Have your nipples been in hiding? Buried under a bra? Well, Molly Borman wants to change that if you're game. The founder of Just Nips is on a nipple mission.
If you track back, Borman has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. “Side-hustles turned to regular jobs, get another side hustle,” says the founder who started her career in the editorial department at Ralph Lauren. She knew she wouldn’t be at the company forever, having watched many colleagues move up through the ranks or on to different endeavors, but Borman hadn’t actualized what her next step would be. Little did she know, it was right in front of her. See, every day at work, she would draw. “I started making a cartoon,” says Borman. “This was my thing, it’s what got me up in the morning, it was my new life plan.” She admits that she didn’t know “how to draw that well” but she chipped away. “Small steps, small steps, small steps,” she shares. “And cartoon me could do whatever she wanted. Cartoon me would be off in Paris and real me would be sitting at a desk.” It was an escape that got her excited. “I was Dilbert,” she says.
It’s also the creative avenue that kickstarted an exploratory side to Borman. She began going to galleries and shows, leading her to this: “I knew I wanted to do an art show about boobs,” she shares. “I didn’t know what that meant or what it looked like, but I was super interested in this feminist voice I’d been crafting through the cartoon.”
Her vision for “the nipples” started there. Originally she intended to work with different artists to message the product of nipple enhancers in their varying styles. “It was going to incorporate this super antiquated notion of ‘You’re looking for a promotion? Try these,’ she says. “So unacceptable,” she admits, but that was the “art” of it— flipping the patriarchy's nipple script on its head. All of these ideas were happening simultaneously— the cartoon, the nipples, and her day job at RL. Until her cartoon got picked up by Lifetime and she quit. “They believed in my idea, which changed everything. They also paid for my idea,” says Borman, “which changed everything.”
Once onboard with Lifetime, the writer turned cartoonist got an animation team, immersing herself in the world of arts and production. “Everything I wanted to do took off from there. It was a crazy catalyst of getting to do what I wanted and getting paid for it, which was incredibly empowering. It took one person to believe in me; I didn’t know I believed in myself.”
That one person wasn’t a senior exec or a high-up at Lifetime. It was an assistant Borman met at book club and to whom she casually mentioned her cartoon. “Then it got real and I started pushing myself. I was taking risks and going for it.”
It was her attitude of “let’s try this,” that got her moving. "I painstakingly took notes about business and what wholesale means,” she says. “There are crazy critical details that make or break a deal. Who do you hire first? What about patents?" Her deep dive into biz learnings at such an intimate level gave her the itch. So Borman called up her mom, told her she wanted to focus on the nipples again, and did. That was the beginning of Just Nips.
“I got a manufacturer in Michigan,” says the Michigan native, explaining that being a part of Detroit’s revival is also an important part of her journey. And she started test runs in her personal life.
“My first pair I made with erasers from the end of a pencil. And I just sort of wore them,” she says. “I would meet a friend for lunch and it would inevitably come up.”
“I’ve worn them on first dates to test them out— the first time I wore them on a date they were very crooked,” she laughs. “He [Borman's date] couldn’t stop looking, but he wouldn't say anything, so I finally asked him if he noticed my nipples.” She proceeded to tell him that they were fake and a business she wanted to launch. “I never heard from him again,” she says.
Those kind of responses only fueled her fire.
If you’re wondering why-- why is this a product women need? Should we be calling more attention to our nipples? Borman says, “It’s a perky look. 100% aesthetic,” and that no one has called her out for being “anti-feminist.” At least to her face.
“I never want to push a product,” she explains. “If you don’t like it, that’s awesome. If you’re intrigued by it, awesome. I feel today with feminism it’s more an attitude of 'do what you want.'”
“Are fake nipples the new fake boobs?” we ask. “I hope so,” she laughs. “They’re so much cheaper.”
Just Nips are currently available in two sizes: Cold and Freezing. “A big part of the design and manufacturing was to make sure that the sticky part was safe enough for your skin and worked with a lacy bra as well,” she says, noting that you can wear the nipples any way you please: on skin, on top of a bra, under a bra, or on top of sports bra.
Eventually Borman wants to build a community with more products that “don’t have anything to do with boobs but are focused on the message of ‘women can do whatever they want.’” She’s toyed with the messaging of “desexualizing the nipple,” which is very much in line with the #freethenipple movement. “Men look at the nipples and think you’re horny, but they aren’t sex organs. Sometimes you’re just cold. It’s not a boner,” says Borman.
It’s also not for everyone.
“My mom said she will never wear them. It’s not her look.” Which is totally OK with the nip-preneur. Borman is not deterred at the idea of older generations pushing back against the product. “I hope they do,” she says. “And then I hope they think, I wish we could have done this when we were younger.”
Though she says it’s 100% aesthetic, she is looking to have more of an impact. “There is an underground market for nipples with the trans community,” she says. “Which is sad, but I’d love to bring this all to light. It’s why I made my nipples super pretty. You also have breast cancer and my true next step is working within the breast cancer community to raise awareness. Or raising awareness about sexual health.” The idea is notably more provocative than a pinned pink ribbon. Think of the conversations they could spark at a brunch. The branding, packaging, and product also has the potential to bring a bit of laughter to a woman going through something truly awful, like a mastectomy.
“If I put a smile on someone’s face for one second,” says Borman, “that makes all of the other ‘is it feminist, is it not?’ worth it.”
Have thoughts on Just Nips? Would you wear them? Sound-off below.