In all of 2017, feminine product maker Thinx did "almost $50 million in revenue," CEO Maria Molland tells CNBC Make It.
Of course, Thinx is incredibly niche — it sells washable "period-proof" underwear (designed to be a replacement for panty liners and a back up for tampons and menstrual cups). It says the underwear, which cost $24 to $39, can do the work of two tampons. Training shorts, leotards and unitards that serve the same purpose sell for $65, $60 and $85, respectively. Thinx also sells "pee-proof" underwear (its Icon line), which it says hold up to 8 teaspoons of urine and run from $28 to $39 a pair.
But given that Amazon is "the everything store," including many third-party vendors and its own private label brands, how does a smaller more specialized direct-to-consumer e-commerce brand survive in an online retail industry dominated by Amazon?
"I do believe that Amazon will pretty much copy — if they would like — any product out there," Molland tells CNBC Make It. But "what really is the key to our success in an 'Amazon world' is building a brand that gives a sense of community and experience and [a feeling] that you're part of a larger movement. Amazon doesn't do that, right?"