not a linear path: Running a startup kind of feels like playing soccer with myself. Every day I have to jump to a new position and make a different kind of pass. I have to be offense, defense, and goalie! It’s ok to work on financials one day and switch over to marketing or social the next day. You don’t have to figure everything out in perfect steps.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

Yes! If you don’t know something, don’t panic, just ask someone who does! You can’t know everything when building a startup or a new business. That’s what teams are for and that’s what your network is for! People love helping other people and you’ll be surprised to see how much support you get from your community when you follow your dream.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

The active & intimate apparel industries have transformed over time to meet the needs of our dynamic lifestyles. Now there’s finally an underwear product that’s as versatile as our wardrobes!

Designed for performance and comfort, our sporty, sustainable, and switchable underwear give womxn the choice to stay in their undies — or not! Swtch offers womxn the option to change their underwear quickly and easily, without having to strip those sweaty leggings off first. They openly acknowledge and support all types of leaks, as well as the importance of genital and urinary health, and understand that not all womxn want to commit to one pair all day. Above all, Swtch encourages womxn to honor their bodies and enjoy the hustle.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Yes!

Instagram

Facebook

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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