With all the focus on the full cup bust market, you might think that smaller cups have it easy shopping for well-fitting, beautiful bras.
But that’s not true. The AAA to B cup market, while continuing to grow, isn’t as broad as the one catering to C+ cups. This lingerie niche is what Little Women is working to meet. The UK-based retailer carries stylish lingerie and swimwear in small cup sizes. Plus they’ve developed a line of beautiful bras and bralettes for petite busts.
Little Women’s offerings include strapless, wired and non-wired bras, plus sports and swimwear. They’ve got a separate category catering to teen girls, too. Because they know there’s a big difference between what an adolescent girl wants to wear versus an adult woman with more sophisticated and fashion forward lingerie tastes.
You can learn more about Little Women in my interview below, and get a look at a few of their current styles:
How long have you been in business and what was the impetus for launch?
Little Women was founded some 25 years ago, by a Welsh nurse who used to send photocopied, handwritten descriptions and prices with black and white photos of the bras she had sourced from somewhere to her ‘ladies.’ One of these ‘ladies,’ Fiona, sent her a cheque for a bra that got returned with a stroppy note saying “you need to ring to ask if I’ve still got it before sending me a cheque.” Fiona had an inkling that all was not well in the land of small cup bras and a short while after, ended up buying the company. About 22 years later, Fiona decided that the time was right to make her exit and purely by chance, a mutual friend of Fiona and Caroline introduced them to each other and a short while later, in April 2015, Caroline took over the ownership of the business.
What makes it different or unique in the lingerie or intimate apparel market? What’s the niche you are trying to fill?
The small cup market—starting at an AAA cup has nearly always been ignored by the lingerie market. We hear from customers all the time that they have been wearing a teenage ‘training’ bra all their life because of their cup size. Quite frankly, they are over the moon when they find gorgeous, adult lingerie in their size. Other small cup brands exist, but the pressure to be ‘bigger and better’ seems still to prevail in the mainstream.
The need for small cup bras designed for small cup sized customers still exists today as it did 25 years ago. The physiology of a small chested woman is different to that of a fuller chested lady and simply a ‘scaled down’ bra from a bigger size will not do. Caroline has been busy developing bras under the Little Women label that are specifically made for our customers and is keen to carry on innovating for them.
Who do you see as your ideal customer?
Any lady with a small cup size who wants to get away from wearing teenage training bras and who would much rather wear a gorgeous bra that fits her body shape, and has (almost always) matching knickers!
You carry several brands, including your own. How long have you been offering your label?
Our own label was the start of the business. Other labels were and are introduced when we find those that have small cup sizes to offer.
Do you sell internationally? What do customers need to know about import taxes when ordering lingerie online?
We sell all over the world. Our biggest market after the UK is North America. To be honest, because of the relatively low order value we rarely get customers affected by import tax. We advise that they can be affected by them, but we can’t really predict.
What’s been your greatest business challenge, other than raising funds to launch?
What was and remains our biggest business challenge is letting people know we exist! Ladies seem particularly sensitive about ‘following’ a small cup sized brand. They certainly don’t seem to like sharing us with their friends for fear of being seen to be judged by them on their cup size. It’s deeply frustrating and, as a small business, we don’t have the marketing budgets of the big brands. My content team are completely amazing, and we just keep trying to get our message of ‘you’re beautiful as you are’ to consumers in as many innovative and engaging ways possible.
Is there anything you find frustrating about the lingerie industry of which consumers have no clue?
A couple of things: minimum order quantities (MOQs) are a complete nightmare for small retailers. We don’t own the factories (I wish!). With small companies like mine we are quite often buying ends of fabric lines with no possibility of any further stock arriving. The other thing is that every brand sizes differently and the retailer often gets blamed for these difficulties. We do our best to offer stellar customer service, but really can’t be held responsible for (say) Triumph’s 34A being a different size or shape to (say) Royce’s—or our own of course.
Where do you want Little Women to be in the next ten years?
I want Little Women to be the name that everyone associates with grown up lingerie made for the small cup customer. I have a dream of owning a manufacturing facility that will enable me to be more responsive and agile. As an angel investor with an interest in UK manufacturing, I can see how hard it is to survive, let alone compete in this market.
What is the one thing you want customers to know about you?
We actually care about our customers, many of whom are on first name terms with my team. And we genuinely want them to be completely delighted with our lingerie and our service.
Little Women Brand Recap:
Styles: Bralettes, underwired, non-wired, multi-way, strapless, t-shirt bras, light to heavy padding, sports, teen, sleep, and swimwear.
Bra Price Range: From $20.79 to $89.70, USD.
Sizing: Bras fit bands 28 – 40, and cups AAA – B. Briefs and thongs sized from 6 – 18.
What do you think of the Little Women lingerie brand? Have you found it difficult to find small cup lingerie made for grown women?