Just Nips founder Molly Borman, 28, of Birmingham spoke with SEEN about the different nipple enhancers she sells, her involvement in the breast cancer community and her dream mural downtown.
By Eden Lichterman
1. Tell us more about Just Nips: Just Nips are stick-on nipple enhancers designed to make you look cold and feel hot. They’re all about female empowerment and doing whatever you want to do to look your best. So, I say that they’re like mascara for your tits. And some people don’t like that, but it’s what it is! It’s mascara. It’s an enhancer. It’s really fun. And it started out just as a fun accessory for self-expression, and I thought it would be a cool idea to start a company on my own, but I didn’t really know how to do it. So, I just chipped away and then next thing you know it worked, and we’re a full-fledged business after just a couple months. October 2016 is when I started, and we launched January 2017.
2. What inspired you to start the company? I was working for Ralph Lauren at the time. I worked for their website. So, I liked fashion, but I really liked the idea of working for myself. I would sit at my desk every single day and be like, “This is terrible. I don’t want to work for somebody else. I want to work for me.” I had all these ideas, and I would just doodle all day long. And then this one sort of kept coming back, and I was like, “What if I made an accessories line that had to do with boobs?” And I didn’t want to do a bra, I didn’t want to do a pasty. And then I was like, “Wait, I want to make nipple enhancers.” So, I started prototyping with marbles and pearls from a craft store, from Michaels. I would glue them and test shapes and sizes, and then when I got the shape to look as best as it possibly could under a shirt, I was like, “OK, now what?” And then, I realized at that point I needed to make the jump to full-scale production and manufacturing. I worked with an engineer in Howard City, Michigan, which is kind of in the middle of the state. We got it up and running.
3. How has your career path led you here? At Ralph Lauren, my job was in editorial. So, I would do everything from product descriptions to anything on their website that needed copy. And, for me, when I started dreaming up Just Nips as a business, the only things I really knew how to do were a website. So, I did the copy for the box, I wrote everything for the instructions in the website, and then all I had left was the actual product. It was really interesting because my background is not manufacturing or entrepreneurship at all, but I was able to speak with people I know from growing up and from home. My one friend’s a lawyer, “OK, do I need patents?” Another friend is in insurance, “OK, I need business insurance.” And all of these things were so confusing to me as just a person who wanted to make a fun accessory, but you need insurance, you need patents, you need lawyers for so many things. Who knew how many lawyers you needed just to start a nipple company? But, you need a lot, and I was able to reach out to everyone I knew from around here, and that was the best part because they sort of make it easy. And everyone has what they like to do and what they’re good at, so everybody helps.
4. Why was it important for you to become involved with breast cancer awareness through this company? When I found out that many women lose their nipples during breast cancer treatment and are unable to get them back throughout their reconstruction process, I was like, “How can we help? Anything we can do, we will do.” And we were able to partner with a ton of breast cancer organizations that help give out our product to women who need them for free, which is really important to us to give back as much as possible. We have a one-to-one donation program, so any sale on our website, we match and donate to various cancer groups and support groups, chemo centers, hospitals and plastic surgeons as well who help with the breast reconstruction. Yes, there is a need for our product in the breast cancer community, but on the other side, women who are not touched by breast cancer and wear our product for a fun accessory, we want to give as much information about breast health as possible. So, we provide self-check instructions, which are really important to us. Everybody should be doing monthly self-checks. We always stress the importance of early detection and just overall knowing your body.
5. How has the brand created a community? When I first started, and I was doing all the orders myself, somebody would email me and say that they have a group of women, they’re in a support group in some city in Arizona, and I would say, “Let me send you some samples to give your friends. On the house, of course.” And, a week later, we would get all these orders coming in from Arizona because as you can see the nature of the product, it’s a conversation starter. People certainly talk about it and talk about it with friends. So, just the nature of it being a conversation starter, a lot of people come on board. Whether they wear them or not, they want to be part of a brand that’s doing such a wonderful thing for the breast cancer community, but also for female empowerment and just self-expression.
6. Can you tell me more about the different products you offer? Our original Just Nips are single use. So, you can only wear them once. And, we found that people like to wear our product! So, we expanded into reusables that you can wear minimum 10 times, which is really nice. And then we have swim, which are waterproof, so you can wear them with a bathing-suit in the water or I like to wear them on a super hot day. Not to be gross, but that’s a real thing when you get sweaty, you want water-proof. And then of course, it’s important for us to have a range of colors because breast cancer doesn’t discriminate and neither do we.
7. When do you recommend wearing the product? Whenever you want! So, I am all for if you are in the mood, stick ‘em on. New Year’s Eve is a big night for us, of course. But, also, a lot of women wear them on first dates. I had started the company when I was already with my husband. We were dating at the time, so I didn’t get to do the first date thing, but I wish I did!
8. What do you enjoy most about your job? The creative side. I didn’t know how much I would love to build a business, but like I said before, all of the things that were so over my head like insurance and engineering and legal things have been made so easy by the people I know. So, just being able to do the true entrepreneurship and focus on what I’m good at, which is the creative side, and then have everyone else point me in the right direction on everything else has been a really awesome experience. If you ask for help, you’ll get the help. So, I am all for asking for help and saving time to do the part I like to do, and then that’s when I do my best work.
9. What’s your ultimate goal for Just Nips? We want to keep growing, and we want to expand. What I really want to do is paint a mural downtown. A nipple mural. But we’ll see.
10. Who is your business mogul inspiration? Sara Blakely, who founded Spanx. If one day Just Nips could be in the airport, I would be thrilled.
Now on to style…
11. Describe your style in three words: Perky, stretchy and fun.
12. What’s one thing you can’t leave home without? My chapstick. I use a Carmax cherry.
13. What’s the best style advice you’ve ever received? “Go upstairs and change” from my mom. Almost every time I’ve left the house since birth to now.
14. When do you wear the cold nipples versus the freezing ones? I wear cold with tank-tops. That’s our smaller size. And I wear freezing under a sweater. So, like I said, I started the company when I was working at Ralph Lauren, and they’re known for their signature cable-knit sweaters, so I wanted to make nipples that stood out and that could be seen through a cable-knit sweater. So, that was the inspiration for our freezing size, and they certainly work. You will be able to tell.
15. Who’s your style icon? My mom.
16. If you could raid one person’s closet, who would it be? Rachel Green from “Friends.”
Your Local Love List…
17. Favorite local shop in Metro Detroit? Lori Karbal. I’m there kind of all the time. (My shirt) is from Lori Karbal, jeans are from Caruso (Caruso) and my shoes are from Tender. And my underwear is probably Harp’s and Lori Karbal. I’m all local. To me, it’s so important because as easy as it is to order something online, if you don’t go and support your local stores, they’re not going to be there. So, I try to remember that and take a lot of pride in shopping local.
18. What local restaurant are you loving right now? Mabel Gray. And Brooklyn Pizza!
19. What’s the best coffee shop in Metro Detroit? Chazzano in Ferndale.
20. What’s your favorite quote or words to live by? Look cold, feel hot!