Many lingerie brands make first bras for young girls, but Yellowberry takes a unique approach to designing and marketing their products.
Megan Grassell started the company as a 17-year-old high school student. She'd been frustrated by the lack of first bra options available to her younger sister. So she decided to make a difference by launching a new intimate apparel line.
Megan attended the recent lingerie trade show in New York to show her line to retailers. I got the chance to meet her and was impressed with the quality and design of the Yellowberry collection, which includes underwear, activewear and loungewear. I couldn't wait to learn more about how she got her start---and find out what she's figured out along the way.
You noticed a gap in the "first bra" market when shopping with your sister. But what was your first bra buying experience?
My mom took me to a department store and a woman measured me and gave me a box of bras. There was no education. She didn’t even tell me how to put on a bra. They were all very padded. It was an odd addition to my wardrobe. I would always forget to wear them in the morning and I was very self-conscious about it.
I went through the exact same experience as Mary Margaret [her sister]. It took me being one step removed. I figured I wasn’t the only girl who felt like she didn’t have very good options. I wanted to make the best option available.
How did you jump from your initial idea to executing Yellowberry?
Using my own savings, I started working with a seamstress to make prototypes and the first round of products. In January 2014 I launched two styles in two colors. Nobody knew who I was, the website wasn't great, and we basically only had four bras.
I realized that I needed to raise money to market this product and set up a Kickstarter campaign in March 2014 with a $25K goal. I ended up raising $42K. I did this during my junior/senior year of high school and got the help of other students to create a video. A Mighty Girl wrote about it and the story went viral. People were calling from everywhere. For the next six months we rode a wave of brand recognition. We introduced a bunch of styles and looked for manufacturing partners, etc. In August 2015 we switched web platforms and expanded the lines. The focus is still on girls but now we offer bras, activewear, and loungewear.
What's been your biggest challenge?
The first three months we had no traffic and $200 in sales and I almost gave up. One of the biggest challenges was switching website platforms and making it easy to use.
I went back to my gut feeling. This is not just about a bra. It’s a movement. I'm trying to change the way we think about bras. Most options available [to young girls] are marketed as super sexy. Success is measured in small steps along the way.
What have you learned about the lingerie industry?
There’s a ton of really cool brands. There are actually hundreds that are different. I was surprised to learn that there are a lot of men working in lingerie.
How has starting up the company changed you?
I've become more comfortable speaking in public. I was terrified of public speaking and refused to speak at my high school graduation. But as Yellowberry grew, it forced me to explain myself, the brand, products, and what I needed. I got better at it; and now I look forward to it – most of the time.
What advice would you give a girl who wants to start up a new business?
Go for it!! I started Yellowberry when I was so young I was too naïve to understand how difficult it would be.
This statement comes from a 20-year-old CEO. It's no wonder Yellowberry urges customers to join them on social media with the hashtag #GoMakeItHappen. (That motto is inspirational to me, and I'm not even their target market!)
Here's a look at a few of the bras from Yellowberry's current collection. Most styles are made to fit 24" to 36" ribcages and are available in multiple colors. All items are machine washable.
Yellowberry images -- all photos of models ONLY taken from the back
20-year-old Girlboss Megan Grassell, Founder of Yellowberry
What do you think of this new line of first bras for young girls? Would you purchase a Yellowberry bra for you or your daughter? Why or why not?
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