#13 -- Fran Dunaway, CEO of TomboyX, A fast-growing startup catering to difference and LGBTQ

Sue Heilbronner

Fran Dunaway, co-founder and CEO of TomboyX, is an atypical leader. A humble and curious activist at heart, she's grown her women's apparel and accessories company at an amazing pace by being inclusive and focusing on previously underrepresented groups. As sales grow, new markets are discovering TomboyX and Fran finds ways to incorporate the needs of these demographics into her products. "This brand is for the people...the brand that helps people express who they are," she says in this Real Leaders podcast. Nowhere was this more obvious than in their initial Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign which raised $76K in 30 days. Clearly people saw something different and special and wanted to be part of it.

Starting out as a clothing line and targeting the LGBTQ community via Facebook, TomboyX has decided to increase its emphasis on underwear, focusing on the huge success of its line of women’s boxer brief. The timing was perfect as a tide of acceptance for gay and transgender rights began to sweep mainstream culture and media. The company's development has mirrored these cultural changes by listening to customers. Fran says, "We're evolving in tandem...I don't feel like we're necessarily leading the charge, we're just paying attention."

A two-time cancer survivor, Fran is no stranger to the tenacity required to build an early-stage company like TomboyX. "Nothing is more terrifying than starting your own business." She finds fulfillment in celebrating differences - different bodies, different careers, and different lifestyles. Find out how adaptability, inclusion and simple kindness have poised TomboyX to revolutionize the women's undergarment industry.

Sue Heilbronner

Sue Heilbronner is the CEO of MergeLane and a Conscious Leadership executive coach and consultant.

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