Getting cheeky: St. Louis friends start Pandemic Panties Co.

Pandemic Panties Co. is donating half the profits from sales of their pandemic day-of-the-week underwear to three nonprofits, including the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry. 

By Ellen Futterman, Editor-in-Chief

Maybe you’re like me these days. You get out of bed, stumble to the bathroom half asleep, take care of business, stare into the medicine cabinet mirror and ask yourself, “What day is it today?”

Among the many things this pandemic has made difficult is remembering what day of the week it is because there is little to distinguish Monday from Wednesday from Saturday when you’re basically stuck at home. Such a phenomenon — call it COVID confusion — was not lost on Lynne Kipnis and Nancy Jones, who recently started a business called Pandemic Panties Co.

The two are part of a group of friends who Zoom regularly. During one of their Zoom-a-thons in April, after a month or so of sheltering in place, one friend misspoke the day of the week. That led the rest of the group to wonder what day it actually was. Then Jones asked whether anyone remembered days of the week underpants that were popular when they were girls.

“Nancy did research and said you can still buy days of the week underwear,” said Kipnis, who lives in Clayton and belongs to Temple Israel. “And I said, ‘Why would you want the days of the week? It doesn’t make any difference what day it is. We should just make up our own names.’ ”

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

And that’s exactly what they did.

Instead of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so on, each pair of underpants is emblazoned with a pandemic day of the week  thought up by Kipnis and Jones. 

Let’s see, there’s Today, This Day, That Day, What Day, Another Day, Who Cares Day, WTF Day. When I reminded them that WTF Day might be a little racy for the PG Jewish Light, the women laughed and without missing a beat blurted, “It stands for Wednesday/Thursday/Friday.” 

The Pandemic Panties, made from Hanes Microfiber underwear, come in two styles – hipster or thong and run in four sizes from small to extra large. A set of seven hipsters, with each pandemic day, costs $60, including shipping, while a “weekender” set of two pairs goes for $22. 

Kipnis and Jones are donating half of the profits from sales among three organizations: the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry, the Second Harvest Food Pantry in Santa Cruz, Calif., where Jones moved a few years ago after leaving St. Louis, and the Equal Justice Initiative. 

So far, they’ve sold about 500 pairs. 

That these women chose underwear for their foray into entrepreneurialism is kind of remarkable given their real-life careers. Kipnis, who retired a few years ago, has a doctorate in clinical psychology and was in private practice for 32 years. Jones, who is also retired, has a master’s degree in counseling and spent her working life facilitating career and leadership development programs. Both now actively volunteer. Kipnis is involved with the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis as well as Sharsheret and other nonprofits supporting women’s health.

“We always talked about how we wanted to do an entrepreneurial project that was different from anything we had ever done,” said Kipnis, who has known Jones for 30 years when she lived in Clayton. “Both Nancy and I had professions where confidentiality is key. So one of the things that’s weird about this is having a business we need to promote.”

To that end, the two opened an Etsy shop to sell the panties ( Kipnis’ adult children helped them set up social media accounts and Venmo, while Jones’ daughter, a professional photographer, took the product shots.

The women also contracted with STL Style, owned by Jeff and Randy Vines, to do the printing on the panties. 

“When we first started talking with Jeff, he asked what we were going to be using as a distribution center,” Kipnis recalled. “That cracked us up because my dining room table is the distribution center for the hipsters and Nancy’s dining room table is the distribution center for the thongs.”

Business plan or not, the two seem to be winging it just fine. Each pair of underwear comes with a promise: 

“These Pandemic Panties will put a smile on your cheeks!” 

And directions: 

“Put on one leg at a time.”

Follow Pandemic Panties Co. on Instagram @pandemicpantiesco.