I recently found an interesting company, as I sometimes do, called Charlie Dog Boxer Company–a specialist in high-quality underoos for dudes. Unexpectedly, Charlie Dog Boxer Company was created by an ex-lawyer named Joan who decided to drop everything and start her own business in covering your business with only the finest underwear. I always like talking to ex-lawyers who took a dramatic career shift, and I was interested to know more, so I asked her some questions.
Electrogent: Ok–$32 boxers. Holy dollars that’s expensive. Sell me on the price in three sentences or fewer.
Joan: Our price point definitely is a bit higher than a lot of boxers out there, but the quality of our boxers justifies it. We use extra-long staple 100% Peruvian pima cotton that’s treated with eco-friendly vegetable dyes instead of harsh chemical ones and softened using a non-chemical process rather than a harsh enzyme wash to gently peach the fabric for the softest texture possible. The result is a boxer with a relaxed styling and perfectly “broken in” feel straight out of the package – sure to be any guy’s instant favorite. (Okay, those were three very long sentences, but three nonetheless.)
E: The boxers all have guy names starting with A or B. How did you pick them, and when are you rolling out “The Andrew?”
J: When trying to decide on a naming convention for my boxers, I thought it made sense to give each pattern a man’s name, starting with the “A Collection”: “The Adam,” “The Alonzo,” and so on. As I launch each new boxer collection, I’ll work my way through the alphabet. We launched the “B Collection” some time ago, with some standouts like “The Bo” and “The Brett.” Unfortunately, since we’re just about to launch the “C Collection,” I’m afraid the ship has sailed on “The Andrew” boxer. Of course our upcoming “C Collection” will feature a very special “Charlie” boxer, so we’re excited about that.
As for how I pick the names, there’s no science to it. I choose names that I think will sound good as a boxer.
E: Are there any boxer briefs coming? How about pajama pants?
J: Customers and retailers have expressed a lot of interest in both boxer briefs and pajama pants, so I’ve been working with my Peruvian manufacturer to develop both new products. We hope to be able to roll both of those out early next year. Our next product, though, will be long-sleeved Peruvian pima cotton t-shirts with the cheerful Charlie Dog logo on the front and back. They’re the softest shirts I’ve ever felt, and I can’t wait to get them out to our customers because we think they’re really going to like them. They’ll be available in November, just in time for the holidays.
E: Charlie is adorable. That’s all.
J: Thank you! We have to agree; he’s a pretty cute and lovable guy.
E: You make a bold proposition on your website: “every guy looks sexy in a great-fitting pair of boxer shorts!” I offer counsel Exhibit A:
J: Well played, counselor. I stand corrected.
E: You donate 5% of your profits to animal welfare organizations, and that’s awesome. What made you decide to do that?
J: In developing the company, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to share a part of whatever success I might achieve with a cause I feel passionately about. I’ve always been very moved by the plight of abused and neglected animals, and I thought our Charlie Dog 5% Pledge, through which we donate 5% of the company’s net profits to local and animal welfare organizations, would be a perfect way to help a cause that’s always been close to my heart. It seemed to be a perfect fit for our company, which is, after all, named in homage to a little orange Labradoodle named Charlie. The Charlie Dog 5% Pledge is by far the aspect of my company I’m most proud of.
E: Tell me about your original design process. Did you just pick up a sewing machine and go to town? What designs originally failed, and how did you know that the design you have now was the one?
J: Having no background in fashion, since I’d gone to law school instead than fashion school, I started developing the company by trying to learn as much as possible about the industry: fabric varieties, pattern making, construction, stitch types. While working as a litigator at my previous company, I spent six week in Los Angeles in December 2010 and January 2011 working on a trial. Coincidentally, the courthouse happened to be right next to L.A.’s Fashion District. When the trial ended mid-day each day, I would do prep work with the other lawyers and then head over to the Fashion District to try to get some tasks accomplished for my business. One of those tasks was meeting with a talented L.A. pattern maker. I told him what fit I wanted for the boxers and he made a pattern for me based on that. He sewed samples from the pattern and I tweaked it several times until I got the fit I wanted. It was through the same pattern maker that I found my manufacturer in Peru. I sent the pattern to my Peruvian manufacturer and they made more samples, which I again tweaked and refined several more times before ultimately finding the one I was happy with for the final production. I probably went through 10 or more iterations before deciding on the one that gave the most comfortable fit. I’m thankful that my husband was a patient model who gave great feedback on what was and wasn’t comfortable.
E: What inspired you to start Charlie Dog Boxers?
J: I’d been practicing law at a large New York City law firm and then in-house for a Connecticut marketing company for almost 15 years total. While I enjoyed what I was doing, about six years ago I started to feel a strong desire to try my hand at business. I liked that it would be an entirely new challenge, an opportunity to sink or swim on my own initiative.
I started thinking of what type of business I might want to develop and came across the idea of a men’s premium boxer company while out shopping for boxers for my husband. I kept coming across the same tired patterns and scratchy, uncomfortable fabrics and thought there had to be a better way. When I got home from my shopping trip, my husband was wearing one of his favorite button-down shirts that had a really soft, lived-in feel to it. I loved the texture and thought the soft shirting fabric would be ideal for men’s boxers. That was the jumping off point for me. I spent the next several years working during the day as a lawyer and at night and on weekends developing my boxer company and eventually launched it in November 2011. At that point I jettisoned my day job to devote 100% of my time and effort to growing the business. I’m so happy with the decision I made. While I definitely enjoyed practicing law, I love the challenge that comes with running my own company and learning the ins and outs of an entirely new industry.
E: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
J: Since I practiced litigation for almost 15 years before launching my company, I spent a lot of my time drafting and revising legal briefs. I like to tell people that when I started Charlie Dog Boxer Company I switched from briefs to boxers.
Thanks to Joan for taking the time to answer our questions and let us know a bit more about Charlie Dog Boxer Company. Head over to their website to learn more for yourself.