Shibue Couture was born out of necessity when all of the undergarments Jenny Buettner tried were showing underneath her sleek silk gown. Every product on the market showed lines somewhere, whether it be across the hips from panties that touted “no lines”, or shape wear that pushed bulges out over the hips and the thighs.
After much trial and error, the No-Line Strapless Panty was born! Since the launch of its initial product Shibue has expanded to include new and innovate products that solve fashion dilemmas. Shibue Couture prides itself on Women of all ages and sizes are encouraged to experience the new freedom offered by Shibue´s products!
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Working as a real estate agent for nearly 20 years and juggling being a mother of three, I didn’t know the first thing about the intimate apparel industry. Also, I hadn't taken any business classes, which made the idea of becoming an entrepreneur even more of a challenge.
The only thing I knew was that I was not going to let all the ‘nay sayers' turn me away from what I knew was the missing link in lingerie. On top of that, I can’t stand being sucked in and not able to breath in girdles and I won’t go without panties!
I was sure I was not alone….
As I started down this path and the idea of starting a new business in 2003 with a new revolutionary product, I realized that I would need to protect my IP and file a patent. I reached out to several attorneys and paid them lots of money for them to tell me that what I wanted could not be done because they thought I was crazy. They said I was basically just modifying a current design and it was not worth wasting my time.
Never deterred - and now even more determined I started reading “how to” books on new business start-ups, patents and trademarks. Once I had convinced myself these attorneys were wrong, I reached out to a new real estate client of mine (and now a dear girlfriend) who is in one of the leading patent offices in the country and somehow I convinced her to help me. To keep costs down, she helped me write the patent and the claims and we submitted our patent in 2005. After 5 years battling the USPTO my patent was granted and then we successfully trademarked the name Shibue Couture!
For months I researched lingerie and bathing suit manufacturers through friends, clients and on the internet. I contacted anybody and everybody who I knew in the apparel industry. On my off time, I would drive to Santa Ana, Los Angeles or Vernon in search of anyone who could sew begging and pleading for them to help me make my prototypes for my idea. They would always tell me that they could not risk stopping large production orders for a “not-even-started-up-company” and they would shun the idea, not to mention they thought my panties “made no sense, and would never sell.” Finally, I won the heart of a sweet lady who turned me on to a man that convinced one of his companies he deals with to help me…phew!
Even though the prototypes were not the intended end version of our product, we needed to see if the concept would catch on. In the beginning, our product was rough and our patterns were even rougher!
It didn’t matter… we were on our way!
Because the “strapless panty” was such a new concept, we only made a small run and decided to launch at the largest retail show in Las Vegas, “Magic.” We were so new at that time we really could not get the panties made the way you see them today. Everyone said, “What we wanted could not be done”, so we used a medical double-sided tape to hold them onto the body. This concept was terribly impractical because if you had to go the restroom you had to change the tape, so replacement tape was always necessary and needed to be on hand. Also we were a cut and sewn product, not a seamless panty as you see today.
Even with the tape issue, we were moderately successful in Las Vegas and since I was feeling so good about the “Magic” expo, I decided to go to NYC for a bridal show! From there we met a large company that wanted to license our Strapless Panty concept from us. Wow! In such a short time we had one of the largest lingerie manufacturers want to license our product! That sounded great to me, so I said yes!
After 6 months of inferior product coming across my desk…I was extremely frustrated. They told me that what I wanted could not be done! For about a half of second I was deflated…then I went to their competitor hoping for a different answer. Unfortunately they could not make my panties either and they made it VERY clear that if they could not do it, then it could not be done.
Since I am one to never give up, I went to another leading intimate apparel company that dealt primarily with silicone adhesive products and seamless garments. By now they had seen me at enough shows to know I was determined, so they said they would try to help me. Once again, I was told that what way I wanted could not be done!
I had finally had it with all the major manufacturers!
I knew it could be done and since I was the one who believed in it, I was going to have to be the one to do it!
Unfortunately, all these manufacturers didn’t know how to think outside the box or ask the right questions! Which in hindsight was a good thing because it led me to become my own manufacturer. After a year of working with engineers overseas, sleepless nights, working 7 days a week, bills piling high and working my way through the process of silicone applications, patterns, sizing, fabrics and packaging………… the Shibue Strapless Panty was born!
I really didn’t know anything about naming a company EXCEPT that whatever you name it, it should not offend someone anywhere in the world because that could kill your company. So with that in mind, I thought I would combine the first three letters of my maiden name “Shipley” and the first three letters of my married name “ Buettner”, and call my company SHIBUE Couture. Once I had convinced myself that it was clever enough to start the ball rolling as the parent company, I started doing internet searches for it’s translation and found that it means “understated elegance” in Japanese…Jackpot! Plus, it did not have an offensive meaning in other languages!
As for the name of my newly redefined panty we affectionately called it the “strapless panty”. However somewhere along the line we started calling it the “Shibue”.
We would say things like, “Are you wearing a Shibue?” or “She needs a Shibue?” and “She should’ve Shibue’d!”… and the list goes on!
Typically panties and thongs do not need instructions and do not need to be in any type of sealed bag or box but with hygiene as my top priority and with the possibility of dirty hands touching our panties and adhesive, I needed to make sure we kept our products sanitary. Additionally, I wanted to convey what the product was on the cover of the package.
I wish I could say I got it right the first time, but the initial package was construed as being to sexy and bulky! So then we went to a slightly modified, more sophisticated version of the same look but in a more modern and streamlined package.
It was better, but it was still deemed too sexy!
Currently I have a cartoon version of a girl on the front of the package that seems to be more readily accepted.
It would be nice if the current package could live on as it is now…but I know different! We will forever be modifying and redefining the packaging as we have continued to redefine panties!
With a very limited budget and at times no budget at all… I hit the road! I squeezed my way backstage into every fashion show I could get into to get Shibue on the models and into the designers’ hands! I would introduce myself to any press or publicist I could find, constantly slapping a panty on any wrist or hairy arm available! I reached out to PETA and continue to donate products for the “naked campaign” organically getting Shibues onto the stars who posed for PETA, while also contributing to a good cause. For the three years I traveled all across the world exposing Shibue to anyone and everyone and women would ask where they could buy them…at the time it was really through our web site.
We had a major break with a master distributor who shared our vision and they launched. Then we had one of Italy’s biggest stars wear our panty under her dress on stage for the San Remo Music Festival and she flashed Shibues in front of 15 million people and our panties went viral in Europe. In conjunction with those efforts and our new PR team amazing things are happening!
It’s been 3 years since the formal launch of starting Shibue, and everyday we strive to perfect and redefine the undergarment market with better solution products to offer the world! Shibue has become the secret to Hollywood actresses, models, designers, stylists and the everyday woman. Shibue’s have been a “must have” on the set of True Blood, Spartacus, the Walking Dead, Magic City and more! Shibue is a woman owned business that’s constantly updating and creating new and innovative products for women. We have a variety of products to offer, and we sell Shibue in thousands of stores across the US, Japan, Europe and in the U.K.