FIGS: Disrupting the $10 Billion Dollar Medical Scrubs Industry
FIGS is transforming the medical scrubs category with apparel that is comfortable, stylish and practical.
FIGS is an excellent example of a company that is disrupting an established category and creating a win-win for their consumers, the healthcare professionals who are buying FIGS apparel instead of scrubs uniforms, and for their investors and share owners.
FIGS is a textbook case study of two entrepreneurs who are building a fast growing company, following proven leading to win leadership practices and playing to win strategies.
FIGS was founded in 2013 by two friends: Heather Hasson, who worked at Lululemon, and Trina Spears, who worked at Blackstone. Their objective was to disrupt the generic medical uniform category and transform what healthcare professionals choose to wear to work. Scrubs are big, boxy, ill-fitting, scratchy, generic, one design, one-shape-for-all uniforms.
Why wear scrubs, when you can wear FIGS?
What was winning? To create and design, manufacture and sell a dramatically better, significantly preferred alternative to scrubs — not to just make better scrubs.
There are 19 million healthcare workers in the US. That’s more than 10% of all US workers and a growing percentage of total employed workers. The US scrubs market is 10+ billion dollars in sales and 50+ billion dollars worldwide. Winning for Heather, Trina and FIGS was to disrupt and transform a large and growing market by making the current scrubs uniform product obsolete.
Where to play? First, they focused on who their target consumer is. Heather and Trina set out to learn more about healthcare professionals’ habits and practices as well as their needs and wants. They brought together fashion designers and medical professionals to design for their target audience of nurses and doctors.
They experimented with apparel they designed and sewed and sold out of the trunk of their car in hospital parking lots. Although they made a little product and sold a little, they learned a lot by getting direct feedback from consumers.
How to win. First and foremost, Heather and Trina zeroed-in on healthcare professionals preferred apparel: stylish designs made of fabrics and materials that were anti-microbial, odor-free and wrinkle free and garments that fit better, functioned well, looked and felt good.
Heather and Trina also found healthcare professionals preferred tops and bottoms with zippered pockets and easy to access space for tools like stethoscopes, scissors, smart phones and IDs. In addition, they were looking for pants that came with four-way stretch for comfort and movement.
The business model was also innovative for the medical apparel category. Design and sourcing were partnered and outsourced to quality partners. Marketing and selling were direct to consumer on the FIGS digital platform with a convenient, easy to use shopping experience.
The result of the new consumer preferred apparel and the unique online shopping experience was transformation. Sales surpassed $100 million in 2018, exceeded $260 million in 2020 and are projected to top $400 million in 2021. FIGS successfully IPO’d in June — making it one of the few companies that was generating not only strong revenue growth, but also strong cash flow, margins and profit when it went public.
Heather and Trina spotted an unarticulated and unmet consumer need. Healthcare workers needed and wanted much better designed, more stylish, much higher quality, much more professional apparel to look, feel and be their best at work every day.
In addition to addressing the most important playing to win strategic questions — what is winning, where to play and how to win — Heather and Trina demonstrated leading to win behaviors that can be difference makers. First and foremost, they envisioned a transformation of the scrubs healthcare uniform category. Then, they engaged directly and personally with their prospective consumers as well as with the key design and supply chain partner providers that would win with healthcare professionals.