In 2018, Xenia Chen, who, at the young age of 25, started the brand THREADS with $10,000 of her own savings out of frustration that she was unable to find high-quality and affordable tights for work, Threads has since won the “Best Tights” title by THE KIT magazine and the “Most Flattering Tights” by Good Housekeeping. It was also voted the “Best in Legwear in Canada” award by Best of Intima.
It wasn’t necessarily an easy market to break into but Chen was determined to create what she believed many wanted and needed. Every product that Threads puts out is designed using real crowdsourced input and feedback. They also use a “comfort first approach.” From hugging in all the right places to its enhanced leg length and its reinforced toe, Threads has thousands of 5-star reviews, with many customers claiming “these are the best tights I’ve ever worn” and expressing they’ve been converted over from industry incumbents such as Wolford and Falke.
The young entrepreneur was driven to create what she felt was the best in the marketplace.

How did she do it? We were inspired to learn more from her experience…

What challenges did you think you would face, and then actually faced as being young AND female starting a business?

Xenia: I started the business with no prior experience or connections in the textile and fashion industry, so I knew it would be a challenge to learn about everything and also establish key relationships with manufacturers and suppliers to get things going. But I do believe that what you don’t know can be an asset, as you’re forced to think about things from a blank slate, versus doing things the way it’s always been done.

The actual challenges faced span beyond those initial challenges and are constantly changing as your business grows and evolves. The nature of entrepreneurship is that nothing is constant and you’re forced to evolve. I wouldn’t say being female has made building Threads more difficult than it would’ve been.

Did you ever have moments of personal doubt or fear — and what helped you overcome that feeling?

Xenia: Absolutely. I still do have many moments of personal doubt or fear. I usually try to remind myself that growth comes from discomfort and just because something feels scary or uncomfortable, doesn’t mean that it is not the right decision or that you should avoid it. Looking back on my life, so many of the best things happened after trying times.

Who motivated you the most in your career choices? 

Xenia: I would have to say myself. Lots of people have inspired me along the way of course, but I believe motivation to make real change that aligns with what you really want out of life needs to come from within.

Was there anything someone has said to you that keeps you going?

Xenia: I love the quote by Theodore Roosevelt: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty”. I think about that a lot whenever I’m dealing with anything challenging, in business or in life.

What has been your proudest moment?

Xenia: Most recently, the birth of my first child in November 2023!

Wow! Congrats! That’s so amazing and life changing. What advice do you have for other young women who want to start a business?

Xenia: Make sure you’re solving a problem and you’re providing a good or service that people need, not just one that you want to sell. Other than that, I would say to think of building a business as a long-term game. Ask yourself, “Can I see myself doing this for the next 5-10 years?”. Of course there are exceptions but more often than not, that is how long it takes (at least) to build a strong business that stands the test of time.

What does work/life balance mean to you?

Xenia: I don’t believe it’s reasonable to expect to achieve work/life balance equilibrium every single day, but I like to think about it over the course of a longer stretch of time (like a year). For example, Q4 is usually super hectic for our business, so I’m working a ton and not finding as much time for other things. But usually that means the workload in the summer is lighter and there’s less happening, so I’m able to spend more time with friends and family and other personal pursuits.

And finally, what’s on the horizon for you?

Xenia: I’m really looking forward to growing our business and adding additional products that people want and love. We’ve been putting a big focus on the wholesale side of our business recently so I’ve been excited about that too. Other than that, I’m looking forward to the start of this new chapter and adventure of being an entrepreneur AND a mom.