Los AngelesCA. Trina Spear first discovered the sleepy but lucrative scrubs market when she did a private equity deal for a large U. Then a mutual friend introduced her to Heather Hasson, a fashion designer who "Trina spear figs" working on scrub designs that featured high-tech fabrics and trendy silhouettes. The two started Figsthe first e-commerce site to sell scrubs directly to consumers.
The beauty of this industry is that it's stable. Thousands of medical professionals enter the workforce every year and 90 percent have to buy their own uniforms. But the product has never really changed.
My first experience with scrubs was when I was premed in college.
I'm 5'8" and pounds, and there I was, working on cadavers in these extra-large, boxy, unisex scrubs. Medicine wasn't my strength, so I went into design. After seven years of running my own high-end handbag
Trina spear figs in Italy, I decided I wanted to do something that would give back.
I started a couple of philanthropic ventures, outfitting kids in Trina spear figs uniforms and then making and donating scrubs to doctors and nurses in Africa. When I came back to the States, I met up with a nurse friend, and she was wearing big, boxy scrubs, and I said, "Wait. They're still like this? All of the traditional scrub makers sell only to retailers.
The experience is terrible. I altered her scrubs
Trina spear figs they fit better and soon heard from friends of hers who also wanted alterations. The fabric isn't functional--scrubs are typically made of cotton, which absorbs liquids and smells. You can find advanced fabrics at Lululemon and Nike, but no one was developing them for the medical profession. Ours are antimicrobial, comfortable, and stylish. We had this idea by the tail. We just needed to execute.
We developed our own fabrics, down to the yarns, in L. My 10 years in fashion helped me develop a network of factory contacts, but it was really important to me to find factories that knew how to make technical performance-wear, not scrubs.
Now we have an innovation lab in Taipei and 27 factories where we are the only customer. We designed Trina spear figs core set of scrubs, but we also have trendier pieces that come out each month on a limited basis, such as a jogger pant. One of our bestsellers is sleeveless top with a mandarin collar. I was like, "A sleeveless top? Are you out of your mind? The first year, we were very scrappy.
We went to where our customers were. The doctors and nurses would notice how cute the scrubs were and we would pull a set out of my car to sell. There was a viral, word-of-mouth effect. A hospital is a lot like a college campus. We know where our customers are eating, Trina spear figs, and working.
Actually, it's stronger than on a college campus. At college, everyone wants to look different. At a hospital, everyone wants to look alike. When a new nurse joins the team, she'll ask, "Where do you get your scrubs? We also went to medical conferences and set up a beautiful booth. Over three days, we'd see more than 20, nurse practitioners, and we'd be the only medical apparel company there.
We were also the first in our industry to interact Trina spear figs customers on social media. We feature medical influencers on our Instagram. People started to catch on. They're working hour days. They work night shifts. We learned they needed a specific pocket for wedding rings. The head of fetal medicine at Cedars-Sinai told us she "Trina spear figs" on her fifth wedding ring. Doctors lose them because they're pinning them to bra straps or tying them onto their scrub drawstrings.
Our relationship with our customers helped us diagnose a quality-control problem early on. We started getting these emails from our male customers saying their pants were too tight. They included pictures that were, um, probably not safe for work. One guy used the subject line "My package. Our technical designer checked some of the returned pants and figured out that 12, pairs had been constructed with a women's front sewn to a men's back.
That was when we realized we needed a quality-control team on the sewing side at all of our factories. When you're growing fast, those consistency issues can happen. Our biggest challenge is to keep meeting our own high standards. Today, we have over a half-million customers, each of whom buys eight to 12 sets of scrubs a year.
We're just getting started. Within five years, I could see us expanding beyond medical.