Everyone at Mommy Matters is passionate about designing women’s health products that give back. Today we had the pleasure of talking to the Fashion Institute of Technology-trained designer of our Postpartum Underwear - Ashley Switzer!
Ashley connected with Mommy Matters early on, and was a perfect fit for our mission (Mommy Matters proceeds go to support Saving Mothers’ work reducing global maternal mortality). Read on to learn more about what drew her to Mommy Matters, the postpartum underwear design process, and how she continues to work internationally in fashion design that directly enables global women’s empowerment.
What is your background in fashion design (FIT and beyond)?
Fashion has been my passion for as long as I can remember. As a shy child it was an easy way to express myself. At the age of 14 I started sewing lessons and was soon making my own clothing. After high school I followed my dreams and moved to NYC to study fashion design at The Fashion Institute of Technology. During my time there I held multiple internships at varying levels of fashion industry from start-up, to fast fashion, to contemporary. In addition I spent two summers interning in Uganda focused on design work, where my eyes and heart were opened to new world of sustainable, purposeful design.
How did you find Mommy Matters? What drew you to our mission?
I actually found Mommy Matters on the FIT career portal. I love to use design for a purpose bigger than just creation. Mommy Matters aligns exactly with that. Not only creating a better postpartum underwear option, but in addition the proceeds go toward lowering the maternal mortality rate around the world. It is the perfect combination to design for!
Tell us about the design process for the postpartum underwear and what drew you to the project.
My first step in the design process was reaching out to all the women in my life who have been pregnant to get their feedback, advice, and opinions about what they would want in postpartum underwear. The biggest take away was something obviously comfortable, but also stylish that didn’t make them feel so “frumpy”. With that in mind I moved on to sourcing materials. With comfort and design on my mind I picked a breathable, but fashionable black mesh for the panty. I found a wide elastic band for support and comfort that also has a design element to it for style. The key feature of the underwear is the extra absorbent gusset that also doubles as a pocket for an icepack. As mentioned, I love designing for a purpose, and clearly there was a lack of good options for postpartum underwear which immediately drew me to the project!
The finished Postpartum Underwear product. Stylish, practical, and definitely not frumpy!
What work are you currently doing?
After graduating in the spring from FIT, I have relocated to Uganda to work for AFRIpads. They are the largest manufacturer and commercial supplier across Africa of reusable sanitary pads. I am working on developing an underwear line for refugee women to use with the pads. There is a total and apparent lack of well-fitting, quality underwear available for women. Beyond the obvious health risks there are so many self-esteem issues that arrive from this. I look forward to a future filled with sustainable, empowering, and purposeful design!