Interview with Rosie Mangiarotti, Founder of Perkies
I had recently talked to Rosie Mangiarotti, Founder of Perkies, a sustainable undergarment brand. The brand and its founder have garnered praise from Forbes, Medium, Brides, and Buffer, proving an instant must-have for women seeking the confident coverage of a decidedly wallet-friendly wardrobe staple.
This interview has been edited for length.
I love to hear about your brand, Perkies
Perkies is an innovative undergarment brand creating innovative undergarments for women to wear. Our first product or the main reason behind building the brand was to create a better stick-on bra that is backless, strapless, and sticks on. But a huge problem with current sticky bras is that after you wear them a few times, they begin to lose that adhesion, they get dirty and gross, and they are rendered useless after just a couple of wears.
So, my idea was to create sticky bras with layered and replaceable adhesives. So, instead of buying a whole new bra, it just peels back the layers and then replaces the adhesives as you move forward. So, that’s the Perkies Sticky Bra. And then, we’ve since launched Perkies Petals which are reusable nipple covers, and Perkies Underwear, which are seamless underwear. We have fashion strips, which is double-sided tape.
What is your favorite item in the collection?
My favorite product is a product we just launched probably a few months ago, called Perkies Nips. Perkies Nips are actually nipple enhancers. So, they’re kind of like the nipple. So right now, a big trend is, you know, ‘Free The Nipple’ or kind of having your nipples show through your shirt. But not everyone has Perkies nipples all the time. You know, a woman like me, who want that look and can’t achieve because I don’t have Perkies nipples all the time, but I still like the look of like freeing the nip.
There are also women who have inverted nipples. You kind of want that like normalcy of having normal nipples. And then, there’s also an amazing community amongst breast cancer. Survivors or pre-survivors who have had mastectomies and no longer have nipples, so these also serve a great purpose for women who don’t have nipples anymore.
So, that’s definitely been my favorite product. Because I love it for myself, and I wear them all the time, but also obviously the more altruistic side of it in terms of giving people that normalcy who have had to undergo surgeries and whatnot. That’s definitely my favorite product.
How did you come up with the concept of replaceable adhesives for the Perkies bras?
Actually, I came up with the idea when I was in high school. I was on vacation with a friend of mine, and I was wearing a stick-on bra in the heat of the Caribbean night. I was like, Oh, my God! Someone needs to create a sticky bra with layers or replaceable adhesives. And I was with my friend, Gab, and she wrote it down in her phone.
4 years later, I was at Brown University, taking an entrepreneurship class. And we had to come up with an idea that solves the customer pain point and then create a full-fledged business plan. So, we were all brainstorming ideas, and I said, I know my friend Gab has a few ideas logged in her phone that were mine, so I reached out to her, and she’s like the only one I remember is the sticky, raw idea. So, I pitched it to my group of 4 or 5 classmates. We ended up doing a business plan off of it. And then, going into my senior year, I kind of decide to pursue it a bit more, and then I graduated and decide to do it full time. It took 3 full years of product development.
You did three years of intensive research before you built your own brand. What was it like?
It was a really tough 3 years working on. I had to figure out the layered adhesives and finding the perfect bra manufacturer, and Covid was thrown in the max, so, in general, supply chain issues. But I’m happy. I went through that because now it’s made everything else seem relatively a little easier. Again, like standard-wise, it’s probably really hard every day, because I went through that really tough time of like not making a single sale. I feel like now I’m kind of have a better perspective on things. I don’t take anything for granted and appreciate every little, small win I have.
Do you have a message for women wearing the Perkies Bra?
Yeah, I just feel like I’m creating products that instill confidence among women. So, that’s kind of my end goal. If women can be confident while wearing my product, I’ve achieved something outside of making a sale. So, I just think one of my favorite quotes growing up was, confidence is the best outfit, rock it and own it. And that’s kind of like what I try to do with my products, just kind of give woman confidence, whether it’s a reliable sticky bra, whether it’s covering up your nipples with Perkies Petals, whether it’s enhancing your nipples with Perky’s Nip, whatever it is. I want to create a line of products that kind of give women that confidence to be the best versions of themselves. Stand a little taller with their chin up, and, you know, be that highest, most confident version of themselves.
Do you have a message for young entrepreneurs?
Yes, like I said, my goal with all this is to simply inspire people to pursue their dreams. I had a professor who taught that class, and he was like “Don’t, be the ones that go get like a corporate job and work for someone else. Be the students who go out and start your own thing and make it your own difference.”
If you can pursue something that really brings you a lot of joy, it doesn’t necessarily have to be starting your own company. It could be working for yourself in terms of whether you want to start your own practice, whether it’s a law practice or a therapist, or whatever that might be.
I do think you have this finite window of time when you’re younger, to really put yourself first, before you have kids, before you have been married, before you have a house, before these real-life responsibilities come about. You have this window of time where you can focus on you and your own dreams to take advantage of your status as a young entrepreneur. Once you’re 50, not everyone wants to help you out because they’re like oh, you could probably figure it out on your own. But, when you’re like in your low twenties, you ask someone for advice, they’re like bending over backward to help you and guide you and mentor you. So, I do think, I always recommend starting a company, but I also think doing it when you’re young is a good piece of advice that I was once told, and that I clearly took to heart.
What is your next move, either in your personal life or in your business?
Yes, I’ll give you both next moves. This year, I really plan, and I’m already acquiring some wholesale accounts, some like bigger wholesale accounts, which I’m really excited about. Like I said, I celebrate all the small wins along the way, like getting an order from a small boutique. That’s $100 like nothing like crazy, but I still get excited about that and making a single sale. I’m like yay! It’s awesome. I’m creating products that people love to buy.
But that’s obviously small. Those are small wins compared to some big ones that I have. Approaching one of them I had a couple of days ago, I have my biggest wholesale account so far. They placed an order on Friday, which I’m so excited about. I can’t say the name right now, but I am hoping they’ll continue to place those bigger orders. And we’re planning to get a few more orders coming in over the next couple of weeks. It’s all very exciting.
And I’m excited for this year in terms of like sales, quantities, and sales volumes. I feel like the last few years have been figuring out the kinks and working on the product development where now I have 3 great products, and the Petals and the Nips are the ones that are easiest to manufacture and easiest to scale. So that’s kind of been my focus and we’ll see where it goes in this year.
Personally, I’m moving to LA in the first week of February. So, I think that will be the move to the West Coast and to be in California, where the weather is warmer, and you know, to be surrounded by content creators, and tons of entrepreneurs and creators, in general, people who just understand what it’s like starting a company. I think that’ll all be really helpful and valuable for the brand, and for me in person.