The underwear brand empowering women, destigmatizing periods and giving back to the community
*This Interview has been edited for length and clarity
Before 2013, those who menstruate had to decide, on a monthly basis, whether to wash and wear stained underwear that had succumbed to the dreaded and inevitable ‘period leak,’ or to simply throw out yet another pair of perfectly good knickers.
Enter Joanna Griffiths, Queen’s University alum and female entrepreneur aiming to revolutionize the underwear game and destigmatize menstruation.
Griffiths mandate was to challenge the conventional design and function of women’s intimates, such as those advertised by brands like Victoria’s Secret or La Senza.
Her solution was Knix: a brand offering underwear that allows women to comfortably and confidently handle period leaks while working to eliminate the stigma attached to menstruation. In addition to their revolutionary underwear line, Knix now offers bras, swim, maternity, shapewear and a “little sister” brand, Kt by Knix.
Since 2013, Griffiths has managed to nurture her leak-free underwear idea into a “$100-million-plus business.” Women Quest spoke with Knixs’ PR Coordinator, Marlena D’Ambrosio, to learn more about the company’s values, history and its future.
Interview with D’Ambrosio:
What can you tell us about Knix’s mission and why the company was founded?
Knix’s brand mission is to inspire our community to live unapologetically free. Free from judgment. Free from self-doubt. Free to be yourself. Our goal as a brand isn’t to just sell underwear. Our goal is to change how our customers and community feel about themselves.
In 2013, Founder Joanna Griffiths launched Knix (originally called Knixwear) with the goal of transforming an un
How do Knix products differ from those of other undergarment brands?
We exist to help our community nix boundaries, insecurities and taboos. We are changing the way that women are portrayed in marketing and have been leading the change in the intimate apparel industry since 2013.
Knix was the inventor of leakproof underwear – a category that is now estimated to reach $500 million by 2023 and an innovation that has since been adopted by Aerie, Victoria’s Secret and Hannes.
Knix’s innovative products are made with patent technology and human-centric design intended to transform how you feel – whether it’s our lightweight anti-chafing shorts, wireless bras that are sexy and supportive or overnight period protection.
Some Knix garments can serve as a replacement for single-use menstruation products. What are some additional contributions Knix has made to reduce its global footprint and prioritize sustainability?
We’re taking the approach of progress over perfection. While working hard to find sustainable solutions, we also believe that making progress is better than waiting for perfection. Knix is a sustainable and long-term solution to menstrual care for the following reasons:
- A single pair of leakproof underwear/pads can last 50 menstruation cycles, or four years
- Variety of absorbency levels (from 1 tsp to 8 tsp of liquid)
- Look and feel like normal underwear
- Size inclusive
- Machine washable
What inspired Knix’s Positive Return Initiative? How does the initiative reflect company values?
Knix implemented a positive returns program where customers are encouraged to donate their returned Knix bra instead of sending it back to the brand. Through this program, Knix has donated an estimated 60,000 bras since its implementation in 2020.
Knix values the importance of giving back to the community while continuing to empower women. In addition to our Positive Returns initiative, we continue to support our existing partnerships with the Black Women’s Health Imperative and Period Purse to provide basic hygiene, healthcare, education and services to people across North America.
What inspired Knix to go beyond garments and pursue other projects and programs that highlight your community?
Knix is a disruptor in the intimate’s category and continues to pave the way in mission lead brand marketing. We are the only brand to combine product innovation with compelling human storytelling to create a company that speaks to women through every stage of life.
Our community often shares their most intimate life details with us, and we take a lot of pride in creating a bond of trust that helps them feel comfortable doing so. Projects such as The Lift (blog), the Life After Birth (Doula program), Faces of Fertility (podcast), a partnership with CAMH and the #periodovershare program have allowed us to share stories in hopes of inspiring others.
We strive to tell the stories of our customers and gravitate towards the medium that allows us to generate conversation and inspire others to live unapologetically free.
What are some of the ways Knix has contributed to de-stigmatizing menstruation and the celebration of women’s bodies?
Knix always has and always will continue to support everyone to live unapologetically free by encouraging and empowering our community. Some campaigns and initiatives we’ve launched to support this include:
Using real women in our marketing since 2013: with the brand featuring over 1000 customers and real women in their marketing campaigns from sizes 0-22 and ages 20 to 81, Knix is leading the industry in body diversity and inclusivity.
Women are beautiful at ANY age: For International Women’s Day 2020, Knix released the first-ever lingerie campaign video exclusively featuring women from ages 50 to 81. The inspiration for the campaign was simple: we are obsessed with women aging. Knix wanted to break this narrative and celebrate women of all ages, honouring the fact that women are beautiful at ANY age.
Changing the conversation around Postpartum: The renowned Life After Birth Project photography exhibit highlighted 750 postpartum journeys and highlighted the stories that honor their transformative experiences. The impact of this exhibit resulted in 220 million views and an upcoming book deal with global publishing house Rizzoli.
What is something Knix wishes more people knew about the company, the history, the team involved, etc.?
When Joanna Griffiths founded the brand in 2013, she started wholesaling our products to brick-and-mortar stores. We were a mission-led company with a big focus on body positivity and inclusivity. Unfortunately, at that point in time, the majority of retailers just weren’t at the same place.
In 2017, we made the decision to switch gears and switched our focus to selling entirely online. It was a big risk because it cut over 75 per cent of our revenue at the time, but in the long run, it was the smartest decision we ever made. We made that choice by listening to our customers and understanding how they wanted to shop and interact with us as a brand.
What are some goals that Knix has for the future?
Knix continues to push the envelope by focusing on what people want and bringing revolutionary solutions to life for them. We have ingrained listening into our cultural DNA and use it to guide what products we make and when we launch them. At Knix, we recognize that our work is never done – there is always room for improving our products to deliver the best results to our customers.
To learn more about the Knix brand, their other projects or to shop their products visit their website.