Entrepreneur Spotlight: Unapologetic Undergarments from Fran Dunaway

Fran Dunaway

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse stories with the mission to inspire kids and youth around the world to become entrepreneurs with empathy. This series features interviews of LGBT founders by a character named Spiffy to help young readers observe Pride Month with a renewed commitment to building a more equitable world for all.

Greetings! I’m Spiffy, the Interplanetary Journalist, back with an interview with the awe-inspiring CEO & Co-founder of TomboyX, Fran Dunaway!

SPIFFY: Hi Fran, Tell me about what TomboyX does.

Fran: Hello Spiffy, TomboyX exists to create a revolution of unapologetic self-acceptance of who you are and who you were meant to be. We create game-changing lifestyle apparel products that fit all bodies, enhance lives, and empower wellbeing. 

SPIFFY: And why did you start this clothing company?

Fran: Honestly, we started the company out of frustration with the options available to women, particularly around dress shirts. We picked the name TomboyX because we thought it was cute but the name started resonating in a very powerful way. We had an instant brand and turns out our hero product was boxer briefs for women. We pivoted and exploded.

SPIFFY: How does TomboyX fight for a more equitable world?

Fran: It's in our DNA to fight for inclusion and acceptance. Our position is to be a relational brand, not transactional. Our values are the reason for our existence and that is seen and felt in everything we do - from sustainable practices to our community give back.

SPIFFY: That's so unique on Planet Earth! What milestones have you hit recently?

Fran: We hit profitability and that is changing how we look at continued, self-funded growth.

SPIFFY: What failures have you overcome as a founder?

Fran: Fundraising was SUPER hard, especially for older, married, lesbian founders with no apparel industry experience. But we knew we were on to something and felt a responsibility to our community. Failure was not an option and we persevered, time and again.

SPIFFY: What's something you've learned unexpectedly from someone recently?

Fran: We hired a new head of marketing and it's astonishing to me what a huge impact small changes or tweaks can make to the overall business. Subtle changes have a ripple effect and changed the trajectory of the business.

SPIFFY: Thank you for talking to me today!

Fran: Thanks for having me, Spiffy.

Fran Dunaway is the CEO and Co-Founder of TomboyX, a brand that is set to disrupt the $13B undergarment industry by celebrating the independent spirit inside every body. Working on her third career, this is Fran’s first foray into fashion, an interesting choice for someone who started out not knowing a knit from a woven. (Nominated by: Gaingels)

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and digital curriculum, with the mission to enable over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs.

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