BOGOTÁ — Naja is a new e-commerce lingerie company launched in December 2013 that flips the typical script of lingerie production to make beautifully designed underwear and bras at relatively economical prices for and by women. CEO and founder the lingerie brand Catalina Girald states: “The whole industry is about seduction, and most of the images you see of women are ‘come and get me.’”
But with the support and collaboration of her friend and Puerto Rican actress, Gina Rodriguez, who is best known from her comedy-drama series Jane the Virgin, Girald strove to change the narrative to: “Let’s present women as strong and intelligent. You wear lingerie everyday, so it needs to be about you.”
Naja Lingerie: Who They Are & What They Do
Headquartered in Girald’s hometown of Medellín, Colombia, Naja employs single mothers and female heads of household to flexibly work from home and care for their children. They are paid “above market wages with healthcare benefits,” as stated on their webpage. One of the incredible benefits this company has for its employees is providing their children with books, school supplies, uniforms and all school meals paid by the company itself.
In addition, Naja helps educate and employ “displaced” women in Colombia through its Underwear for Hope program, which donates a percentage of each purchase to the Golondrinas Foundation in Medellín. From there, the latter uses the donations for their single mothers’ sewing program instructed by nuns and, in turn, Girald hires the trained single mothers to work for Naja.
Naja and Single Mothers
These single mothers are responsible for producing the complimentary wash-bags that accompany the bra. This program allows “the marginalized Colombian women to work from home and become their own ‘micro-entrepreneurs’ with 2 percent of its revenue donated to local charities that provide continuing education to these women,” Girald is recognized significantly for creating a company that gives back to its women.
Naja is an incredible company changing the lives of the women involved in its conception and production in addition to those that purchase the clothing. Women are being empowered by this new brand of lingerie, which includes motivational quotes and a unique style that calls upon strength and confidence. Two powerful and independent women are initiating a brand and movement that’s shifting the standard of the industry as a whole.
Naja and Beyond
Naja is only the beginning for Catalina Girald. She plans to expand the Underwear for Hope program to the United States and is determined to grow the brand and its charitable outreach capabilities:
“I see Naja as a lifestyle brand that’s inclusive of all women, so I’d like to be able to expand our size range. I’d also like to see it move beyond lingerie to include sleepwear, sheets and anything related to bedroom and bathroom. That’s how I see it evolving. And keeping it at an affordable price point.”
Assisting in the alleviation of these poverty-stricken women and their families will aide the world economy as a whole. Rodriguez describes this sentiment as “ensuring that women are employed is ensuring that the next generation is educated, this is good for society as a whole and helps in the elimination of poverty.”
As an eco-conscious company that preserves the ecosystem through digital printing technologies, Naja operates with inkjet printers to imprint designs onto the fabric, and sublimation printing (heat that transfers dye onto the fabric). The process is not only efficient, but it also reduces the extreme water usage of traditional dyeing systems. The company utilizes readily available raw materials such as recycled plastic bottles to complete new collections in the timely manner of 4-6 months.
The production of a reasonable and limited amount of pieces occurs in order for the company to recognize the demand from their consumers’ purchases and to create more, if requested, in the timely manner of 2-3 weeks’ time.
Girald has noticed with other lingerie brands that “each year, tons of apparel goes to landfills and a lot of that is excess merchandise” that accumulates as a result of most companies’ minimum order requirement of 10,000 units of individual designs. Even though the high-quality of their brand is prevalent, Naja doesn’t believe that their consumers must pay top dollar for such luxuries; thus, they strive to make the material the most comfortable and luxurious as possible.
Besides reducing cost and increasing quality, the company also promotes a healthy self-image and a sense of empowerment through their unique interior stitching of motivational quotes in the bra cups and the crotch of the underwear themselves.
These women aren’t only trying to better their own lives, but with the skills they’ve learned with the Underwear for Hope Program, they have become artisans in their own right. The designs created for Naja tell a unique story about the hands that produced such high-quality pieces as well as delineate a unique tale of empowering cultural movement within itself.