BY TRINITY HOENIG
For as long as I can remember, my mom has always been my greatest style inspiration. From her many dos and don’ts of fashion, down to her impressive shoe collection, I dreamed of growing up to be just like her. Yet, of all of her glamorous looks, the one I drew the most inspiration from was her coming home from her 12-hour nursing shifts, hair loosely knotted in a ponytail, tiredly clad in her scrubs. If anyone could make scrubs, a coffee mug, and a lunchbox chic, it would be her. In those moments, I knew I wanted to follow right in her footsteps, though I secretly hoped I wouldn’t be sporting the same, ever-popular nursing clogs. While my mom pulled off the baggy, faded blue-green scrubs, the child in me always wondered why they weren’t offered in lively, fun colors. After all, don’t healthcare workers deserve to look and feel their best while tirelessly working to serve others?
Luckily for me, and many other healthcare workers, scrubs have finally been revitalized thanks to FIGS. Founded in 2013 in Los Angeles, Heather Hasson saw an opportunity to bring her expertise in fashion design to a stagnant, yet lucrative, market. Valued at 4 billion dollars, FIGS is making waves in an industry worth $10 billion in the United States and $60 billion worldwide. A pre-medical student in college, Hasson states, “My first experience with scrubs was when I was pre med in college. There I was, working on cadavers in these extra-large, boxy, unisex, scrubs.” Years later, Hasson met with her friend, a nurse practitioner, just to be faced with the same unflattering uniform. Hasson describes that in this moment, she knew she could change this industry for the better.
Alongside Trina Spear, co-CEO of FIGS, Hasson set forth using her decade of experience in the fashion industry to change the way we approach healthcare uniforms. Prior to FIGS, the experience of buying scrubs was less than exciting. As my mom explains, she and her coworkers would drive to drab, gray retail stores just to pick from the limited, one-shape fits all options. When compared to the plethora of colors offered by FIGS today, ranging from electric orchid, to vapor blue space gray, it is no wonder that the brand quickly became the go-to for most healthcare professionals. Though, what sets FIGS apart from preceding scrub brands? And how did Hasson and Spear become not only the first female co-founders to go public on the New York Stock Exchange, but the first company to make its IPO available on Robinhood?
As Hasson explains, “A uniform is a symbol to tell the world, ‘This is what I do. I’m here to care for you.’ That’s true around the world. And when you put on something you like, it changes the way you feel and do your job.” Previously, scrubs were made out of cotton, polyester, and spandex, resulting in a scratchy, stiff, and unbreathable uniform.To combat this uncomfortability, Hasson took inspiration from brands like Lululemon and Nike, which successfully married style and comfort. Made from their FIONx material, FIGS scrubs are anti-odor, moisture wicking, wrinkle resistant, and incredibly soft (which I can personally attest to).
In addition, Hasson and Spear were ingenious in the way they approached their marketing. “We went to where our customers were. At 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. —that’s when shifts change— we put on our scrubs, parked a coffee cart outside of a hospital, and passed out free cups of coffee,” details Hasson. As said by Spear, “It’s stronger than a college campus. At college, everyone wants to look different. At a hospital, everyone wants to look alike. When a new nurse joins the team, she’ll ask, ‘Where do you get your scrubs?’”
From my experience working in a hospital, this much is true, so the brand’s exponential growth, largely from word-of-mouth, makes complete sense. After all, if laying out my pink scrubs at night helps me get out of bed at 5:00 a.m. for work, then I will happily continue purchasing from FIGS. This seems to be the consensus too, as the cult-like FIGS following grows everyday.
In May of 2021, Hasson and Spear rang the opening bell as FIGS began trading on the New York Stock Exchange, a monumental moment for the company and a win for all women in business. Since then, the company’s revenue has continued to exponentially grow, marking a 34% year-over-year revenue increase, and they don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Investors recognize the company’s potential as well, with Thomas Tull, the founder of Legendary Pictures, Irving Place Capital, and former Lululemon CEO Christine Day making the list of prominent shareholders. As they say, invest in what you believe in, so a women-led company putting healthcare workers first will definitely make it into my portfolio.