Written by: Christine Garcia
Susanne Shoemaker is the founder of Undercare, a company that creates accessible undergarments for those that have difficulty getting into regular ones or wearing them. However, her background did not start in clothing.
Susanne majored in English and Fine Art while in college and later ended up working as an editorial proofreader in New York City. It was a day at the pool that introduced her to the world of undergarments and clothing. As she was getting out of the pool she saw two elderly women struggling to get dressed. She felt as though they deserved to have an easier option and thus, got to designing.
Susanne’s first design was essentially “by a woman for women” and consisted of “wrap and fasten with soft velcro so that you do not need to bend, balance, or stand on one leg.” Essentially, the way it works is that instead of putting the clothing on one leg at a time, as one would traditionally do, the entire piece falls completely apart which allows for the person to simply “wrap it around [their] waist and attach it like a belt to hold it in place….then [they can] just pull the panel through [their] legs, and attach it on the right and left sides.” After a while, Susanne soon realized that this product could not only apply to women, but to men and children as well. She even says, “starting a business is much more than coming up with a good idea, you have to become incorporated and think about the business side.” For this reason, she spent a great amount of time attending different programs through different incubators including the Verizon-sponsored program through Queens College at the Tech Incubator. Through this program she has learned to effectively use social media as a marketing tool for her products by working with a team.
While her business does not have a specific mission statement, Susanne ultimately hopes to deliver a sense of independence to those who use her undergarments as they will be able to spend less time getting dressed, and more time living their lives freely. She notes that the timing for this has also been great as more attention has recently been paid to the “underserved community of the disabled.”
In regards to what has led her to this success, Susanne notes her own attributes which include her immense attention to detail as well as her willingness to spend whatever amount of money in order to ensure that everything is being done correctly. She says, “you have to be able to live with risk.”
This mindset has essentially allowed Susanne to avoid any big failures. Through taking risks she has learned how to hire the right team that will ultimately help her achieve her company’s goals faster. She says picking the right team to work with comes with experience. In fact, something she has learned is that “you want to pick people who are different from you….It’s good to find people with different abilities and a different skill set.”
Nevertheless, she does see herself potentially trying out different things such as swimwear as well as additional products for children. Susanne also has a great interest in art as that is what she initially set out to pursue. She currently volunteers teaching art.
As for any advice that she would give her past self, Susanne says, “trust yourself and it’ll all work out….Hang in there, keep trying, and don’t give up, don’t quit.” Trying new things teaches valuable lessons and can be very exciting regardless of whether or not they work out in the end.
Connect with Susanne through:
Linkedin: Susanne Shoemaker
Facebook: Susanne Shoemaker