When Molly Borman got the idea for disposable stick-on fake nipples, it was more as a fun fashion accessory than a feminist statement. But that changed as soon as they hit the market.
After working at Ralph Lauren for five years, Borman noticed the trend of what she refers to as “hard nipples on demand” and liked their look. She spent most of 2016 getting everything together, from creating different prototypes to designing marketing materials to getting business insurance, and got her product — Just Nips — on the market in January 2017.
The timing was perfect. She immediately sold out because people purchased them to wear for the Women’s Marches occurring throughout the United States at the end of that month. After restocking, they sold out again for Valentine’s Day.
To clarify: Borman didn’t advertise the product to be used at the Women’s Marches — that happened organically. “People thought it was a cheeky, funny, subtle way to say ‘I’m a feminist,’” she explains. “A lot of people wanted to march in them, but I didn’t have enough.”
Borman says she was “a little overwhelmed at the reaction” — especially from all the women who reached out about their personal breast cancer stories and how the product has helped them in their recovery process.
“Women reached out with stories about not having nipples after breast reconstruction — something I didn’t really know much about,” she explains.
Borman estimates that about half of the Just Nips customers have gone through breast reconstruction and the other half uses the product for fashion. She also donates Just Nips to various cancer centers and doctors around the country to give to patients free of charge, giving out more than 1,000 pairs already.
“I also think of it like mascara for your boobs — it’s something you do that enhances the breast area and then you move on,” she adds.
Just Nips come in two sizes, “cold” and “freezing,” and in two colors, cream and cocoa. There are currently three varieties available: Just Nips Original (single-use stick-on nipples, $9.99 for one pair), Just Nips Swim (single-use bathing suit-ready stick-on nipples, $9.99 for one pair) and Just Nips Reusable (multi-wear stick-on nipples, $24.99 for one pair). The products are all made of medical-grade adhesive and are safe to use on an incision if the user has gone through surgery.
“My biggest goal is to grow the brand into more than just a product,” Borman says. “I want to focus on education and early breast cancer detection.”
To accomplish this, Borman now includes information cards from the Keep A Breast Foundation that provides instructions to download their self-check app with monthly reminders encouraging the importance of early detection and overall breast health.
Just Nips is also matching their sales with donations to women who have undergone breast reconstruction as well as continuing to give the products directly to any breast cancer survivors who request them.
For the customers who have undergone a mastectomy the stick-on nipples are a “low-cost, low-risk experience,” Borman says. People can use them if they want to, or skip them if they’re not into that look on a particular day.
Despite its body-positive message, the product has faced some criticism.
“It’s definitely controversial — it’s not a pair of socks,” Borman notes. Specifically, her Instagram posts are constantly being flagged despite the fact that she says that her content is primarily PG.
Possibly the most famous pop-culture examples of fake nipples is in an episode of Sex and the City, where Samantha gets a pair that Miranda later tries. Borman says the show was not an influence in her decision to create Just Nips.
“The ones that were used on Sex and the City were ugly and creepy,” she says. “They are like a rubbery fake skin material with veins.”
That was not the look she was going for with Just Nips. After talking to a lot of women who went through breast cancer, she found out fake nipples, like the ones featured in Sex and the City are too realistic and remind them of being sick. That gave her the idea of making the design look cute and whimsical, bearing little resemblance to an actual nipple, but rather being a type of fun accessory.
“It’s a total 180 from when I thought this was for fashion,” Borman says. “Now that I know that women do need it — it’s global. I’m happy to help.”