Over the last year, photos of celebrities "waist training" have become a hot topic on social media. What is this corset-like contraption snatched around your midsection and why is everyone from Kim Kardashian to Amber Rose obsessed with it? According to PreMadonna, founder of Waist Gang Society, it's a unique and efficient way to help women shed unwanted inches and feel good about themselves — no diet and exercise required.
After starting a business from her Florida condo just two years ago, Waist Gang Society now sells everything from meal replacement pills to t-shirts, in addition to its most popular waist shapers, which come in a variety of colors, patterns, and materials, featuring hook closures and varying degrees of intensity (including "very aggressive"). To date, the company has earned over one million dollars in revenue from product sales. We spoke with the self-made businesswoman about starting from the bottom, the myths associated with waist training, and getting her product into the influential hands of the Kardashian sisters.
How did you get started with waist training? Did you have a background in fashion or fitness and health?
Pre Madonna: I was at a point in my life where I didn’t like how I looked. I needed to lose my weight, I had a big stomach at the time, and I was a young mother. It was all about me trying new products to see what would work because I couldn’t afford surgery, so a light bulb came on and I decided to start waist training.
What made you decide to go that route?
I was inspired by the Victorian ages when they were using tight-laced corsets, but I didn’t like them because it was too tight. I went searching for something similar, but I didn’t want the strings that you pull in the back. I had a friend who told me about looking into these products. And once I went there I was buying so many and trying out eight garments — it was all different kinds of waist corsets, from latex to cotton to spandex. And my friends kept being like, "Where are you getting them from?" I was able to make it into a brand and start making my own physical product. This was 2013.
And where did you go from there? I know Kim Kardashian uses them.
I started asking people on on Facebook, "Hey do you want to lose three inches off your waist?" Eventually it grew into Instagram and that really helped me because I would tag celebrities with the products. Kim reached out to me through a mutual friend that we had — I thought my friend was playing but she was like, "No, I’m serious, Kim Kardashian wants to try this product." Once I sent it to her, Kim and I developed our own relationship. And then we all grew a mutual relationship because they liked the product. They’d be like, "What product do you have? What’s next?" It was an obsession and I understood it, because those were the exact feelings I had when I first started.
How many people worked with you to create the brand?
In the beginning it was just me and my mom. It’s a family business because no one would really take me seriously. No one understood a corset and how it worked, so in the beginning I had a lot of guinea pigs and no one was really believing the brand. And now they’re amazed. It did require a team, of course. I have a staff that helps me with packaging, but at first it was just a home-based business I started out of my condo. Literally, I would pack and ship, and I was online. We’ve grown so much from there.
What’s the difference been in your business since Kim and Khloe started using your product and sharing pics?
You get the Kardashians and then you get other celebrities, so I can’t even explain it. We had growth even before the Kardashians — I kept saying, "Hey, work the waist, work the waist," and it was so annoying. I kind of forced the product on America.
Kim has definitely been open about that on social media, too. Do you know if she’s gotten Kourtney into waist training?
Kourtney has several children but after the last one she said she was going to try it. I think to be honest it was probably Khloe who convinced her to try it.
What about Kris Jenner?
I don’t know, she’s probably using her daughter’s right now. [Laughs.] Will she post it? I don’t know. They’re all about the same size so I wouldn’t be surprised. But I don’t talk to the girls about that. I don’t force the relationship.
Have you talked to the Kardashians about being the face of your company?
I haven’t, because I’m just so grateful that they love the product. I don’t think they want to do any endorsements, if they did of course I would.
What are the different kinds of waist shapers you have and what they do?
I have the super aggressive which is kind of self-explanatory. It's the most aggressive waist shaper we have. It’s called the Gym & A garment, and you don’t have to work out with it. It corrects your posture and it has a fabric in it that makes you perspire more, so you’re going to sweat in that.
So the ones that aren’t super aggressive should be worn while you work out?
No, you can wear all the garments while you work out. There are just some you don’t have to work out with. There are some people who don’t have time to go to the gym so that’s what that one is for. It’s super aggressive, you can use our slimming cream and wear it a minimum of four hours a day, and it’s going to do what the shaper has to do.
Do you recommend people wear these under their clothes during the day?
I wear mine during the day under my clothes. It’s whatever you want to do. You can waist train for three days and you can lose some inches on your waist and actually lose belly fat as well.
Is there a specific diet you stick to while wearing them?
You don’t eat crazy, you don’t eat hamburgers all day. For those who really want to lose weight and keep the waist down, we have a menu online, but they don’t have to diet. We just recommend they drink a lot of water.
How many waist shapers should someone who's really serious about waist training have?
You only need one waist trainer but you need to read the descriptions and try them on and figure out what’s best. We have some that are for people with longer torsos or people who are shorter. There’s always shapers for different body types.
What’s the typical time that it takes to move from Level 1 to Level 2?
It all depends. Everyone is different. If they’re wearing their garment for the four hours or even two hours, you can lose in as little as three days or in two weeks. Everyone is really different.
What are some of the criticisms of your product that you’ve seen?
There’s so much love that I really can’t focus on the hate. The most popular I’ve heard is that it’s going to crush your ribs, or that it just doesn’t work. That’s the number one.
What do you say to people who are thinking about it but may be a little nervous because of these ideas?
If you go get lipo surgery or tummy tuck, when they cut you up and then say you have to wear the same garment we have for 90 days. Obviously it can’t be harmful if you’re putting this thing on for 90 days after you were cut up. I can honestly tell them it’s really a myth because I’m in perfect health. I think they're referring to tight-laced corsets. But I don’t think that could crush your ribs either.
Who are some famous women you would love to see wearing your waist shapers?
Of course Beyoncé and Oprah Winfrey.
Have you reached out to them?
No. Because think about it: they’re coming. Mark my words, by the end of this year. [Laughs.]
Once Beyoncé posts that Instagram it’s all gonna blow up.
Oh, yeah. She has that Beyhive, so I can only imagine. But the thing about it is, it’s the product that’s good. It’s not about who is wearing it, it’s the product.
How does it feel to get positive testimonials from real customers?
It feels so good to know that I’m making a difference in their life — and not just young women but older women as well who are saying they couldn’t afford surgery and didn’t think in a million years their waist would shrink down. It’s also a medical garment and I’m in the works with some doctors to help women who are getting gastric bypass surgery because they have a lot of excess skin. So I’m coming up with a body armor for them. We have the pants already, they’re available online. And then we’re gonna have the arm shapers. I’m really taking it serious because I want to help women, you can get it all here at Waist Gang Society.
How do you talk about waist training with your own doctor?
My doctor laughed because I asked him to get an X-ray the other day. I was like, "Let me post this because people think my ribs are crushed." My ribs are perfectly intact. My doctor told me I was in perfect health. It actually helped me because I had a little Scoliosis in high school from sports, and it’s really improving my back and my posture. So I’m getting him to write that documentation up for me.
What is the future of your company?
PreMadonna and the Waist Gang Society, we are the future of women getting empowered and loving themselves and loving their bodies. It all starts with their mind. This waist shaper not only transforms your waist but it actually transforms your confidence. It makes women feel comfortable because I remember a day and age when we were embarrassed for a man to even know we had on undergarments. We wanted to keep that a secret, but now it’s a fierceness. Like, I’m that woman. And for the future I just want to help every woman feel good about themselves.