Guest Author Ruben Soto

Rueben Soto

Ruben Soto, CEO/Founder of

One of the fastest-growing businesses in the country has nothing to do with big data or crowdsourcing or mobile apps. Instead, it sells an undergarment popular in the Victorian era: corsets.

Hourglass CEO Ruben Soto didn't intend to build an empire on women's unmentionables. It all started working for his father, who runs a clothing wholesaling business, Almacenes Maria's in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. A place he worked every weekend since he was 10 years old.

“A lot of Spanish-speaking women were coming in and looking for shapewear that was stronger and more durable,” he recalls. “As I got older, I saw the demand, researched and decided there was a niche market no one had tapped into yet.”

 Mr. Soto followed this gut instinct and launched during the summer of his junior year at the University of Michigan: a site created with just a $4,500 investment. Inventory focused mostly on waist cinchers called fajas, an item his father had been selling for the past 30 years. But, Ruben saw something more than just corsets. He could service the customer better than anyone else, and not just this; women could now get this same shopping experience and buy shapewear online with just a click.

“I went back to school and took customer service calls on a second cell phone (tricky explaining to girls that you have two cells phones to help women browse for girdles) and answered emails related to shapewear sizing while listening to lectures.”

Business grew so quickly that he soon found himself leading a double life: college student and e-commerce entrepreneur. Today, is a 25 person company with a 2015 revenue forecast of $12M. Ruben Soto was even named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 for the Retail & E-Commerce space in 2016.

And to imagine, it all started thanks to $4,500, resourcefulness and hard work during a time when shapewear was unmentionable.

Forbes 30 Under 30 - January 2016