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Naja Lingerie Founder Catalina Girald on Why You Need To Take the “Flat Road” When Starting a Company

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Going nude has never been so important. That sounds a little odd but not when you learn about Naja lingerie which features a Nude For All collection that launched this year. The collection features seven shades of nude for every skin tone. The company is truly is making the color nude a reality for all women, and inclusive for all races and ethnicities, not just one group. The campaign quickly became globally recognized with it’s striking subway ads (featuring women of all shapes and sizes), which sparked a lot of media attention and traffic to the site. Even legendary entrepreneur Richard Branson blogged and tweeted about the brand.

The woman behind all this brilliance is Catalina Girald. A former gymnast herself she was inspired to create a lingerie collection featuring seven shades of nude, after noticing that African-American gymnast Gabby Douglas was wearing a nude ankle wrap that did not match her skin tone, during the 2012 Summer Olympics. The whole concept of a nude shade used to be really inaccurate in that it didn’t apply to billions of women. And clearly women have been waiting for this as the positive reception of the brand has been quite high. “This idea of being racially inclusive and that women can be OK the way they are and they don’t have to have these perfect bodies [is why we are seeing this response.] I think it’s just a confluence of things,” Girald told Levo.com.

Plus, the brand sticks out from others in that Girald developed her own supply chain. The reason every brand doesn’t carry lingerie in seven shades of nude is simple: because the minimum order quantities for lingerie are 10,000 units at most factories and the lead times can be up to 12 months. To produce 70,000 units of product in one style is too much for most lingerie companies. But, Naja’s super-fast supply chain can produce in one month instead of 12 months, with minimum order quantities at 200 units per style instead of 10,000. Naja’s commitment to empower women extends to its factory workers through above-market wages, flexible working conditions and funding their children’s education. Each bra comes with a lingerie wash-bag made by women in the slums of Colombia through the Underwear For Hope Program. And did we mention Jane the Virgin actress and all around awesome lady Gina Rodriguez is her co-founder?

Barely in her late 20s, Girald is experiencing success that most of us can only dream about. However, the path was not so clear when the Stanford grad quit her high profile, lucrative (and very secure) job as a lawyer and decided to start her own company. Her turning point came when she realized she was willing to pay up the wazoo for a gym membership in New York out of fear of having to spend any extra time in her office. “My mother definitely didn’t understand what I was doing. She said ‘You could be anything, why would you want to be that?’ And the answer is it’s because it makes me want to get up every morning and because I really want to have an impact on the world.” That is why Girald would tell her even younger 20-something self to “Follow her gut and follow her dreams and not do what other people expect her to do.”

And if you do start a company Girald suggests taking a flat road attitude. Yes, you’ve heard of taking the high road but sometimes the flat road is better. “When you start a company you don’t realize the number of ups and downs there are gonna be. At the beginning you’re on this roller coaster and you are super high and then you’ll have this major drop and you will feel like you can’t even get out of bed. What you have to do is not let your emotions get the best of you. So what I do now is take this flat road to everything. When something really good happens I don’t actually get that excited and then if something terrible happens I don’t get upset about it. A problem is a problem, but if you dwell on it you’re not going to be able to move forward.”

Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for MAK Center for Art and Architecture

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