“I found that my love and compassion for our audience and my beleif in the brand made it pretty easy to showcase the underwear. The passion felt like a shield. Moments like that remind me how invested I am in Swtch, and how passionate I am about producing a brand that makes women FEEL GOOD..."
— ISABEL MULLER
Today we’d like to introduce you to Isabel Muller.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Isabel. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in Conway, Western Massachusetts. My parents are both artists and business owners, and my older brother is a musician/sound designer. Conway is a quiet, secluded town, with lots of farm animals and without streetlights. I spent my childhood with my friends, playing the piano, riding horses, and helping my parents with the animals and barn chores.
I started working when I was 12. First babysitting, then sales at my dad’s store, and actually spent the last year of high school also working as a security guard for local music venues. This was technically illegal, but they hired me anyway. I found that if I filled my time as much as I could and earned money, it would make up a little bit for the pain and lack of control I felt from my parents’ messy divorce. I volunteered at the local Food Bank & Survival center and was part of the National Honors Society. Adolescence was hard for me because of the trauma in my family, and although I had a lot of support from caring teachers and friends, I didn’t have many people in my life that understood what I was going through. I experienced a lot of depression. After high school, I went to college in Chicago to study creative writing. Up until that point, the writing was a savior of mine. During my first semester, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder, something that had been progressing since my mid-teens. I was directed to an outpatient treatment program, but once my semester was over, I moved back home to explore recovery.
After moving to Santa Barbara and working three jobs while earning my interior design degree, I began my first full career at a design firm. I then moved down to LA to continue my interior design education and transferred to the LA office of that SB firm. I was going to work there part-time while I finished school. The firm ended up offering me a full-time job as a Junior Interior Designer (the job after the job I’d be looking for after college) and I took it instead of going back to school. After working for them for 3-1/2 years, I started my own design business. During that time, I came out as queer.
A year ago, my passion for running my own company and the experiences that came with it gave me the confidence to pursue an idea I’d had for an underwear design. I spend whatever free time I get camping, hiking, or traveling, and my idea for switchable underwear had been brewing for years. Having little knowledge of the fashion world, I reached out to close friends in LA that may have connections. I wanted to talk to a professional about my idea – to understand if it was viable and pursuable, or if it already existed. I was connected almost immediately with an experienced product design and development specialist, who is now the Swtch Fashion Advisor. She not only thought Swtch undies were a great and viable idea but believed in my passion to create a product and brand that encouraged women to take advantage of their options and feel confident voicing their needs. One year later, our Swtch MVP (minimum viable product) is 99% complete, and we soft-launched in March.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Hahaha… I laugh because had I known at the beginning of the year that 2020 would hold a pandemic, major recession, and civil rights movement, maybe I would have reevaluated our schedule. Current events aside, the road has been a combo of smooth and rough. My introduction to the fashion world was interesting to say the least! However, every bump I’ve come across has been met with a solution or silver lining that has only made the product better, or the brand stronger. Getting our vision across to others has not been a problem. People either 100% get it, don’t get it, or just need a couple of days to sit on the concept before they’re like OMG I NEED THAT. Since it’s a brand new application of this type of product, it’s been so fascinating to see how people react. To some, our product is scary. Our underwear design challenges a lot that feels safe and normal. It’s hard to imagine using something you’ve never used before! Having said that, it’s been incredible to see how many people have backed our crowdfunding campaign and privately invested in our company without having touched the product. Even through this wild year, we’ve had support, love, and faith from my community and family.
I’d say our biggest struggle has been pushing the needle on our Indiegogo campaign, but what’s going on right now in the world is really f$%^&ing important and I know there’s a lot that needs our energy right now as a community. I’m grateful we’ve gotten as far as we have in the campaign and it’s enough to keep us going.
Another struggle was launching during quarantine. We had to pivot all strategy to digital, and reassess our entire first photoshoot. We had a whole shoot planned with models, studio, producer, etc. That’s all been postponed until further notice, but we of course needed to get photos of our product up at the time of launch… so we did what we could! I have been quarantining with my partner and cousin (both photographers) and so we borrowed some equipment, my cousin and I modeled, and my partner photographed! I had really hoped for a more diverse representation of women in our first shoot, especially because the brand is based around inclusivity and body positivity but was eager to get get the product out into the world. What was even more difficult was putting myself on camera like that in such a vulnerable format. Although I’m in great recovery today, my body dysmorphia still gets in the way of me feeling camera ready, especially when I’m almost naked. However, I found that my love and compassion for our audience and my belief in the brand made it pretty easy to showcase the underwear. The passion felt like a shield. Moments like that remind me how invested I am in Swtch, and how passionate I am about producing a brand that makes women FEEL GOOD, especially when they’re on unpredictable adventures or have insanely busy days.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Swtch – what should we know?
Swtch is an LA-based, queer female-founded underwear brand. Our product is a sporty, sustainable, and switchable underwear that fastens at each hip. The flat, flexible fasteners made it quick and easy to change out your undies without having to take your shoes and pants off first. Our priorities as a brand are inclusivity, body positivity, sustainability, and womxn’s health. As founder and CEO, I’m so proud that our brand is as inclusive as possible, given we only have one product right now, and that we are targeting the market with a completely new product. What sets us apart from others is our revolutionary design and openness around female anatomy and sexuality.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Our 100% female formational team is incredible. All entrepreneurs, if not multipreneurs!
Kay Marshall-Seidman (Marshall Design LA): Product Desing Specialist and Development Advisor.
Emma Holland Denvir (Denvir Enterprises): Brand Strategy & Marketing.
Jennifer Pearl (Team Computer): Branding & Web Design.
Jill James (Sif Industries): Financial Strategy and Projections.
Keala Chan (Chan Hubbard PPLC): IP/Legal.
Claire Van Holland (CV Ledger): Financial Operations
MVP Cheerleaders: Kyle Deven: Partner and Biggest Fan (Has done all Swtch photo & video so far.) Anna Edsall: One of my closest friends and one of the first big believers in Swtch. She helped me brainstorm the name. My Mom & Brother: Incredibly supportive family.