Today, we’ve got a real treat – an inspiring story of two remarkable female entrepreneurs and their burgeoning brand – FIGS.
We’ve all been in hospitals and seen healthcare professionals wearing the same, rough cotton scrubs. These uniforms were designed ages ago, and since then they have remained completely unchanged. Surprisingly, the healthcare apparel industry is a booming one, with an impressive turnover of $79 billion per year and the scrubs sector alone at $60 Billion dollars, worldwide. Yet, despite these huge figures, scrubs barely evolved: they were still recognizably boxy and nonfunctional.
This idea struck Heather Hasson and Trina Spear, co-founders of FIGS, when they saw the outdated and uncomfortable clothes healthcare professionals had to wear.
FIGS, a healthcare apparel and lifestyle brand, took on an ambitious mission to revolutionize the medical apparel industry. They saw an opportunity to create modern and comfortable medical apparel that was stylish and of high quality, yet still affordable for the 150 million healthcare workers out there. And today FIGS has completely changed the game! Their unique scrubs have made waves in the workplace with their flattering fits, strong fabrics, and hard-wearing durability – giving healthcare professionals everywhere more confidence and comfort than ever before.
Since its IPO in May 2021, FIGS has been a shining star for investors and customers alike. With its estimated value of $6B and a commitment to vertical integration and customer obsession, FIGS is poised to solve problems that have been lurking in the shadows for too long. In this article, we will share with you some invaluable lessons from FIGS that many businesses never learn or forget about. Read on!
How FIGS Came Into Being
Launched in 2013, Heather Hasson and Trina Spears founded FIGS with the mission of solving one pain point for healthcare professionals around the world – creating scrubs that were comfortable and useful. With backgrounds in fashion and finance, the dynamic duo bootstrapped their way to success from scratch, paving the way for a new wave of comfortable yet stylish medical clothing.
It all began with a coffee date almost ten years ago when Hasson and her friend, the nurse practitioner, got together. As they talked about her grueling 16-hour days serving others, Hasson couldn’t help but grimace at the thought of having to wear those boxy, scratchy scrubs every day – and there were no other options to choose from! She was shocked to know how nurses everywhere had to suffer in uncomfortable apparel while giving so much of their time and energy towards helping others.
Heather thought – why were so many apparel companies devoted to providing professional athletes with every advantage, from revolutionary materials and designs? Meanwhile, who was thinking of the people on the frontlines of saving lives?
She saw an opportunity to make a difference and used her fashion expertise to revolutionize the healthcare apparel industry. It was her goal to supply quality scrubs for healthcare workers, something that no other company had taken on before. Hasson wanted to show the world that these heroes of life-saving care deserved better!
Trina Spear was completely sold on Hasson’s concept! Seven months after her first phone call with Hasson in 2013, Spear decided to take a leap of faith. Quitting her job on Wall Street and leaving New York, she came to the state of California and committed full-time to FIGS. With great ambition and drive, Spear liquidated her 401(k) for the first production run and for building the business.
The duo decided to take their innovative scrubs on the road in order to gauge demand for their product – setting up shop (from their car) at 7 am and 7 pm each day, strategically timed when healthcare workers changed shifts. It was a bold move, but one that paid off!
Fast forward to 2017, and they secured the fourth-largest funding round in history for a female-run business, and their sales soared to over $100 million in 2018! During the COVID-19 pandemic, FIGS witnessed great success by providing a few additional products such as masks and face shields in addition to their highly-demanded scrubs. This all culminated in their initial public offering (IPO) in May of 2021.
Lessons That D2C Startups Can Learn From FIGS
Solve a Problem, Genuinely
FIGS set out to solve a specific problem: Its mission was to create comfortable, stylish scrubs for a sector that had long-awaiting innovation. With feedback from both manufacturers and consumers, FIGS successfully crafted a product that responded to the customers’ needs.
After months of research and feedback from practitioners, Heather and Trina crafted stylish designs with fabrics & materials that were anti-microbial, odor-free & wrinkle-free. These garments provided a fit that not only worked well but also looked & felt great! Their simplistic designs not only make healthcare professionals look great but effectively solve the problem of everyday wear and tear.
Moreover, in the midst of the global pandemic, FIGS gave a helping hand to those in need. They donated much-needed supplies to frontline workers, not only making a difference but also increasing public knowledge of their brand!
Don’t be scared to take risks
Businesses should not be afraid to take that leap of faith and explore the unknown! You never know what amazing rewards and opportunities will come from facing your fears and embracing risks.
Figs took the chance many times – moved factories and warehouses almost 6 times – but it paid off. No matter what, Hasson and Spear never stopped striving for their original vision: to create something revolutionary – not just better scrubs. Therefore, one should never hold back. Businesses should step out of their comfort zone and create something truly ground-breaking.
Instead of outsourcing everything, businesses should focus on the art of innovation. Manufacturing or building products in-house gives businesses a chance to stand out from the competitor crowd. Brainstorming fresh ideas and staying ahead of trends is how new products come to life – not by simply copying what other companies are doing. Allowing room for experimentation leads to incredible product breakthroughs that can yield tremendous success for any business!
At FIGS, creating and manufacturing a better product was key to the success of the business. They created scrubs with “antimicrobial technology, which provides odor protection, inhibits the growth of bacteria, yeast, algae, and other microorganisms that cause odor and fabric damage, and increases the lifespan and durability of the product.” They created a product that people love and feel good in and helps them perform in their jobs.
You don’t need to have a perfect product to go to the market
Businesses should not wait until their product is absolutely flawless — launch it into the market and seize the opportunity to gain customer feedback. You’ll be able to measure the demand and make any necessary improvements that arise!
At FIGS, they started out with two colors for healthcare apparel that you typically don’t find – yellow and red. But as their community has evolved over time, so too has the brand! They now offer a variety of innovative colors and cuts to meet a wide range of needs in both form and function.
Understand your community and connect with them organically
Word of mouth is extremely important for businesses. The power of suggestion has long been recognized – if you hear something from a friend, they must have genuinely experienced it and enjoyed it enough to spread the word! Trusting in the recommendations of those close to us is a powerful tool in helping us decide what to buy or do. Word of mouth gives credibility and legitimacy that can’t be found anywhere else. So don’t underestimate its importance and take advantage of what others have already discovered.
At FIGS, the duo founders ventured right into the thick of things, interacting directly, one-on-one with their target consumers and the design/supply chain providers, and created scrubs that would eventually appeal to healthcare professionals.
Apart from this, having an effective Social Media Marketing strategy is essential for success in today’s digital world. By leveraging the power of social media platforms, businesses can reach a larger audience and cultivate relationships with their customers
For instance, most companies that produce uniforms sit idly on the sidelines when it comes to social media, but not FIGS! As a lifestyle apparel brand, FIGS has an active presence on both Facebook and Instagram.
FIGS is the perfect example of a brand that is shaking up the status quo and everyone’s benefiting – customers, healthcare pros, and investors alike. Rather than sticking with standard scrubs uniforms, they’re redefining the game by providing fashionable attire that puts people first. Everyone involved is reaping the rewards of this innovative company.
We hope that this inspiring story resonated with you as much as it did with us when we wrote it. Every business has its own individual needs, so although this tale may be the perfect success narrative, your business’s needs may differ!
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