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This March ORLY is celebrating Women’s History Month by featuring twelve women who inspire us.

Each day we’ll be posting a Q&A and a New Woman’s History Month polish trio hand selected by each of our featured women.

The celebration doesn’t stop there - 10% of sales from all Women’s History Month trios will be donated to Downtown Women's Center.

Act fast!
Trios will only be available through March 31, 2020.
Click here to shop.

 

STEPHANIE MONTES

Founder & CEO, NUE

How did you know you had the right idea? How much did this idea change from initial concept to launching your brand?

So, I've never had a perky pair. Even at 18, 20, 22—whenever your boobs are supposed to be perky—they just weren't. I was convinced I needed a breast lift! I'm cool with my C cups, but if they could only sit higher. Then, one day in a dressing room, I tried on this super chic jumpsuit with a high waist and plunging neckline. It was too good not to get, even if my boobs didn't look so hot in it. So, right there in the store's fluorescent-lit mirror, I made the conscious decision to take the jumpsuit and get my hands on some duct tape. Duct tape has long been a celebrity red-carpet boob hack. Kim Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen, and Cardi B are just a few who have Instagrammed it. So, I tried it. Can I just tell you, my boobs looked fantastic. They've never sat up this high (not even in a push-up bra) and I didn't have annoying straps peeking out of my jumpsuit. But the cons were significant enough for me to swear off duct tape forever! The tape crinkled under, which made my boobs look lumpy. It didn't stretch, so certain movements would pull and pinch. And holy hell! Removal was no joke! It hurt so bad that my nipples were sore for days and my chest was left raw and red. My skin was so itchy and irritated, I had to pick up a bottle of calamine lotion!

Desperate to go braless in public for the second time in my life, I started researching breast tapes. To my surprise, it existed already! But the brands I encountered looked sketchy—their photography either felt weirdly sexualized or was being modeled on young, thin models with boobs half my size. Nothing about their marketing spoke to me. And one thing that stuck with me was none of these brands offered products in a variety of skin tones. They all seemed to be available in black, white, and "nude," a light, peachy shade. It's impossible to wear white under white and have it not show. And wearing a "nude" shade that doesn't match your skin tone isn't much better.

I identified a hole in the market—boob tape for women of all shades—and thought "why not fill it?"

The concept didn’t change much at all from my initial internal brainstorm. All I knew was I wanted the branding to look chic and speak to people (of all genders), no matter their size or skin tone. The imagery surrounding NUE still speaks to that motto, and I designed my own packaging, which is really similar to what you see today.  

How do you handle adversity and doubt? What about self-doubt? 

The most difficult part of being a self-funded one-woman show is not having a partner or team to bounce ideas off of. It’s really difficult to brainstorm in a room alone. I often find myself wondering if my ideas are really good or completely bonkers! When I doubt myself, I turn to my husband and my mom for a second opinion and they almost always have good feedback! A good support system is always the cure to self doubt.

Also, I learned really quickly to keep my blinders on. It’s important to know the market but not get too hung up on what competing companies do. Constantly comparing NUE to the competition really created self-doubt. It wasn’t until I learned to keep an ear to the ground (because I still need to be aware of the market and trends), but two eyes on NUE that I was able to do me and not second guess myself (as much). It’s difficult for anyone to kick the habit, but trusting your gut and always willing to take a leap is the best advice I could give.  

What has been your biggest set-back or road block and how did you handle that situation?

When I first heard Kim Kardashian was launching a similar product, I considered quitting while I was ahead. I felt like David against Goliath and there was no way I would win this one. Luckily, I have a ton of brilliant female founder friends who reached out with pep talks. They all said the same thing. Nue has its own value, it's own goals, and it's own aesthetic. We have a similar product but we come from very different beginnings and views. One thing that stuck with me was, "one person does not own the market." At the end of the day, you have Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Nike and Adidas, Ford and Chevy. It's impossible to own a single market, and healthy competition is good for any business.

The hardest part was to keep an eye out, stay up to date on shifts in the market, but not get discouraged by the growth of competitors. There's enough of the pie for all of us—but establishing what's different about Nue is most important. We're an accessible luxury with humble beginnings. We speak to women just like us. We celebrate all forms of diversity and inclusivity. We give back—a percentage of proceeds from every sale is donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. 

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I’ve always had a ton of interests, but in one fourth-grade essay, I wrote I wanted to be an editor for Cosmo. Obviously, I was too young to read Cosmo, but waiting in line at the grocery store with my mom and peeking at the magazine rack was all I needed to inspire my entire life’s trajectory apparently.

What advice would you give your teenage self? 

You decide what’s cool. I couldn’t afford expensive brands and I often found myself feeling self-conscious about it. I didn’t see girls who looked like me in magazines and marketing campaigns, so I longed for a head of blonde hair and colored eyes. These are two major things that fueled the branding behind NUE. I kept the price point low so it’s accessible to everyone, no matter how much money they have, and I’m passionate about featuring women of all shapes and sizes, to prove everyone is beautiful in their own way.

What was your dream job before building your brand? 

For years, my dream job was to be an editor at a major magazine. I’m so lucky to say I had my dream job for a few years. But in the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted to be a boss, I just had no idea how to get there. I knew if I launched a product, it wouldn’t be something that existed already. With the market being so saturated already, I didn’t want to launch a product for the sake of launching a product. I was laid off from my editorial job in 2018—it was then the idea for NUE came along, and my new dream job was CEO.

What inspired you when you were younger? What inspires or motivates you now?

Now, I’m so inspired by the women around me. My family, my childhood friends, my fellow female-founders all inspire me today. I’m motivated by my culture. I’m Mexican and in a world where I’ve personally found being a minority and a woman of color can lead to lower pay and limited opportunities, I want to prove that we’re in charge of our own destiny. I didn’t have women who looked like me to admire as a child, but I hope that one day, I can inspire a Latina born and raised in the valley of LA (among other women of color in all demographics) to strive for more.

What piece of advice would you give to young women today? 

Three things:
1. Say yes to every opportunity, no matter how big or small. I worked for free A LOT in my college days, but that’s when I learned the most.

2. Be nice to everyone. Your reputation is everything in any industry and people always talk. You never know where your peers will end up and their opinion of you can make or break your career.

3. Share the love. Don’t selfishly hoard contacts or opportunities. Connect people in your circle to each other and pass along opportunities that aren’t right for you. The more you share, the more others will share with you. Before I started NUE, I was always happy to connect up-and-coming brands with potential employees, other editors, event opportunities, etc. Unbeknownst to me, I would someday be in their position. And now that I am, I find so many people doing the same for me. It always comes full circle! 

Stephanie Montes Bundle
Stephanie Montes Bundle
Stephanie Montes Bundle

Stephanie Montes Bundle

$28.50
The shades in this bundle were curated by Stephanie Montes of NUE / Beauty Editor. 10% of proceeds from this bundle will be donated to Downtown Women's Center, the only organization in Los Angeles focused exclusively on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness and formerly homeless women.

This bundle is exclusively available through March 31. 2020.

Shades included:
  • Everything's Peachy
  • Snuggle Up
  • Prince Charming

All shades are Leaping Bunny Certified Cruelty-Free, Vegan, and Free From Harmful Chemicals.

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