In 2011, Kristy Chong was at the height of her PR career working in roles for McDonald’s Australia, sanofi-aventis and Edelman PR. However, after the birth of her second child, Kristy experienced bladder weakening. It’s a common problem after pregnancy, but she still had to face managing that unspoken issue of Light Bladder Leakage.
However, what turned out to be an embarrassing problem for some turned out to be Kristy’s kryptonite, and she set upon a journey to revolutionise the way women wear underwear.
Over an 18-month period, Kristy designed, developed and patented her Modifier Technology absorbent underpants, which later turned into the Modibodi collection, underwear which was comfortable, beautiful and protective for women at every stage of life. She spoke to SHARP about building her company.
Can you explain for us the product in your own words?
Modibodi is fashionable, sustainable, hi-tech and super comfortable underwear (and now swimwear) that totally replaces the need for disposable hygiene. It’s pee, period and perspiration proof as well as pregnancy perfect! We’re breaking taboos, opening minds and offering a reusable, sustainable option that’s not just for women – but for the benefit of all bodies on this planet. Because we believe that making a positive impact should be as easy as changing your undies & swimwear.
There are so many people who find problems and gaps in the market, yet still sit back and don’t do anything about it. What do you think is different about you and what would you say to anyone who spots a gap in the market?
Once I realised how problematic the issue was I couldn’t understand why, with all the advancements in technology, our underwear and disposable hygiene had not evolved. I knew instantly that I was going to have to create a whole new product category for all women. I am really proud that I took that idea and turned it into a product that can more conveniently, comfortably and reliably manage menstrual flow or incontinence, and reduce the amount of single-use products ending up in landfill and damaging our environment.
I worked with scientists and garment developers and it took over 18 months to create our patented Modifier Technology. The technology is found in the gusset area and works by wicking moisture away from the body through to an absorbent and odour eliminating middle layer, then a waterproof breathable, hi-tech barrier prevents leakage. You can wear Modibodi all day long and never have the need to use tampons, liners or pads again!
Were there any stages when you wanted to give up? You have three boys and I’m guessing a busy family life, how did you balance everything?
While I am driven by a challenge, running a business and growing at the rate we are without extra funds, can really stretch your capacity. Throw 3 kids under 9 and a busy husband on top of that and some days it can be overwhelming. But what I do know is those times of anguish and fear are there for a reason, and while they are hard, I now understand that I am capable and while hard, it will always work itself out.
How many people do you think are now wearing an item from the collection and in how many countries? How does this make you feel?
We’ve sold almost half a million pairs of Modibodi across the globe and we’d like to think that Modibodi has made its mark on every continent. We’ve been told they have travelled in an expedition to Antarctica as well!
What does the future hold for you and the brand?
The global expansion of Modibodi as a brand into new markets including Iceland, South Africa, USA, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, new products in new categories that cater for all bodies and building a world class lifestyle business. My goal is to, not only build a large financially profitable business, but to create a business that can deliver an affordable, sustainable solution to women in need who are forced to leave school or education because of their lack of access to feminine hygiene products. We are expanding our sustainable and organic range of underwear, and expanding into new categories again – we can’t say too much just yet!
Our Give a Pair program is something that is also very dear to the entire team at Modibodi and we are on a mission to provide hundreds if not thousands of women in need across the UK, US, Australia and the globe the opportunity to have a dignified way to manage their incontinence and menstrual cycle.