Quantcast

How A Professional Dancer Turned A Nude Pantyhose Problem Into A Melanin-Based Solution

Your nude is not my nude.

BOSS UP

Erin Carpenter grew up bending, turning, and leaping across a dance studio, wearing a black ballet leotard and stretchy pink tights.


Her tiny brown toes pointed and flexed inside her pink ballet slippers. Ballet culture is European-dancers donning pink tights and slippers to give the illusion of a long, white skin leg line.

Many Black women go through the tedious process of looking for hosiery to complement their skin. Mismatched nude tights can make Black legs appear ashy. Most sheer colored nylons and tights on the market are made to complement white skin. As a former New York Knicks City Dancer, Carpenter explained that she spent hours dipping and dyeing her tights in tea bag water, hoping to get them a closer match to her nude.

"There was always this reoccurring issue where we were asked to bring nude skin toned tights, panties, and bras and they didn't have anything in my color."

Erica Carpenter/Nude Barre

Conversations with her peers about the same struggle of not being able to find nude undergarments motivated her to launch Nude Barre, a pantyhose and undergarment brand for dancers and the everyday woman. It's made with melanin in mind.

While brands like The New Nudes and Nubian Skin offer brown skin, nude lingerie, Nude Barre offers the most options with 12 shades of skin tones, ranging from fair "Lycheeteni" to dark "Licorice."

Carpenter spoke with us on why she feels "nude" doesn't always include black skin, the challenges she faced leaping from professional dancer to a female founder of her own business, and why she named each shade of her Nude Barre undergarments after cocktail bar drinks.

Nude Barre

Why do you think black skin tones are overlooked in this industry?

Most brands were making three to four skin tone options but nude was always the beige color or tan and then other colors that were browns would be just brown and that doesn't really cover everybody.

I think it's a little bit of ignorance [and] a little bit of laziness. There is more money that has to go into it. It's not as easy. I think there's a lack of education that-that nude just isn't going to work. If I put on a white button down shirt, that beige is gonna show. It's gonna look like a white bra.

When did you know it was time to transition from a professional dancer to full-time entrepreneur to launch Nude Barre?

It was pretty early on. I just started with my little dancer savings and I was doing commercials and was getting residual checks as well and just begging my parents to help me out as well. They believed in this. Every little bit of profit that has come back has been put back into the company to make it expand and grow.

Nude Barre

Lycheeteni, Brown Sugar, and Mocha are some of the 12 Nude Barre colors. Why are they named after bar drinks?

I spent a year figuring out the dye process and if that was something I wanted to do. I wanted it to be a bar where you come hangout so we would have these fun cocktail names.

Our colors are similar to makeup foundations and there are undertones to them. I created the colors based on makeup foundations.

How did you explain to your Chinese manufacturers you needed nude tones to mimic Black skin?

Trying to explain what I was trying to do in terms of redefining nude was like a weird concept to people. They [would] send me beige - and that's not what we're trying to do here. Even still to this day, I still have to re-educate people on we're doing and what you think nude is.

Nude Barre

I basically sent them the dyed version of what I had been playing with and give them tips and details on what I wanted to change or fix. That was a big learning experience as far as how detailed I [needed] to be in my emails and using pictures and screenshots.

Since you're based online only, how can women find and match their nude?

[Working] with a company called Nudest, you [upload] a picture [onto our website]. You then select where on your hand represents your skin the best. It will look like a make-up foundation blot. You'll answer a couple of questions about your skin. The algorithm tells you what shade you are in the Nude Barre products. The products will crop up and you can click on it and buy it or look around.

Nude Barre

Your products range from regular tights to fishnets to seamless thongs. How far do you want to expand into nude undergarments?

I want to make every undergarment you can think of in the different nude shades. Whether it's a slip, or shape wear or knee high, girdles. That's in the pipeline. As a foundational garment, that first layer, you need to feel good in [[it] and when you put on all your other layers, you also need to feel good so you can be your best self. Nude Barre does that for women.

*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

For more Erin Carpenter, follow her on Instagram and check out Nude Barre.

Featured image by Nude Barre

We’ve all been there: Exhausted, lacking motivation, on edge, or simply not feeling like working at all. And we might have even used up all of our sick days, not to rest from a cold or injury, but just to get a bit of relief from those job or business responsibilities. Sometimes, you're not able to shake that nagging feeling of gloom, eventually finding yourself in a toxic pattern of unhealthy habits and behaviors. There's a larger issue that goes way beyond just needing a break.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

CultureCon is one of the top conferences for creative people of color to attend to meet fellow changemakers. The event, which is presented by the Creative Collective NYC, has attracted some of our favorite entertainers as keynote speakers such as Tracee Ellis Ross, Chloe x Halle, Michael B. Jordan, and many more.

Keep reading...Show less

There seems to be a big question mark over our heads when it comes to sex during pregnancy. When ironically enough, the same way the baby got in is the same way it’s going to get out (in a lot of ways). A wise person said that to me – I just can’t recall who, so consider this to be a shoutout to a real one because in all actuality it’s true.

Keep reading...Show less

Since her days as Freddie on A Different World, Cree Summer has captivated audiences with her free spirit, beauty, and style. Since starring in the beloved sitcom, the actress has been working behind the scenes voicing cartoon characters such as Susie Carmichael on Rugrats and Numbuh Five on Codename: Kids Next Door.

Keep reading...Show less

While Jay Ellis’ claim to fame is starring in Insecure as Lawrence, the 40-year-old actor racked up many acting credits prior to and after the iconic series. He starred in The Game and currently, he’s promoting his new film Top Gun: Maverick where he plays the character Payback. The role could be considered a full-circle moment for the actor since he was a military brat.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts