Anyone with boobs knows that they're a lot like cars: Without the proper coverage, some situations can go from unlucky to downright disastrous. The insurance to keeping unruly twins to behave? Boob tape — a fashion hack that superstar stylists and dressing pros regularly count on to ensure the most malfunction-free cleavage moment.
But as designer-turned-L.A. beauty editor-turned-entrepreneur Stephanie Montes discovered, not all bosom bandages are created equal. After falling in love with a plunging neckline jumpsuit, she found that there wasn't yet a product that spoke to women of all body sizes, skin tones, and backgrounds. Enter Nue, her new brand of body tape that officially launched online this week.
"So, I've never had a perky pair. Even at 18, 20, 22 — whenever your boobs are supposed to be perky — they just weren't," Montes explains to UncoverLA. "I was convinced I needed a breast lift! I'm cool with my C cups, but if they could only sit higher."
Priced at $25 per box, Nue comes in light, medium, and dark shades and is both water- and sweat-proof. The flexible tape stretches as you move while staying put and offers the perfect support for even the most creative silhouettes (check out its handy online outfit calculator) — and it won't rip your nipples off during removal, either. The brand's supportive mission goes beyond fashion: Nue also donates proceeds from every single sale to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Previously the beauty director at The Zoe Report (she's also written for Allure, Byrdie, Elle, Women's Health, and many others) and long before that, a designer for Nike (more on that later!), Montes hit a minor bump in the road last November when Kim Kardashian West announced that her shapewear brand, Skims, was also launching body tape. It came just a few months before the beauty editor was ready to drop her own big news — but rather than let KKW slow her down, Montes decided that she was "up for the challenge." (We'd like to point out that Nue is easier on the wallet and supports a charitable cause.)
View this post on Instagram
I wasn't ready to announce this publicly, but here goes nothing. Months ago, I found a hole in the market and set out to fill it. With that, Nue was born. It's pronounced like, "new" and is the French word for nude. . After secretly working with manufacturers, a designer, lawyers, etc. I set out to launch a breast tape—one that not only lifts and works as a bra alternative but one that comes in multiple skin tones. The current "nude" tape on the market leaves a group of already underserved women without a solution. . I created a range of "light," "medium," and "dark" shades and put them into production. The tape is latex-free, hypoallergenic, WATERPROOF, and easy to remove! Because it comes in a roll, you can cut strips in any length to fit your body and play with placement to pair with any neckline. You can lift up, tape them together for more cleavage, or even push them outward for a reduction of sorts. Boob jobs are expensive and painful. Plus, your body is perfect the way it is, but there's nothing wrong with wanting your clothes to fit better. . And because this is bigger than just my needs, I decided to team up with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and offer a percentage of proceeds from every purchase. Finally, it was about to be the only one on the market to finally cater to that underserved group of women. However, today, Kim Kardashian announced that she is releasing the exact same product under her Skims line. I was going to do a big reveal in a few months but I kind of feel like Taylor Swift when Kanye ran up on stage. Naturally, I'm crushed, but I'm up for the challenge. Nue launches January 2020. Keep an eye out for it and all the body-inclusive, shade-serving marketing that is to come! Until then, follow @the_brand_nue ???????????????????????? and peep my new bio! ❤️
We sat down with Montes to find out more about what it was like to go from being a Nike designer to a beauty editor, some of the best business advice she's received, her thoughts on going up against the most famous reality star in the world, and what makes Nue truly stand out from the rest of the boob tape pack. Keep reading below, and shop Nue online here.
We know you had another professional life before you became a beauty editor. Can you tell us more about your career path?
I feel like I've had a few professional lives before becoming a beauty editor. I went to the Art Institute of California—Hollywood and studied fashion design. For three years, I sketched collections, made patterns, sewed garments, and even went on to present a full collection in L.A. Fashion Week. During my time as a student, I also made it a point to intern anywhere and everywhere. After stalking Condé Nast for a semester, I finally got the call for an internship at Women's Wear Daily, which led to a second internship at Allure.
After college, I became a contracted seamstress for the Nike Sportswear brand. Hired onto a team of three (two graphic designers and one seamstress), we were tasked with an amazing opportunity to create custom one-off pieces for Nike-sponsored athletes. Stationed in the Montalbán Theatre, we were basically given free rein to be creative and turn out some fantastic pieces, including customized socks. Which brings me to my next chapter. After Nike shut down their bespoke operations, I became a women's sock designer. I think you can still find some of my work at Kohl's!
But just like every other fashion girl, I always had a side hustle. While I was designing, I still kept in contact with my internship boss from Allure, Kelly Atterton, who gave me published assignments from time to time. She's someone who I still consider a mentor today. During the week, I designed socks, but my weekends were packed with salon appointments and spa services I reviewed for the famous Allure Directory. Doing both gave me the opportunity to take two careers for a test drive, and about eight months later, I decided editorial was more my speed. Designing was fun, but unless you own your own fashion house, it's much more production-driven and less creative than people might think.
So, I reached out to Kelly (again) and asked her if she knew of any full-time editorial openings. With a recommendation from her, I was offered my first beauty editor job!
What experiences (no matter how embarrassing or hilarious!) inspired the "a-ha" idea to create Nue?
One day in a dressing room, I tried on this super chic jumpsuit with a high waist and plunging neckline. It was too good not to get, even if my boobs didn't look so hot in it. So, right there in the store's fluorescent-lit mirror, I made the conscious decision to take the jumpsuit and get my hands on some duct tape. Duct tape has long been a celebrity red-carpet boob hack. Kim Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen, and Cardi B are just a few who have Instagrammed it. So, I tried it.
Can I just tell you, my boobs looked fantastic. They've never sat up this high (not even in a push-up bra) and I didn't have annoying straps peeking out of my jumpsuit. But the cons were significant enough for me to swear off duct tape forever! The tape crinkled under, which made my boobs look lumpy. It didn't stretch, so certain movements would pull and pinch. And holy hell! Removal was no joke! It hurt so bad that my nipples were sore for days and my chest was left raw and red. My skin was so itchy and irritated, I had to pick up a bottle of calamine lotion!
Desperate to go braless in public for the second time in my life, I started researching breast tapes. To my surprise, it existed already! But the brands I encountered looked sketchy — their photography either felt weirdly sexualized or was being modeled on young, thin models with boobs half my size. Nothing about their marketing spoke to me. And one thing that stuck with me was none of these brands offered product in a variety of skin tones. They all seemed to be available in black, white, and "nude," a light, peachy shade. It's impossible to wear white under white and have it not show. And wearing a "nude" shade that doesn't match your skin tone isn't much better.
I identified a hole in the market — boob tape for women of all shades — and thought "why not fill it?"
How did your past personal and professional experiences shape Nue?
As a beauty editor, I realized how much the industry lacks diversity and inclusivity. Although brands are making strides to become more "woke," we still have a long way to go. One of my biggest titles was held at an online publication that (at the time) lacked both diversity and inclusivity across the board. Being behind the scenes and reading comments from frustrated readers was so enlightening. I too was once a frustrated reader. I'm a proud Latina with a curvy figure. I never felt spoken to in magazines or marketing campaigns. And against my better judgment, I stopped speaking to women like me, my friends, and myself in my work. That already-underserved market of women who look and feel like me was becoming more underserved — that remains one of my biggest regrets in this particular position.
So with Nue, I knew I couldn't make the same mistakes. I'm determined to cater to all different skin tones, body shapes, genders, and budgets, and I'm passionate about making everyone feel seen.
When I first began working on Nue, I was hit with big minimums and even bigger invoices. Starting a company is expensive, but the one thing I refused to skimp on was product shades. My manufacturer and some friends suggested I start with one or two shades and roll out more as I saved up more money or grew the business. This was never an option for me. I wanted to cater to everyone, right out of the gate. It took a bit longer to release, but I wouldn't change a thing.
What's been some of the best business advice that you've received while creating Nue?
Know the market, but don't get too hung up on the competition. When I first heard Kim Kardashian was launching a similar product, I considered quitting while I was ahead. I felt like David against Goliath and there was no way I would win this one. Luckily, I have a ton of brilliant female founder friends who reached out with pep talks. They all said the same thing. Nue has its own value, its own goals, and its own aesthetic. We have a similar product but we come from very different beginnings and views.
One thing that stuck with me was, "one person does not own the market." At the end of the day, you have Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Nike and Adidas, Ford and Chevy. It's impossible to own a single market, and healthy competition is good for any business.
The hardest part was to keep an eye out, stay up to date on shifts in the market, but not get discouraged by the growth of competitors. There's enough of the pie for all of us — but establishing what's different about Nue is most important.
We're accessible luxury with humble beginnings. We speak to women just like us. We celebrate all forms of diversity and inclusivity. And we give back — a percentage of proceeds from every sale is donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
What are your plans in the near future for Nue?
We've already had some interest from retail and agencies to help us expand, but the next big opportunity has to be a perfect fit. We're so new (pun intended) — we really want to get to know our customer better and create tons of education surrounding our Boob Job in a Box™. And we have some more product ideas in the works, all in the body adhesive space!