12 Things I Learned From the Female Founders of Figs
As the founder and host of The Valley Girl Show, Jesse Draper has the distinct opportunity to interview and get to know the creative individuals shaping our generation. In an effort to share her experiences and learnings, Glam presents First Fridays, where Draper will outline her learnings from founders, CEOs, visionaries and more!
Good entrepreneurs find a problem they would like solve and solve it. The best entrepreneurs do this while also giving back. Take Heather Hasson and Trina Spear as an example of the latter.
The Problem: Standard medical scrubs are uncomfortable, unfashionable and don’t fit the general doctor and nurse population.
The Solution: Enter Trina and Heather’s company. Figs.
The Give Back: Getting medical professionals in need clean scrubs and uniforms around the world.
Not only are they saving the world one outfit at a time, but they’re also incredible female founders. From fantabulous dance moves to creating their own fabric to suit the medical profession, these ladies are true role models for our generation. Here are 12 things I learned from the founders of Figs…
What is/are FIGS?
Heather: What was the first fashion ever? FIGS! Adam and his fig leaf cover up! So technically, FIGS is the first fashion piece…which is pretty cool. On a more serious note, FIGS is the medical apparel that is pioneering a movement of style and confidence into work wear.
Trina: FIGS are the most ridiculously comfortable scrubs in the world. FIGS stands for Fashion Inspires Global Sophistication – for every set of scrubs that we sell, we give a set to a healthcare provider in need in resource poor countries around the world.
Why did you start FIGS?
Heather: I was grabbing coffee with a good friend of mine, who is a Nurse Practitioner at City of Hope Hospital. She explained to me that she couldn’t stand her scrubs and that there was nothing available that was more flattering. Having worked in fashion for many years, I was unconvinced. After three months of research, I realized that there was not one uniform that I could recommend to her. I took her scrubs and completely redesigned them. I started getting calls from her colleagues at City of Hope. I realized there was something here. I manufactured a few thousand sets of scrubs and sold out within a few weeks. It is crazy to me that 1 in 11 people in the US work in healthcare. Why shouldn’t they feel good when they go to work in the morning?
Trina: We started FIGS because everyone hates their scrubs, plain and simple – most scrubs are baggy, boxy, and uncomfortable. We wanted to provide the medical community with a better solution. Our apparel focuses on the things that the medical professional really cares about – tailored fits so you can see your figure, pockets for all of your supplies, and comfortable performance fabrics so you can run around the hospital feeling professional, comfortable and dry.
How do you pick the materials?
Heather: Funny that you ask that. When we were starting our initial production, we realized that the fabrics and materials that we believed were ideal for the medical setting did not exist in the medical apparel industry. And they did not exist in the fashion industry either. Although it would have been a lot easier to just pick out pre-existing fabrics at a factory, it has been well worth it to create something from scratch. We spent months developing the perfect fabrications with the medical professional in mind. Our apparel needed to be both comfortable and soft yet performance-based, wrinkle resistant and durable. It was also really important to us to protect our medical professionals from blood, liquids and other contaminants. We spent a lot of time integrating different coatings and anti-microbial enzyme washes into our fabric. These treatments keep fluid from penetrating the fabric and kill bacteria and infection before coming into contact with our medical professionals. There is a lot of science behind FIGS.
Trina: Heather and her team develop all our fabrications and materials from scratch – I will defer to her on this one.
Tell me about your relationship with Project C.U.R.E.?
Heather: I started donating uniforms to children in Vietnam when I was 19 years old. I saw that there were a bunch of kids who could not attend school if they didn’t have a uniform. I started making them and giving them to these kids. From that point on, I knew giving would always be a part of anything I did. While working in Kenya with Project C.U.R.E., I witnessed first-hand the impact of giving scrubs to medical professionals in need around the world. There are thousands of doctors and nurses operating in dirty jeans and a t-shirt because they cannot afford or access clean scrubs. In the past year, we have been able to reduce the hospital acquired infection rate by 66%. Project C.U.R.E. enables us to magnify our impact and get to the places that need us most.
Trina: Through our threads for threads initiative, we are able to give back to the medical community around the world. We partner with organizations like International Medical Corps (IMC) so that we can plug into a larger infrastructure that is on the ground in each of the communities that we give to. They understand exactly what the community needs. Recently, we worked with IMC on the Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts in the Philippines. IMC was on the ground within 24 hours of the Typhoon. We are inspired by the work that they do.
What is your daily routine as an entrepreneur?
Heather: I wake up at 5:45am to a light drumming sound on my iPhone. I hit the snooze button until around 6:15am. I start my day with coffee, WWD and the Business of Fashion. I like to see what deals have been done in the space, the latest in fabric technology, who is opening up more retail stores. And then my day gets WILD. My days are filled with talks of production, pop up shops, partnerships, catalogs, packaging, photo shoots, web design – I love immersing myself in all the creative aspects of the business. I could spend hours just designing a label or a hang tag. My afternoons usually involve conversations with our production teams in Taiwan and China. At times, the time zones are tough but it is great to have people working while you are sleeping. At night, I go to yoga (or hot yoga more recently). I have to have that release to make me relax and get focused for the next day.
Trina: I wake up at 8:30am and respond to emails from bed. I am not a morning person. I spend most of my day talking about FIGS – to medical partners, non-medical partners, customers, investors, potential hires – on the phone, over email, in person, at conferences, in hospitals, over lunch, over coffee, over dinner. I love having no more than 5 emails in my inbox at any given time. I find I am most productive from 10pm to 2am. No more noise, meetings, emails, or calls. I hit my stride right around 11pm.
How do you prioritize?
Heather: I have stacks of note pads and I make lists in 10 different moleskin notebooks. I am a bit old fashioned and use pen and paper. It gets the job done.
Trina: I make lots of lists – a new one every morning so I don’t forget anything. I know they say to do the hard stuff first but I always do the easy stuff first so I can start crossing things off the list and make sure the easy stuff is not lingering in the back of my head when I am trying to work on the hard stuff. They also say to wake up early. What do “they” know – be a contrarian!
What is your favorite thing about what you do?
Heather: I absolutely love design and making things beautiful. Prior to founding FIGS, I started a luxury handbag and a premium tie company. I bring my same eye and attention to detail that I brought to the high end fashion world to the medical apparel industry. Design is what makes ideas tangible.
Trina: I love talking to people all day long. I obtain all my energy from being around others.
If you could offer the working woman one style tip, what would it be?
Heather: Always smell good. I wear Serge Lutens and feel great. Oh and pink lip gloss.
Trina: Wear what you like. When you feel good in your clothing, you project confidence and perform better. When I worked on Wall Street, I had to follow the company’s business formal dress code. I love that I am able to dress like how I feel now – avant-garde and totally awesome. When in doubt, wear black or scrubs!
How do you wind down at the end of the day?
Heather: Hot yoga and coconut juice.
Trina: I usually wind down by talking to my co-founder, Heather, about all of the things that happened during the day. We focus on different parts of the business so it is great to re-connect, run things by each other, and celebrate the victories. We are roommates so it is pretty easy to make decisions and move the ball forward.
Do you have a celebrity crush?
Heather: Adrian Brody?
How do you brainstorm?
Trina: We are in a creative loft space in Culver City. The open and collaborative workspace is great for brainstorming with the team. We write down everyone’s thoughts on a whiteboard and then categorize them into buckets to visualize and narrow down the options.
What is your favorite dance move?
Heather: I do this one move all the time – legs move in sideways moonwalk and arms twist around each other in circular motion AT THE SAME TIME. Trust me, it’s awesome!
Trina: Miami booty shake – perfected on the Miami bar mitzvah circuit.
UCLA grad, Jesse Draper is a technology expert and creator and host of The Valley Girl Show through which she has become a spokesperson for startups and has helped to pioneer the way of new media content distribution. She oversees everything from pre-production to distribution of the show. Draper started the show because she realized there was no FUN business talk show, only grilling teeth clenching interviews, and she believes the most interesting and inspiring people in the world are the ones who've started a business. In her former life, she was on a Nickelodeon show called “The Naked Brother's Band”. Draper also writes columns for Mashable, Forbes.com and San Francisco Magazine and speaks at business conferences around the world including SXSW, DLD, TEDx, TechVentures and STREAM.