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The co-founder decided to construct a model for Gen Z, by Gen Z

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That is an installment of Startup Year One, a particular collection of interviews with startup founders in regards to the main classes they’ve realized within the rapid aftermath of their companies’ first yr of operation.

Cami Téllez, 22, has been working in startups and enterprise capital since she was 17. Whereas learning English and artwork historical past at Columbia College in New York Metropolis, Téllez met Jack DeFuria within the native tech scene, and the 2 determined to enter enterprise collectively. Téllez dropped out of Columbia in January 2020 to work on her newest enterprise, underwear model Parade, full-time.

“As two 22-year-olds, we had been each drawn to manufacturers which have a cultural influence for Gen Z,” says Téllez. “Parade is a daring and expressive model that’s looking for to rewrite the American underwear story.”

“Cami so innately understands the Gen Z client,” says Neil Blumenthal, cofounder and co-CEO of Warby Parker and an investor in Parade. “By constructing a worth model with a daring dedication to neighborhood, I see a future the place Parade is the go-to underwear model for all ladies. I’m excited to be alongside for the trip.”

Fortune lately spoke with cofounder and CEO Téllez about how the primary few months are going and what the corporate plans to do subsequent.

The next interview has been condensed and frivolously edited for readability.

Parade founder Cami Téllez Start Up
Cami Téllez of Parade.
Courtesy of Parade

Fortune: From ThirdLove to Everlane, smaller and unbiased retailers have actually revolutionized the marketplace for undergarments, successfully forcing legacy manufacturers like Victoria’s Secret to utterly rethink not solely what they promote however how they promote it. What impressed the launch of Parade? What makes it stand out?

Téllez: Jack and I actually imagine that manufacturers are highly effective after they write cultural scripts. I grew up going to the mall, going to Victoria’s Secret, attempting on these add-two-cups bras. The times of Victoria’s Secret’s cultural script have come to an finish, and now, the entire class is in disaster.

We felt that underwear had this large untapped potential, and it was time for a brand new model to return and rewrite the American underwear story by standing for social good, sustainability, and believing that underwear at its core is about sexiness, not self-expression.

Retailers have taken fairly successful in the course of the pandemic. However Parade simply surpassed an enormous milestone in promoting 500,000 pairs of underwear inside the first yr. What has it been like working a direct-to-consumer clothes enterprise on this financial local weather? What has it been wish to work with provide chain companions and develop the preliminary assortment?

[The majority] of girls’s underwear within the U.S. is offered offline as a result of this market continues to be owned by just a few large conglomerates. When quarantine occurred, Parade’s fee of development elevated as a result of we had been completely positioned as an internet worth model.

Throughout financial downturns, individuals wish to vote with their {dollars} greater than ever. Our sturdy neighborhood of hundreds of ambassadors and clients ensured that we didn’t simply climate the storm, we got here out stronger. Our income elevated over 500% for the reason that begin of the yr, and we now have a transparent path to profitability mid–subsequent yr.

“We’re constructing the following massive American underwear firm, and we all know the trail to get there may be to proceed listening to our neighborhood,” says Téllez.
Courtesy of Parade

That stated, what has it been wish to safe funding for Parade? Is it primarily self-funded, VC-backed, or some combination of each?

We’ve raised a complete of $8 million in funding since launching in October 2019. We’re backed by among the finest client traders on the planet, together with Lerer Hippeau, Greycroft, Cassius, and Vice Ventures. We’re additionally backed by lots of the founders of “technology considered one of direct-to-consumer,” together with the founders of Bonobos, Away, Warby Parker, and Casper. We’re fortunate to have a workforce of traders and operators backing Parade that imagine the perfect individuals to create an organization for Technology Z is Gen Z themselves.

Parade can also be now increasing with a restricted assortment of scarves. Why scarves, particularly, and can Parade be increasing to extra clothes merchandise sooner or later?

Parade is on its path to turning into a full-stack underwear firm. We’re fortunate to have among the highest product expertise on the planet from Lululemon, Adidas, and Nike working with me to reimagine the expertise of skin-contact garments by means of sustainable cloth innovation and dynamic design. We’ll be increasing to a few new, much-awaited classes subsequent yr. We don’t simply wish to personal her underwear bottoms; we wish to personal the whole drawer, from the underwear she sleeps in and sweats in to her lingerie.

Publish-pandemic and 5 years down the highway, the place do you see Parade available in the market?

Our hundreds of ambassadors and a whole lot of hundreds of shoppers cocreated the material of Parade, and so they function suggestions and inspiration for the place we’re going subsequent as we keep within the vanguard of the class. It’s simple to construct a model that’s related for 2 or three years, however to make Parade a model that’s culturally essential for 10 years we all know begins and ends with listening to our neighborhood.

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