How Three Best Friends Launched an On-The-Go Underwear Company in 5000 CVS Stores

Posted: April 12, 2024

By Ella Napata

How 3 Best Friends Launched An On The Go Underwear Company In 5000 CVS Stores

The story of Panic Panties is hilarious, real, and very much needed in this modern world. Three friends, Maria-Nicole Marino, Alexandra Tartell, and Katherine Anne Koury, were casually having dinner when Katherine was pained at the fact that she forgot to pack a pair of panties and had to run all over New York, defeated because she couldn’t find anything fitting, sexy, or affordable. At that moment, the girls agreed they “needed panties in a panic.” little did they know that fateful night turned into an incredible 5-year journey that would lead them to launch an on-the-go panty company in over 5000+ CVS stores. 

Watch the Full Podcast Episode

Startup San Diego and Panic Panties

Startup San Diego first met Panic Panties in 2022 when they participated in the Startup San Diego Incubator program. Through the program, they were able to learn from local startup leaders like Ryan Kuder (Techstars), Cheryl Goodman (, and Taylor Cavannah (PetDesk), to name a few. The program was a no-cost, no-equity virtual program with expert training, mentorship, and community to help grow and scale startups. At the end of the program, Maria and her team had the opportunity to demo and pitch at San Diego Startup Week, one of their first times to pitch their product in front of hundreds! 

San Diego Startup Week Pitch Competition Winners

Panic Panties continued to stay involved with Startup San Diego, and in 2023, came back for the San Diego Startup Week Founders Fight Club Pitch Competition, this time as champions – taking home the $10,000 cash prize. Through that pitch competition, Maria and her team were able to pay for one of their largest fulfillments at Walgreens, gain mentorship from San Diego Startup Week judge Kate Nowlan (Face Your Grace, Inc.), and meet other angel investors who have been instrumental in shaping their brand’s vision. 

What to Expect in this Startup Spotlight Podcast Episode

Almost two years later, our Podcast host and Operations Manager at Startup San Diego, Erika Gastelum, sits down with Co-founder Maria-Nicole Marino for an in-depth interview to see how they went from an idea to a 5000 CVS store launch. 

In this podcast episode, learn how Panic Panties:

  • First got started
  • Tested and failed 
  • Found the right manufacturers and partners
  • Created a Panty Recycling Program
  • Won pitch competitions 
  • Launched in 5000+ stores nationwide 
  • Their next steps

Listen in and subscribe to the Startup Spotlight by Startup San Diego! 

Ella Napata

March 28, 2024
8 min read