Running gives you plenty of time to think. Lots of things can go through your mind: Did I forget to put deodorant on? God my legs are burning. And: Ugh, 2km is a really long way.
Kristy Chong was on one of her regular runs in 2012 when she thought: There is absolutely no support in these undies.
Instead of forgetting about her discomfort when she changed out of her active wear, Chong decided to do something about it.
“Being a mum of two at the time, I had experienced some pelvic floor issues and when that happens on a run, it can be quite embarrassing. Underwear is supposed to support and protect women, but it doesn't,” she explains. “On that run, I said to myself, ‘There’s got to be something better.’”
Chong spent the next 18 months working on a prototype for a period, leak and sweat proof pair of underwear, investing around $20,000 of her own money, speaking to 100 different textile companies and conducting over 1,000 tests (mostly on her mates).
Modibodi launched in 2013, after Chong had her third child, and she began working on the business full-time in 2015.
One of the biggest challenges (apart from becoming a textile expert) was breaking the taboos around periods. “We wanted to positively empower women to speak openly about those issues,” she says. “It can be challenging to talk about periods and pelvic floor issues in public because some people do feel uncomfortable.”
Having started the conversation, Modibodi quadrupled its sales in its second year of business and is expected to do the same this year, turning over $3 million. The business now employs four people and there’s a waiting list of 1,500 people for the new batch of undies.
Chong, now 39, admits starting a business isn’t easy. “It’s kind of like having your first child again, except the hard part goes for longer,” she says, with a laugh. But now that she’s paying herself a salary, it's starting to feel worth it.
Here Chong share's the lessons she's learnt...
Secret to success: There is no such thing as an overnight success. You have to put in the hard yards and totally give it 150%.
Breakfast of champions: I am so boring; I have two Weetbix and half a banana every single morning, with a cup of tea. I even had it on my wedding day.
Best advice: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If you’re an entrepreneur, that’s what you need to do, and I do that every day.
Top interview tip: Come with some passion and interest in the brand: show me you want the job. Set yourself apart from the others.
Coffee order: Just tea. English breakfast, please.
Wind down: I’m a runner!