The ‘anti-sexiness’ underwear brand Parade is beloved by Gen Z and received $8 million in funding in its first year. Here’s how its 23-year-old founder convinced investors from Warby Parker and Bonobos to go all in.


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At first, it wasn’t easy for Cami Tellez, 23, to find funding for her company. Her pitch to help revolutionize the underwear industry was surprising to many of the older investors she approached for funding — and, simply, she says, they didn’t “get” it.

“I knew that there was tremendous, massive untapped potential in underwear,” Tellez told Business Insider in an exclusive interview, noting that underwear in the US is a $7 billion market. “I felt that underwear was really about self-expression. It wasn’t about sexiness.” 

Tellez is the daughter of Colombian immigrants and cofounder of the Gen-Z beloved underwear brand Parade — a company that’s raised $8 million in funding since its launch in October of 2019 and has hopes of becoming a billion-dollar brand that gets people to rethink what underwear can become. 

“The goal was to create a bold, expressive brand.” 

She tells Business Insider that she had become very interested in the cultural impact her generation, Gen Z, was already having on the world. This prompted her to team up with a friend — now-cofounder Jack DeFuria, a student at New York University at the time — to create a brand that could have a lasting impact on their generation. 

The goal, she says, was “ultimately to create a bold, expressive brand that was seeking to rewrite the American underwear story” and give women and those who identify as female “better underwear” for their value. 

Tellez started seeking funding for Parade in 2018, shortly after she decided to launch the brand. At the time, she was studying at Columbia University, but had been working in venture capital and at various startups since she was 17.

But finding funding wasn’t so simple, she says, especially as a young woman and college student, and as someone who was seeking to create an underwear company targeted toward Gen-Z women. “At the very earliest parts, it’s difficult for older, white male investors to really understand what you’re building when it’s such a personal, emotional category for such a young consumer,” she said. 

That’s why Tellez made sure to market herself as the next big thing: a young entrepreneur at the forefront of the second wave of e-commerce disruption. She knew she could fill the market gap for consumers between the ages of 18 and 25 who weren’t interested in the seductive looks from Victoria’s Secret. 

Parade, she says, represents “the new breed of brands that are more focused on Gen Z and more focused on values and self-expression.” 

Her pitch landed with some investors, and she was able to pull through seed and angel funding from heavyweights including Neil Blumenthal, the CEO and co-founder of Warby Parker, and Andy Dunn, the CEO of Walmart’s e-commerce subsidiary, Bonobos.

Today, the brand is known for its inclusive sizing, colorful garments, and themed collections. Its ethos is of sustainability, and it donates heavily to various social causes and charities, such as Planned Parenthood and Feeding America. 

“The underwear space is broken in so many ways, from celebrating only certain kinds …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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