In our long-running series “How Do I Make It,” we talk to people who make a living in the fashion and beauty industry about how they break into and succeed.
Commando and CEO Creo Bryan never really considered working on fashion design, let alone working in the underwear market. She studied business communication at Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts, internships with CNN and Senator George Mitchell, and eventually worked in financial public relations. Then, on September 11, 2001, it happened. The next day, O’Brien stepped out of her office and left her successful career as a vice president of financial public relations at Edelman.
“I did this at the time, because as part of my job, I read three or four newspapers a day. I was at CNBC all day, I just didn’t want to revisit September 11 again and again,” she explained. “When I look back and see it, the truth is that I was burned down. Now is the time for me to start a new chapter. It just allows me permission. If you are good at something, it does not mean that you are not on other things. It will do very well. Sometimes people just stay on the road they are on because it is working for them, they are afraid that if they do other things, they may not succeed.”
O’Brien moved back to Vermont to regroup. She always felt that something was missing from the underwear market, and she began to think she could fill the gap in the women’s underwear drawer. A few years later, the commando team was born.
Today, the commando team sells not only seamless underwear, but also sports tights and comfortable fashion stretch pants. It has also become one of the most popular lingerie brands in the fashion industry, appearing on the red carpet and the runway season after season. O’Brien chats with us about how she turns the commando into the current powerhouse. Why is the underwear world completely different from what she started with, and why chapters in life are essential.
When I grow up, I always feel that I can do whatever I want to do and do what I want to do. I am a young, energetic woman; I am an athlete, but I am also a fashionista. I am the captain of the basketball team and the football team. When you go to the competition, one of the things you have to do is to put on clothes. I always wear a purple water pump and a crazy yellow skirt, or very much for me. Interesting things. I always hope that there is something that I think is unique to me. I used fashion as a way of expression at the beginning.
The other thing I thought of was: After September 11th, we had to leave our apartment, what do you do, what do you take? Most people take pictures; I didn’t have children at the time, so I grabbed my Prada techno pants and ran out the door. When you like, you know that you like fashion, “Hey, my God, what can I not have? My Prada pants!”