Several years ago, Lisa Mullan found herself disappointed with the choices for women’s underwear: many were uncomfortable, impractical, or just plain ugly. Mullan had studied business, so in 2015 she and Natalia Martorell, one of her best friends from college who studied fashion, got together and came up with an underwear business that would provide comfortable, functional, and fun-to-wear underwear for women, by women, called Uwila Warrior.
Originally called “The Intelligence Bureau,” Mullan said the website was getting all kinds of traffic unrelated to the business. They figured out that “The Intelligence Bureau” was also the name of an intelligence agency in Pakistan, so they decided to change the name to “Uwila Warrior,” and continued to use their trademarked owl logo. The owl represents a woman who is smart and at a wise point in her life—“crushing it,” as Mullan describes, and “Uwila” means “owl” in Old German, so they thought it would be a perfect fit.
Uwila Warrior had been operating online and out of the fifth floor of Mullan’s Beacon Hill home for a little over two years, as well as sold through Free People and Neiman Marcus online, but Mullan and her team decided it was time to expand the business and create a space where they can interact with their customers. On Oct. 17, Uwila Warrior held a grand opening celebration for their new space at 15 Charles St. The front of the space is the retail portion, and the back is an office/customization space where customers can have their underwear personalized.
When entering the space, customers are greeted with racks of brightly colored panties and camisoles, available for them to touch, feel and make their own.
Uwila Warrior’s mission is to create “really comfortable, functional underwear for all women,” Mullan said, adding that they have spent a year investing money into sizing. Most of the underwear is offered in sizes XS-3X. “Every woman has a right to have a really good pair of underwear,” she said. “You realize how frustrating it is when underwear is designed for one shape.”
The underwear is targeted at women ages 30-60, but there are plenty of women outside that range who are interested in the brand. Mullan said the brand is meant for women who have a disposable income and “just want really comfortable underwear” after a life change such as having a child, getting married, or getting a new job.
Uwila Warrior offers several kinds of underwear, including Soft Silk, seamless, thongs, and camisoles. They are made from natural fabrics such as silks, which Mullan said stays drier than cotton. None of Uwila Warrior’s styles are shape wear—“Spanx has got that covered,” she said, but their seamless styles are perfect for leggings and working out.
“People can add fun embellishments,” Mullan added, which has become even easier with the new retail space. “It’s all about making stuff that you’re excited to wear for yourself.”
“Other stores and people in this neighborhood have been so helpful,” Mullan said of the business. “This community has really rallied around us.” When looking for spaces to operate out of, Mullan said that because of the deep community support, she really wanted to stay in Beacon Hill. “When this little space opened up, it seemed like the perfect fit,” she said. “There’s a lot of good stuff that comes from being connected to your customer.”
Mullan and her team plan to have the store open seasonally when there is traffic in the neighborhood, and she has no aspirations to become a larger brick and mortar operation. She said she envisions using the retail space for collaborations with other brands. “Inclusivity is a big thing,” she said.
Mullan was also chosen as a 2019 Tory Burch Fellow for her innovation as a woman founder of a business. The Fellowship program recognizes women who are innovators and focuses on women entrepreneurs.
Mullan believes Uwila Warrior allows women to purchase products for themselves that are practical and feel good to wear—she no longer has to ask herself or her friends, “what’s up with the women’s underwear market?”