Award-winning Seattle pair hits the jackpot with underwear

Tomboy X owners Fran Dunaway (left) and Naomi Gonzalez. (KOMO News photo)

SEATTLE – The future looks bright for a small clothing company based in South Seattle.

Just a few years into its existence, Tomboy X was just named King County's Small Business of the Year by County Executive Dow Constantine.

“It’s quite an honor,” says Tomboy X co-owner Fran Dunaway. “I can tell you, we weren’t expecting it.”

The company was founded after a little frustration. Dunaway says she wanted a good quality, button-up shirt.

“Like a ‘Robert Graham’ or ‘Ben Sherman’ made for women,” Dunaway tells KOMO News.

But she couldn't find one made for a woman. Fran wasn't happy, as her business and life partner Naomi Gonzalez can attest.

“I was extremely annoyed,” Gonzalez says with a laugh.

That annoyance led to the idea of building their own clothing company. Tomboy X began with shirts, but after a couple of years, the focus changed based on customer input.

“Naomi was doing our customer service and she kept hearing from a lot of customers that we should make boxer briefs for women,” Fran says. “We had no idea no one was doing it.”

A slight re-brand was in order, and Tomboy X became focused on high quality, comfortable undergarments for women and girls. Not only is the company celebrating its Business of the Year award, but it’s also celebrating the fact it must move into a larger headquarters.

“Three years ago we had zero employees and we were not getting paid,” Dunaway says. “Today we have 23 employees and have out-grown our space."

It’s a small business success that gives unmentionables the spotlight, and makes women in over 40 countries a star.

“There is no one making women’s underwear that focuses on fit and quality. And we really, really focus on that, and got it right.”

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