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UConn MBA Student Launching Lingerie Company That Shuns Toxic Chemicals, Appeals to Health-Conscious Consumers



Christina Phillips was horrified when she discovered that toxic and dangerous chemicals are used to manufacture women’s bras and underwear.

Who would suspect that formaldehyde, pesticides, petroleum, dyes, parabens and “forever chemicals’’ are found in the creation of most popular brands of lingerie?

Phillips, a UConn MBA candidate, is setting out to change that with her lingerie startup called “Puure.’’ She hopes to have her line of organic, non-toxic underwear available in the marketplace in 2024.

“There’s a silent threat beneath our clothing. It is a huge problem that scares me,’’ Phillips says. “I think millennial women are enlightened about healthy eating and healthy living and they’re concerned about environmental toxins. They want to make healthy decisions about their bodies. They have no tolerance for greenwashing. They seek brands that share the values that they do.’’


Her target customer is health-conscious Black women between the ages of 25 and 45, who are trying to optimize their reproductive health.

Nearly a quarter of young Black women have uterine fibroid tumors, as compared to just 6 percent of white women. Fibroids are benign tumors in the muscle wall that can be painful and cause a host of health problems, including interfering with fertility.

Phillips Brings a Wealth of Knowledge, Experience to Her Company

Phillips recently participated in an eight-week business accelerator, called Summer Fellowship. Sponsored by the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CCEI), the program helps UConn-affiliated entrepreneurs with everything from legal concerns to finding financing sources.

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At the conclusion of the program, Puure was one of six startups selected to compete in the Wolff New Venture Competition, the School of Business’ pinnacle entrepreneurship challenge, in October. Puure will compete for a share of $50,000 in business funding.


In addition to her MBA degree, which she plans to complete in spring 2025, Phillips brings a strong background in textiles and retail experience to her startup. In fact, this is not her first business venture.

Phillips started her career in sales for a home textiles company that sold bedding and bath products. There she became familiar with fabrics, natural fibers, and sustainability issues. She went on to work in retail for a table linens/kitchen company, and then for a company that made sunglasses and optical frames.

She and her sister also had a special-occasion clothing line for six years and became knowledgeable about clothing and manufacturing.

“We didn’t know what we were doing initially, but we learned a lot about entrepreneurship, business development, and manufacturing practices,’’ says Phillips, a native of Westchester, N.Y. What they lacked was a solid foundation in building a business, and that’s something that Phillips gained through Summer Fellowship.

“I needed a foundation, including developing a core strategy and defining my competitive advantage,’’ she says. “The program mentors were great and welcomed us to bounce ideas off them. I learned how to organize the company financially. And I appreciated that all the other entrepreneurs were so like-minded and supportive.’’


Company to Offer Comfort, Style—and Wellness Advocacy

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Puure lingerie will be made of organic and non-toxic material, but Phillips is also creating garments that are comfortable, well-fitting and stylish. Her company will be very committed to advocating for feminine wellness. After mulling over the business idea for a few years, Phillips began to seriously explore her interest in the $80 billion lingerie business in February. By April, she had won CCEI’s Get Seeded competition and a $5,000, first-place prize.

Her company is off to a quick start. Phillips is already sourcing suppliers and deciding whether to manufacture in the United States or in Europe. She has a technical designer now and is looking to grow her team.

“Everything I do is very intentional, even down to the tags,’’ she says. “I want to partner with factories that are not only producing organic good but are practicing fair labor, are committed to sustainability, and are not solving one problem while creating another.’’

Because of their unique health needs, Phillips is focusing on Black women. She initially hopes to market directly to consumers and through pop-up events in New York and Connecticut, before partnering with retailers. Black women are very brand-aware, Phillips says, and she believes that interest in her products will grow rapidly.


The name Puure came from a friend in Summer Fellowship, after Phillips discovered that her first choice for a name was already trademarked.

“I like the name because it says what it is…pure, organic, not superficial. This isn’t a company that’s out to trick anyone,’’ she says. “Our goal is to produce something that is healthy and safe for women. Our core values are integrity, transparency and holding to what we claim.’’

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Accion MfB, Justrite launch credit purchase for customers



Accion Microfinance Bank and Justrite Superstore, an e-commerce firm, are partnering to enable customers to purchase goods from the store and pay back later.

This was disclosed at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding at Accion MfB’s office in Lagos State.

The duo said the partnership would encourage creditworthiness among the customers as only qualified customers would benefit from the initiative.

The Managing Director, Accion MfB, Taiwo Joda, said the initiative would enable customers to make purchases and pay back later.


While everyone was free to apply and benefit, he said only credit-worthy customers would be considered for it.

The managing director said, “We are launching a collaboration between Accion Microfinance Bank and Justrite. We will be providing the needed funds for customers of Justrite and our customers to be able to buy products from Justrite and pay later.

“We are providing the financial capacity for customers to walk into any Justrite shop and shop and some may decide to pay in a week, a month, or the next day. The initiative is like a credit wallet or loan.”

According to him, with the technology it has, it would look at the individual customers selected, their financial history, capability, and willingness to pay, and put all these together to see their creditworthiness.

He added, “Your credit history will show how much should be given to you. It is going to be for customers who qualify but everybody can apply.”

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Cross-Border Traders Abandon Businesses as Naira’s Value Plummets



The Nigerian Naira’s continuous decline in value has had a significant impact on cross-border traders and the economy. At the close of business last Friday, the Naira traded at N2,010 per CFA1000 in the West African sub-region.

Over the weekend, the Naira traded at N1,870 per CFA1000 in the open market, and just last Thursday, it was sold at N1,800 at one of Nigeria’s busiest land borders, the Seme-Krake border in Lagos.

This ongoing devaluation of the Naira has led many cross-border traders to abandon their businesses, and it has also had a ripple effect on the prices of commodities. For instance, petrol is now being sold at a record high of over CFA 1000 (approximately N2,010) per liter. This has made smuggling of petrol a lucrative business since the removal of subsidies in May.

Furthermore, the scarcity of CFA Francs in circulation has forced markets in Niger Republic’s bordering communities to transact in Naira. Residents and traders in these areas have reported that Naira is now the dominant currency in provinces bordering Nigerian states like Borno, Yobe, Kano, Katsina, and Sokoto.


Aminu Abdulkadir, a resident of Diffa, mentioned that the CFA Franc has become extremely scarce in Niger Republic since a military coup. He noted that Naira is widely used for transactions, except at filling stations and for government revenue remittances.

The scarcity of the CFA Franc has compelled many businesses to switch to the Naira, which is more readily available. Some traders have attributed the CFA Franc shortage to government officials’ hoarding and suspicions of external influence, while others claim that Nigerians are coming into Niger to exchange CFA Francs for dollars, causing the value of the Naira to drop further against the Franc.

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As a result of the Naira’s steep devaluation, cross-border businesses, such as the trade of rice and frozen poultry products, have become significantly less lucrative. The price of a 50kg bag of rice, previously selling for N9,000 to N12,500, has surged to about N35,000 across the Seme border. Similarly, a carton of frozen poultry products, previously priced at N8,000, is now being sold for N28,000.

Traders who used to benefit from cross-border business are now facing financial challenges, as the Naira’s value continues to deteriorate. John Ebube, a trader in Lagos, highlighted that the Naira’s decline started around two months ago, with the exchange rate plummeting from about N1200 to CFA 1000 in August to the current rate of N2,010.

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Lagos: Access Bank pledges sustainable growth via landmark projects



Leading financial institution, Access Bank PLC, has entered into an agreement with the African Export-Import Bank to support and finance key trade-enabling projects in Lagos State to the tune of $1.352 billion.

The signing ceremony took place on the sidelines of the 2023 AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum.

The Forum, which took place in Georgetown, Guyana, had in attendance key delegates, including the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank PLC, Herbert Wigwe; and President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Afreximbank, Benedict Oramah.

Commenting on the agreement, Wigwe said: “This landmark agreement underscores our commitment to fostering economic growth in Lagos, with a broader view to increase the continent’s trade potential.


“Through our strategic collaboration with Afreximbank, we are poised to drive more inter-African and intra-African trade and investment, creating a brighter future for all.

“In addition to supporting infrastructure, we will also be aiming to improve the levels of food sufficiency in Lagos as well as upscaling the volume of the State’s Internally Generated Revenue in order to spur the growth in its GDP and achieve wide scale economic resilience.

“Across the Access Group, we will continue to make deliberate efforts towards championing sustainable initiatives that will change the global narrative about Africa and Africans.”

Some of the legacy projects highlighted in the collaboration include the Fourth Mainland Bridge, second phase of the Blue Line Rail, Omu Creek Project, Lekki-Epe International Airport and Lagos Food Systems and Logistics Hub in Epe.

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Oramah said: “Afreximbank’s partnership with Access Bank to support Lagos State in executing these critical projects is part of our strategy for the African Sub-Sovereign Governments Network.


“The Network serves as yet another ingenious strategic initiative aimed at firmly establishing an intra-continental trade investment development frontier as it is only through supporting and strengthening trade and investment initiatives at such deeper levels of citizen administration, that Africa be able to fully realise the potential value of its much vaunted 1.3 billion population as a captivating common market for goods and services under AfCFTA.”

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