Fed Up With Uncomfortable Undies, This Mom Created Her Own
Version Of 'Going Commando' -- And Made Millions In The Process
"One of the reasons I started my website is that I wanted a place for women to come together and dream. We women need to know that we don't have to hang on to an old dream that has stopped nurturing us -- that there is always time to start a new dream. This week's story excerpt is from my new book, It Ain't Over Till It's Over. When Kerry O'Brien couldn't find a pair of soft, stretchy underwear without the elastic trim that was clearly visible through certain pairs of pants, she invented her own. Her line of seamless, body-smoothing underwear and tanks has earned her over a million dollars in revenue." -- Marlo, MarloThomas.com
Wherever Kerry O’Brien goes, there she is, checking out other women’s bodies. “I notice every pinching panty line or suffocating bra strap,” Kerry says. And when she spots a problem, as she invariably does--muffin hips, pooch-y waists, droopy bottoms--it makes her smile. “It reassures me that my company is on the right track.”
Kerry founded that company, cheekily named Commando, in 2003 out of a belief that what lies beneath--seamless, body-smoothing undies and tanks--is what makes whatever is on the outside truly ogle-worthy.
Turning lumpy into luscious is a talent that has always come naturally to Kerry. “When my friends and I were single and in our twenties, we all wanted to wear these cute fashions,” she says. “But if you wore just any old bra and panties with them, they would completely ruin the look, not to mention make you feel self-conscious and uncomfortable.”
Kerry couldn’t stand that feeling--the awkward, distracting sensation of panty elastic digging into her skin, hose slip-sliding down her legs, a bra that felt like a boa constrictor wrapped around her chest. “I’m not actually obsessed with underwear,” she says. “I’m obsessed with comfort.”
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So Kerry put that obsession into action. After successfully launching her first product--soft bra inserts that could instantly turn an A cup into a B or even a C, and were actually pretty (nothing like the sad-looking “chicken cutlets” lingerie departments kept hidden behind their counters)--she turned her gaze to panties, ones that didn’t have ugly seams and elastic trim.
“Every manufacturer I called told me that fabric would unravel if I didn’t have them, but I refused to accept that. I was bumped from one expert to another to another. And I didn’t stop until I found what I wanted.”
The final product: a thong with no waistband, no trim, nothing but soft, stretchy, comfy microfiber that laid perfectly flat against the skin and seemed to disappear beneath clothes. Kerry dubbed her panty Commando, with the slogan “Better Than Nothing,” and introduced it to the marketplace--and the tiny, barely-there undies proved to be another big hit.
Commando products are now sold in 1,000 stores and boutiques across the country, including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdale’s.
“A year ago, I became one of the few lingerie designers invited to be part of the Council of Fashion Designers of America,” says Kerry. “That’s unbelievable considering I didn’t go to school for fashion design. When I got the call, I cried.
“Today, when I walk into a store and see a woman looking at Commando products, I walk up to her and tell her I own the company and I’d love to help her find the perfect underwear. I just can’t help it.”
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To read this story in its entirety--and to find out how Kerry created her hit underwear line--get your copy of It Ain't Over Till It's Over, on sale now.