Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways from the lazy days of the pandemic is that wearing bras isn’t fun (well, maybe we knew this before the pandemic). Tight, confining, restrictive lingerie provides structure and coverage, but why bother with the hassle if you’re not going anywhere fancy? Why relax in a bra when you could simply … not? Enter Kelly Morrissey and Lisa Loyd, the founders of Huntington Beach-based bra-free loungewear brand JJwinks.
Picture this: You’re exhausted after a long day of dealing with the in-person world and just want to change into comfy clothes and watch the latest Real Housewives episode. You retreat to your home just to be met by unexpected guests … and their eagle-eyed friends. Instead of ditching the wretched bra and returning to your partner’s oversized sweatshirt, why can’t there be a stylish alternative?
This is the very situation that JJwinks co-founders (and Huntington Beach locals), Kelly Morrissey and Lisa Loyd, repeatedly encountered and repeatedly detested. The neighborhood pals would commiserate when their sons would traipse their squad of friends through their homes when the women were by and far ready to ditch the bra and transition into loungewear. Instead of embracing the “freed nip”, the women set out to create the perfect loungewear top so bras never need to be a part of relaxation time, no matter what the circumstances.
The road to creating the brand’s popular “light hug” top was a long one but after numerous back and forths with an LA manufacturer, JJwinks has patented its signature technology. Better yet? It’s made and shipped sustainably.
“It's not like we had something else that we could just kind of work from. We had to really figure out how you were getting to be able to sleep comfortably in something that was going to also camouflage your headlights,” says Loyd.
The pair had to first find a sample maker to create the initial version of the garment. From there, they toyed with the construction of the top, and how to provide effective, flattering coverage.
“It was really challenging. It took a lot of time and effort back and forth from LA back down to Orange County. The fitting process was pretty intense, to be honest, but well worth it,” says the founders.
What truly sets the brand apart is its strong stance on sustainability and dedication to its California production.
“Before we even made our first sample, we decided we wanted to make it in LA and we wanted to make it sustainably, we were both just kind of raised like that,” says Morrissey and Loyd.
From using specific fabrics to shipping without excessive packaging to working with a partner to offset carbon emissions from products sold and shipped, the brand is highly dedicated to its sustainability. With the help of carbon offsets, the brand is entirely carbon neutral.
“It's the main underlying thing that drives everything we do... We may have some great ideas or a customer might ask for something. But if we can't do it sustainably we just take it off the table. So it's a big deal to us even though we don't talk about it that much,” says the founders.
The next natural step for the brand was to break into brick-and-mortar stores. JJwinks was sold exclusively online for five years prior and opened its pop-up location in Corona Del Mar in May 2022. It will be open until the end of January 2023.
While the brick-and-mortar store gave customers the chance to see, feel, and try on the clothes they had admired online, it also gave the JJwinks founders a chance to hear candid feedback from their customers. From new colorways to new styles, the brand relies heavily on its customer feedback to create its new collections.
For aspiring entrepreneurs, Loyd and Morrissey suggest connecting with people in the industry whom they admire.
“Early on, Kelly and I would seek out successful people in the industry. And we would ask if we could go talk to them. And so we talked to several people. And every time we would walk away with some really good pearls of wisdom that we could apply to what we were doing, and we definitely made pivots based on some of those conversations we had. And then at the same time, there were a lot of people that said, ‘you should go be made overseas,’ so we didn't listen to everything,” says Loyd.
For JJwinks, the ladies stood strong on a few key aspects of their business, like manufacturing in LA and championing sustainable practices.
JJwinks has a full range of classy loungewear in a variety of fabrics and fits. Check out the full collection on their website.
The JJwinks store is located at 924 Avocado Avenue, Newport Beach, Corona Del Mar.
Photography by: Courtesy of JJwinks