In 2019, we’ve become accustomed to having our products do more work for us. Our cars self-navigate so we don’t have to, our smart home devices turn our lights on and off and tell us who is at our front door — you get the idea.
Now, even our clothes do more than just keeping us warm and dry. They can care for our skin, too.
Enter: Michelle Moran, a social entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in the apparel industry, who enjoys fusing her passions for fashion and health care. Or, as she calls it, “fashion with compassion.”
“I did grow up with dyslexia, and I’m a single mother of a son with Asperger’s,” Moran tells Exhale. “I wanted my newest venture to do well, by doing good.”
Her current business venture, SKINEEZ Skincarewear, was created in 2007 and uses patented microencapsulation technology to deliver natural cosmetic ingredients that firm, tone, slim and improve blood circulation, while wearing the apparel.
As with most ingenious business ideas, Moran created SKINEEZ to solve a problem of her own.
After undergoing cosmetic surgery, Moran wore post-surgery compression garments during her recovery phase. But, instead of helping the process, the garment’s fabric felt extremely uncomfortable and made her skin dry and irritated.
Growing up in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, applying nourishing and protective skin care ingredients was ingrained in Moran by her mother, who worked with Mary Kay cosmetics for many years.
“She taught me how to take care of the neck up,” says Moran. “Your neck tends to be 10 years older than your face.”
So, when Moran caught wind of new cosmetotextiles in Europe that were infused with mosquito repellent, she decided to create her own smart fabric line using skin care ingredients that soothe our bodies.
Using nanotechnology, Moran’s first SKINEEZ product, the Miracle Toning Thigh Smoother, was infused with shea butter, apricot kernel oil, rosehip oil, retinol and vitamin E, which would all be released and absorbed into the skin upon wearing it.
It took about eight years to get the design and technology right, says Moran. But luckily, this wasn’t her first foray into forming her own clothing line.
In fact, she’s found great success in her previous ventures including Legends and Heroes, founded in 1996 while Moran attended college at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. And later on, the Clothes for a Cause brand, which donated proceeds to women’s breast health and women’s heart health.
Starting Legends and Heroes, a t-shirt company that featured all-star athlete designs and donated proceeds to social causes such as child literacy, was born out of Moran’s desire to be a leader despite her struggle with dyslexia, as well as help others who were going through similar literacy challenges.
“I was the first altar girl in Cape Elizabeth. I was one of the only two girls on the Little League team,” says Moran. “I wanted to stand out because I had dyslexia, and it was really hard for me to test.”
Being “one of the boys” growing up also helped Moran develop sharp negotiating skills with businessmen later on. “I always felt comfortable in a male setting. I was kind of a tomboy but loved wearing dresses,” she says.
Even though she was still in college studying broadcast communications, Legends and Heroes had big league athletes sponsoring the gear, athletes such as former baseball player Cal Ripken Jr. and former baseball player Roberto Clemente’s family.
Then came Clothes for a Cause, with collections like The Pink Ribbon Collection and the Red Dress Collection, which partnered with Laura Bush and provided funds for mammograms and cholesterol checks for women in need.
Clothes for a Cause was eventually licensed by TJX Companies, Inc.
“That’s how this whole fashion with compassion exercise came to be,” says Moran. “People really want to wear something to express themselves and feel good in it. They want to give back and do something for someone else.”
After the success of the SKINEEZ thigh smoother, Moran launched the Miracle Toning Women’s Capri, or compression leggings that “feel like pajamas,” she says. Just recently, the leggings were made available in reversible colors and prints.
The SKINEEZ medical-grade hydrating compression gloves and socks are FDA approved and designed for customers who are prone to blood clots whether they are diabetic, pregnant, an avid runner, or fly on planes frequently.
Moran says the fingerless gloves can be used for arthritis in cold environments, or when driving in your car, to protect the hands from the sun’s damaging UV rays. The thigh smoothers can be worn as a smoothing undergarment and the capris can be worn while running errands or doing exercise.
SKINEEZ products are sold throughout 18,000 locations across the country, including retail stores such as Macy’s, Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Walmart. There’s even a partnership in the works with the U.S. military to create specialized compression garments for hot and cold environments.
Over the last 12 years, Moran has worked tirelessly to improve on the design and technology of the line. “We work with a board of orthopedic surgeons, dermatologists and plastic surgeons. We have done double-blind studies. And the skin care ingredients are imported from Paris,” she says.
As a successful entrepreneur, Moran says she loves to mentor other budding business women in her free time. She advises anyone new in the business to educate themselves on trademark, licensing and intellectual property law.
“I would come up with ideas and go into corporations and not worry about NDAs and end up giving a lot of my marketing ideas away to big companies,” says Moran, thinking back to her early business days.
Doing well by doing good continues to be her mantra as Moran witnesses the impact her products have on athletes, expecting mothers and hospital patients.
“Our skin is our largest organ of the body and it’s great that we can take care of it by simply putting our garments on,” she says. “It does the work for you while you’re sleeping, running or in the hospital.”