This stylish, adaptive clothing was first imagined while our Founder and CEO Susanne Shoemaker watched a few senior women in the YMCA locker room struggle to dress after their swimming class.
Many were using a grabby stick device, a long reaching tool with pincers on the end to hold their underwear in the air as they guided their feet and legs through the leg-opening. Some didn’t use the unwieldy tool but instead relied on the assistance of a friend.
Susanne immediately thought, “There has to be an easier way for differently-abled people to get dressed.”
The problem that Susanne saw was not the lack of care, patience or determination these women had, the problem was their underwear. Standard underwear doesn’t allow a person to dress without having to sit down, balance on one leg, or bend at the knee or hip. Such movements can be challenging, whether due to permanent or temporary issue. UNDERCARE solves these challenges and allows both men and women to dress without stress.
Coming from a long line of successful engineers and a higher education in fine art focused on figurative drawing explains Susanne’s interest in solving the mobility issues of the struggling women.
“I started trying to spatially figure out a better design. I began cutting and sewing underwear together to develop a prototype. I went to department stores and bought two pair of the same style, same size. I combined the two pair into one. Instead of requiring one to put on underwear one leg at a time, you simply wrap and fasten UNDERCARE with soft and flexible hook and loop. We think of ourselves as the anti-Spanx. Rather than squeezing into your underwear, UNDERCARE wraps you in a hug, kind of like putting on a bathrobe. Who says you need to put on your underwear the old-fashioned way?”
On March 2013, Susanne obtained her first patent for UNDERCARE. She has earned an additional three patents.
To assist her in building the company from the ground up, Susanne availed herself to all of the available entrepreneurial assistance in Westchester County, New York, where she lives. She worked with SCORE | Westchester, Women’s Enterprise Development Center, Small Business Development Center, IBM Mentorship Program and MasterCard Pro Bono Challenge. She has won numerous awards, including being a Top Ten Finalist in the SBA’s InnovateHer Competition in 2016. She was invited to the White House roundtable on “Women and Innovation.” In February 2018, she completed the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Program.
As Baby Boomers come of age and age spans lengthen, an age-wave silver tsunami approaches. In addition to more seniors than ever before in the history of the world, there is also a shortage of caregivers. Anything that lightens the load of caregiving is important. Additionally, it is time to address the needs of the underserved community of the differently-abled. Adaptive clothing currently on the market tends to be unimaginative, non-stylish, bulky, and it is hard to find. UNDERCARE provides a way to dress easily and stylishly with garments that are safe and easy to use. It is designed to work around the body instead of the other way around.
In modern culture, underwear design and marketing is very sexualized but UNDERCARE does not want to objectify your body! First order of the day is to look and feel good for You. Our fashion inclusive product line aims to provide what is truly important: hygiene, comfort and a foundation for confidence through dignity, independence, and safety in self-dressing.
It didn’t take long to realize that UNDERCARE’s innovative design could be applied to outerwear. The product line has expanded to include bathing suits and athletic shorts in additional to briefs and boxers.
And we’re off! (or on!) UNDERCARE, wrap-happy underwear.
Susanne Leary Shoemaker
UNDERCARE Founder, CEO