Simplifying health & wellness
Business View Magazine interviews Jordan Schindler, President of Nufabrx, for our focus on Innovations in U.S. Healthcare
Clothing can help insulate us from variations in the weather, serve as a powerful cultural signifier, or demonstrate that an individual is up to date with the latest fashion trends. But what if clothing could be used to deliver tangible improvements to our health? Nufabrx, an innovative smart materials company, is making that a reality by placing active medical ingredients within its HealthWear™ garments.
“Our mission as a company is all about simplifying health and wellness,” Jordan Schindler, President of Nufabrx, explains. “With our clothing, instead of having to take a pill, use a cream, or apply a patch, you can simply get up in the morning and get dressed. Our core technology enables the controlled delivery of vitamin supplements and medications through your clothing that remains effective through 25-plus wash cycles.”
Nufabrx’s clothing range allows for the release of topical analgesics, so it’s possible to administer pain relief in the most direct area of the body – whether that’s through a sock, a sleeve, or a back brace. “We’re creating a new category of clothing that we call ‘HealthWear™’,” Schindler continues. “So you’re not simply buying a garment based on the color, size, or brand but because of the health benefit.”
The genesis of Nufabrx originally came when Schindler was in college and he was told about the connection between bad skin and an individual’s pillowcase. That got him to think about the importance of the fabrics that stay in contact with your skin over a prolonged period of time. From there, it was a small transition to thinking about how to derive medical benefits from the clothes you wear.
“One of the biggest challenges in health and wellness is patient compliance,” Schindler says. “We are all busy people and it’s easy to forget to take our pills or apply our creams – and it’s hard to change consumer behavior. But, of course, we all get dressed every single morning, and the clothing that we put on is in contact with our skin all day. So HealthWear™ really is a perfect platform for improving wellness outcomes.”
The drug delivery system employed by Nufabrx works in a similar way to a transdermal patch. The item of clothing enables the delivery of a certain number of milligrams for every hour that an individual is wearing that particular garment. However, despite using analogous technology to that already on the market, there were still challenges to gaining regulatory approval for Nufabrx’s products. “There is no category for drug-infused garments,” Schindler notes. “So, regulatory approval all depends on what claims you’re making as a company and what active ingredients you’re putting in your garments. For example, a drug is going to be regulated very differently from a cosmetic product, like shea butter. But because we’re able to deliver the same dosage as any other topical analgesic, that’s the regulatory monograph we fall under.”
Once regulatory approval had been achieved, it wasn’t long before Nufabrx was gaining the attention of retailers in the U.S. Schindler relates, “We traveled down to Bentonville, Arkansas to speak with a buyer at Walmart and he immediately saw the huge correlation between people buying protective sleeves and individuals purchasing creams for joint pain. To him, putting the two things together just made sense. Today, we’re now present in 4,200 Walmart stores nationwide. We’ve also launched at CVS and Walgreens.”
Despite its country-wide appeal, Nufabrx is proud of its small-town roots. The company is based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, with its R&D taking place elsewhere in the state in the city of Conover. “While many companies choose to outsource their production, everything we do is made in the U.S.,” Schindler states. “We have 35 full-time employees, and then we have partners that do a lot of manufacturing on the garment side.”
Those employees are a diverse mix of drug delivery scientists and garment industry veterans. Schindler believes that his company is fortunate that its work is so unique, which helps attract some of the brightest minds in the industry. “We’ve been able to recruit a lot of really good people that are interested in building something from the ground up, building a new category of HealthWear™. You don’t often have pharmaceutical experts working with some of the best people from the textile industry or manufacturing sector. We offer a pretty unique opportunity.”
The culture at Nufabrx is also a major part of the company’s appeal to new recruits. Its values, or “core fibers” as they are called, revolve around always working with the brightest talent and, more importantly, having fun. The company has also seen its reputation bolstered lately by some good publicity. It was listed in the top 50 companies of Inc. 5000’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies. Nufabrx was also able to announce the recent completion of an oversubscribed $10 million Series A funding round.
This rapid growth comes as a result of Nufabrx’s technological innovation and its commitment to the highest regulatory standards. “We do our own cleanroom manufacturing, with everything completed to the same standard as you would expect from any other drug manufacturing company,” Schindler notes. “For example, our head of regulatory standards actually came out of the prescription drug industry working on hydrocodone tablets – that’s the level of rigor that we’ve had to implement into the textile supply chain.” Nufabrx also partners with a number of pharmaceutical companies directly to deliver the precise medical formulation into their garments.
Of course, Schindler admits that his company was unable to escape the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, Nufabrx was fortunate that it could transition some of its manufacturing to the creation of PPE face masks. “We created a reusable, antimicrobial, copper mask with shea butter for your skin,” says Schindler. “The mask offers protection and a moisturizing benefit, so it was nice to be able to have a positive impact there.”
The ability to rapidly pivot its production to support people in need during the pandemic is indicative of a company that is comfortable thinking outside the box. In coming up with its innovative solutions, however, Nufabrx is certainly indebted to the support of its partners, including Manufacturing Solutions Centre, a local non-profit incubator designed to promote and grow the domestic textile industry. “Southpaw Screen Printing and Embroidery has been another great resource for us in terms of the screen printing and heat seals for all the Nufabrx logos we use,” Schindler adds. “It’s great to be able to utilize a local partner – one that’s within 15 minutes of our location!”
Nufabrx will continue leveraging these partnerships to support its local community and deliver innovative products. In this vein, the company is about to launch its Maternity line, which will include bump shorts, bump leggings, and compression socks with shea butter moisturizer for targeted stretch mark reduction and moisturization of the lower legs. Looking further down the line, Nufabrx has a number of other interesting developments in the works.
“We have what we call the new fabrics active ingredient screening program,” Schindler explains. “And so we’ve basically got a periodic table of 40 different active ingredients that we’d like to bring to market. We’ll screen these ingredients to see which is likely to have the most value for people. In what ways do people struggle with patient compliance? Where can you have a more positive impact delivering ingredients through garments rather than using a cream or patch?”
Although Nufabrx’s work may sound complicated – and it certainly requires a great deal of technical expertise and innovative thinking – the company’s ethos is a straightforward one. Whether it’s for psoriasis, arthritis, or athlete’s foot, Nufabrx is determined to have a positive impact. At the end of the day, its work is all about simplifying health and wellness for its customers.
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AT A GLANCE
What: A textile-based drug delivery company
Where: Charlotte, North Carolina
CDGBrands – www.cdgbrands.com
CDG Brands extends its congratulations to Nufabrx and their entire leadership team. We are proud to collaborate with the Nufabrx, a true pioneer at the forefront of next generation fabric technologies.
CDG Brands is a multi-faceted apparel decorator providing value-add services to companies including Nufabrx. For more information: contact firstname.lastname@example.org.