TomboyX: How This Company Built Up A Comfortable Underwear Brand For All Sizes And Genders

By Amit Chowdhry • May 23, 2019
  • TomboyX is a gender-neutral affordable underwear brand that raised $18 million in Series B funding
  • This round of funding was led by London-based The Craftory
  • Married founders Fran Dunaway and Naomi Gonzalez launched the brand in 2013.

TomboyX is a rapidly growing gender-neutral affordable underwear brand based in Seattle. And earlier this month, TomboyX announced it raised $18 million in Series B funding led by London-based investment company The Craftory. Through this round of funding, Craftory is becoming TomboyX’s majority shareholder.

Married founders Fran Dunaway and Naomi Gonzalez launched TomboyX in 2013. And the concept for the company came together as Dunaway was struggling to find a button-down shirt in a Robert Graham or Ben Sherman style.

When Dunaway and Gonzalez launched TomboyX, they weren’t looking for new jobs, but they decided to give the idea a shot. The first move was to launch a Kickstarter campaign — which ended up raising $75,000 within a month. The name TomboyX was selected because the founders identified as “tomboys” when they were kids.

In the first month of running TomboyX, they almost quit running the startup since the response energy dipped. “I was 53, and suddenly I had to not run out of money and to not screw it up. You’re looking at a bank account that’s dwindling, and it’s so easy to doubt yourself,” said Dunaway in an interview with Inc. contributing editor Kate Rockwood. “My parents are from Mississippi and I have a small rental home there, and we’d joke about that being our backup retirement plan.”

The name TomboyX was placed on shoes, belts, hates, etc. While Gonzalez was handling customer service calls, someone asked whether they had boxer briefs for women. That was a turning point for the company as the only option for boxer briefs for women was Spanx. Since tomboys generally do not prefer Spanx, TomboyX decided to order 600 pairs of underwear designed specifically for women and 450 of those pairs were sold before the inventory arrived at their office. And then revenue tripled in six months. In 2017, TomboyX hit $5.4 million in revenue, which was 2,049% in 3-year growth (Inc.).

Last year, TomboyX raised $4.3 million in Series A to build on their momentum. Including this funding round, TomboyX has raised a total of $25 million.

In conjunction with this round of funding, the Craftory directors are joining TomboyX’s board along with Pauline Brown — who is representing TAU Investment Management (TomboyX’s Series A round of funding).  With this round of funding, TomboyX will be investing in product development and brand campaigns.

“We are very excited to collaborate with the team at The Craftory as we continue in our mission to design inclusive and gender-neutral underwear for our diverse global audience. We are confident that their expertise in branding and consumer goods will complement our own creativity and disruption of traditional products,” wrote Dunaway and Gonzalez in a statement about the funding round.

TomboyX’s underwear has been tested on hundreds of different body sizes ranging from XS-4X. And TomboyX’s products are eco-friendly and non-toxic.

“TomboyX is a forward-thinking brand which tackles some of the biggest issues faced by society today and we are extremely proud to be welcomed to join the team as they expand their global reach and continue to design innovative sustainable pieces,” added Elio Leoni Sceti — who is the Co-Founder & Chief Crafter. “It is crucial that companies like TomboyX continue to champion self-esteem as we move towards a more open, progressive society.”

One of the investment organizations that benefited from this round is Kansas City-based Women’s Capital Connection. Kelly Sievers — managing director of Women’s Capital Connection — told Startland News that 24 members of the investment organization will receive a return from the $18 million buyout of their shares in TomboyX.

“They’re getting a great infusion of capital to grow even more and we also still have money in the company because we invested a couple months ago in a convertible note round and that will be converting to stock at this new valuation,” said Sievers via Startland News. “It’s great to have a company that had a nice buyout, that was led by women and invested in by women. … It shows support (for women-led companies).”

Women’s Capital Connection had invested more than half a million dollars in TomboyX including an initial $315,000 over three funding rounds and $242,000 in a convertible note — which is converting into Series B shares as part of the buyout.