Ruby is a 12-year-old woman with lots of hobbies: swimming, dancing, skateboarding, making movies on TikTook. Like most youngsters her age, she needs to really feel comfy and assured in her favourite actions—and lots of that has to do with what she wears. But discovering the best garments hasn’t at all times been simple.
Ruby was 9 years-old when she began to socially transition.
Ruby Alexander is the inspiration behind RUBIES, the model that sells form-fitting put on for transgender youths. RUBIES
Finding garments that have been appropriate for her was a problem from the start, particularly when it got here to swimming.
Jamie Alexander, Ruby’s father
At first, Ruby humored her mother and father, Jamie and Angela, and wore board shorts to the pool. But on her 11th birthday, she requested them if she might put on a bikini like all the opposite women her age. They fortunately agreed.
“Initially, we just bought her regular bikinis, and they worked fine in most situations,” says Jamie.
It wasn’t till they have been reserving a household journey to an unfamiliar nation that they began to query Ruby’s security sporting a bikini on the seashore. “I honestly wasn’t sure how much acceptance there was there,” Jamie explains.
Body positivity is an vital and nuanced matter, particularly for transgender kids. Clothing with the best protection ensures extra than simply consolation and help—it will probably present bodily security, too. Transgender youths are topic to bullying and violence at a lot increased charges than cisgender youths, a actuality Jamie and Angela have been conscious about. Their concern spurred a radical on-line seek for bottoms with higher compression.
How one founder went from growing software program to designing form-fitting put on
There are over 400,000 transgender and non-binary kids in North America alone. Yet, when Jamie began searching for swimwear for Ruby, he was shocked by the shortage of choices.
All the merchandise have been for trans adults then sized down. There have been no manufacturers that spoke to trans youngsters, who’re the identical as different youngsters and simply need one thing that resonates with them.
He was decided to alter that.
In October of 2019, Jamie left his function as Chief Technology Officer at a software program firm he’d based to start out a brand new enterprise: RUBIES. His mission was to create form-fitting bikini bottoms for transgender women and non-binary youngsters below the age of 14. More importantly, he needed to construct a model that uplifted trans youngsters.
“There’s a big political focus in the transgender community, which I’m grateful for. But, I didn’t want to go that route with RUBIES,” Jamie says. “I needed to concentrate on celebrating trans youngsters. Because that’s what they’re: they’re simply youngsters. And we must always have a good time them the best way we have a good time all different youngsters.”
Though wholly new to attire and style, Jamie was no stranger to entrepreneurship, having beforehand constructed three profitable companies. He poured himself into the inclusive style business and joined the Fashion Zone at Ryerson, which helps aspiring entrepreneurs begin attire companies. The Fashion Zone offers budding entrepreneurs with entry to gear, workshops, and business advisors and professionals.
It was there that he met an area garment engineer, Olena Vivcharyuk. Jamie’s imaginative and prescient resonated with Olena, and he or she helped design and stitch the primary bikini backside prototype for RUBIES.
With her assist, Jamie produced 25 bikini backside prototypes, and was prepared to start out testing them. Jamie knew from his former roles that it was integral to get as a lot suggestions as doable, as early as doable.
Whether you’re designing software program merchandise or clothes, the identical processes apply: product testing, cycles of R&D, early suggestions, and so forth.
For Ruby and her mother and father, Angela and Jamie, probably the most significant facet of the enterprise has been encouraging conversations and fostering a supportive neighborhood. RUBIES
As a member of assorted teams on Facebook for fogeys with transgender kids, Jamie knew how close-knit the neighborhood was and shortly realized mother and father can be open to their youngsters attempting out the bottoms. In trade for his or her time and suggestions, RUBIES supplied them free bikini bottoms by mail.
What Jamie did not anticipate was simply how a lot enthusiasm he’d encounter. “I was overwhelmed with the positive responses. But, the first set of bottoms were completely wrong by a full size. Every single prototype. It was a mess,” Jamie says, laughing. But that didn’t deter him.
Ten iterations later, Jamie was able to launch the Ruby Shaping Bikini Bottom product.
Within two months, RUBIES had shipped over 250 pairs.
Today, every pair of RUBIES bikini bottoms and underwear contains a mushy compression that gives worry-free consolation and helps maintain all the things in place. It’s designed for the seashore, or the pool with out the slightest compromise in fashion.
Building a neighborhood, one postcard at a time
From the outset, Jamie knew RUBIES wanted to promote on-line and direct-to-consumer. He needed to keep up end-to-end management of the model and their merchandise, however extra importantly, protect the firsthand relationship with prospects and their households.
As for RUBIES’ namesake, she’s current everywhere in the web site, whether or not it’s dancing GIFs or modelling the merchandise. The model is very a lot a mirrored image of Ruby herself—enjoyable, vivid, filled with positivity, and heat.
And Ruby’s affect extends nicely past the model’s identify—she’s additionally the brains behind the postcard program. Since they began delivery packages, Ruby would slip a hand-crafted postcard into each order Jamie despatched out. She needs to ensure that each child felt supported, seen, and understood.
RUBIES postcard program invitations younger college students to create unique paintings and write notes of encouragement for transgender kids. RUBIES
I really like writing the postcards. It’s stress-free. It makes me blissful to consider the youngsters who obtain the packages. A number of of them have change into my associates.
Seeing the profound impression the postcards have been having on kids and their households, Jamie expanded the postcard program by way of Ruby’s college lecturers and their community. The program encourages lecturers and their lecture rooms to submit paintings and handwritten notes which might be changed into postcards and included in each packaged order despatched by RUBIES.
RUBIES is on a mission to assist transgender youngsters join and make new associates––and to provide them the braveness they want once they’re feeling brief on it. RUBIES
Since the pandemic has hampered the college postcard program, Jamie has shifted his focus to company packages by way of the Every Girl Deserves to Shine Campaign.
In reality, in May of this 12 months, Jamie and Ruby joined Shopify’s Town Hall, a stay inside broadcast, to speak about RUBIES and share their story. Thousands of workers tuned in and helped RUBIES increase over $22,000 in donations in below an hour.
Helping transgender women shine on a regular basis
For many transgender kids, passing is a privilege, and Jamie acknowledges that affording RUBIES bikini bottoms isn’t an possibility for a lot of households that may profit from them. That’s why he’s additionally launched a program without cost swimwear.
“The feedback I’ve gotten from parents is that this will get their kids swimming again. Get them feeling good about themselves again. I don’t want to put a price on that,” Jamie says.
It’s a goodwill system. I’m not adjudicating who deserves free gadgets or not. All I ask for in return is suggestions so we will make this product even higher for our youngsters.
Jamie has set a aim to ship 1,000 free pairs of bottoms globally to households in want over the subsequent 12 months, with RUBIES even protecting the price of delivery. To him, connecting with different households and giving kids the liberty to be themselves has at all times been probably the most fulfilling facet of constructing the enterprise.
The future is vivid
Looking ahead, Jamie needs to shift extra of his concentrate on constructing consciousness for RUBIES by way of extra investments in advertising and marketing. With lots of his buyer referrals coming organically from Facebook, he’s desirous to benefit from Shopify’s latest partnership with Facebook, which lets enterprise house owners create a custom-made on-line storefront for Facebook and Instagram.
I have not spent something on advertising and marketing for the time being. Part of the explanation is I am at all times behind in my stock. Don’t get me mistaken, it’s an ideal downside to have. But the subsequent step is ramping up advertising and marketing.
To date, the impression this father-daughter duo has made is nothing in need of life-changing. And they’re not stopping at swimwear. Since assembly on the Fashion Zone, Olena has joined Jamie to assist him design two new RUBIES merchandise: a one-piece bathing swimsuit and leggings.
“Three products will keep us busy for the next couple of years, but who knows where else we will expand,” Jamie says.
And as for recommendation for fogeys with transgender kids? Jamie doesn’t have all of the solutions—and he doesn’t faux to, both. But if there’s one factor he’s discovered, it’s this: “You have to let your kid lead you.”