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Bras and Boobs – Many people around the world who are reading this may say “I get it!” when I complain about how uncomfortable bras can sometimes be. Either bras are pretty but intended for women with smaller breasts, or they are ugly and expensive if you have a larger bust. That’s where Frankly Apparel comes in – they’re a first-of-its-kind braless clothing company, and they’re here to turn things around for those of us with larger cup sizes.
Founders Heather Eaton and Jane Dong met at Stanford’s MBA program and successfully launched their braless clothing company through a Kickstarter campaign during the worst time of society’s existence. Heather is a former management consultant in Deloitte’s Chicago office, where she worked on everything from nonprofits focused on innovation to film studios. Jane worked at Goldman Sachs in New York as an investment banker, where she was hired after attending Columbia as a contract golfer. When he realized that paper storage company mergers weren’t his problem, he joined Uber and ultimately led the acquisition of UberEats drivers in the US and Canada.
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In the middle of last year, Heather and Jane launched a Kickstarter campaign with the initial goal of raising $ 25,000. His goal in choosing Kickstarter was to be able to fund inventory for his first collection, which meant hitting a certain minimum with his manufacturer. They exceeded this goal in less than five hours and doubled it, ultimately raising more than $ 50,000.
The “light bulb” moment that inspired Frankly was very personal to Heather: finding bras that really fit her had always been a struggle, even from the earliest stages of puberty. She expressed to me that when she was a teenager, she was excited to go bra shopping and join the ranks of being a “woman” in the sense that she could wear an actual bra and not a training bra (since those are an ), but nothing seemed to fit; And now, as an adult, she still feels the same way. “Women with larger breasts have been excluded from the no-bra movement because we have so much more to consider: support and safety are a much bigger concern with larger cup sizes because too much movement can be painful. I know wrestling firsthand and I think it can be especially frustrating for those with large breasts, especially compared to the rest of their body, ”she says.
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One of the distinguishing points of Frankly is its innovative and patented split-size system. Frankly it allows you to select a different bust size than your waist size for a dress or jumpsuit, without having to worry about fit. “We found that almost half of our customers are taking advantage of split sizes, which shows how many women are looking for clothes that fit better,” says Jane.
Sustainability also plays a key role for the brand. Through her ‘Studio’ pre-order program, Frankly aims to collaborate with her customer to produce more of what she wants, to avoid unsold inventory. The company uses the Higg index for high-quality, sustainable materials and fabrics, and the clothing is made in Los Angeles by ethical companies.
As of August 30, Frankly had already posted to 42 out of 50 states and gone viral on TikTok more than once, surpassing 5 million views with one of his cheeky videos. Your customer is already raving about your unique size chart and the company as a whole has some very excited people. While they currently only ship to the United States, they are already experiencing notable international demand within a few months of their launch. Heather and Jane see their clients as co-creators in the sense that their goal is to integrate their feedback. As a direct result, Frankly will expand his size range to 4X with his next collection, debuting this fall.
When I spoke to Heather and Jane about their trip, this is what they had to say for themselves:
On raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign to launch the brand …
Jane: Frankly, it actually started as a class project that Heather and I worked on while getting our MBA at Stanford. We were taking a class called Startup Garage, during which we had to conduct almost 100 user interviews. We got a lot of positive feedback and enthusiasm for our idea, but to really validate that women wanted more than just the status quo, we needed to see them back that up with stocks and their spending. We pooled our savings (post-payment tuition) to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund our first collection inventory. We reached our goal in less than 5 hours and ended up doubling our initial goal of $ 25,000 over the course of our campaign. We spent almost no money on ads or marketing, which showed us that women were waiting for a way to ditch their bras.
How your different backgrounds paved the way to a successful entrepreneurial venture …
Jane: On the surface, it might seem like Heather and I are quite similar. We’re both from industries like investment banking and consulting, and we met in business school. However, when we delve into what we actually go through doing, it becomes very apparent that we are different. Heather is a great design thinker, has graphic design skills, and has a keen eye for products that I personally (unfortunately) just don’t have. Heather is also the one with the most adjacent fashion experience, having done product strategy with a well-known footwear company. I love hanging out on spreadsheets; she will tolerate it. Sometimes we come from really different points of view, but because we understand the logic of the other person’s thinking, it helps us make better and more complete decisions than if it were just one of us.
Heather: I can’t stress enough how helpful it is to have a co-founder who is good (and enjoys!) In all areas of the business that you are not. Our strengths are complementary: Jane handles operations and finance because her background is investment banking and executing driving operations at Uber, while I run products and brands using my experiences in graphic design / marketing, consulting and in products. at Rothy’s. We implicitly trust each other’s decision-making for areas of their domain. It has worked well for us so far and has made work more enjoyable.
Investment banking and consulting are great first-time jobs. Learn to work hard, be reful, make analytical decisions, and communicate effectively. As entrepreneurs, I really don’t think you could ask for better training. We are both so used to navigating ambiguity and just diving in and learning what we don’t know. That has allowed us to advance a lot in an industry in which we are basically outsiders.
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How to Select the Right Co-Founder …
Jane: You often end up spending more time with your co-founder than with your spouse or partner, so when you’re “dating the co-founder,” keep that in mind. Selecting a business partner requires that you trust them 100% – you are sharing everything with them, from their social security numbers to your corporate bank account. You really need to believe that even in difficult situations, they will do the right thing for the company. While having different strengths and interests definitely helps. Frankly, the most important thing is that you can make tough decisions together and keep moving forward. Disagreements between founders can really blow up a company, and we intend to continually provide feedback, talk about how we feel, and make sure we are aligned with our values and the future of Frankly.
On its innovative metric sizing system and its own split size system….
Heather: We started out frankly with the intention of making the no-bra fashion trend more inclusive for a wider range of cup sizes. In the past, clothing was never designed to fit people with “disproportionately large breasts.” In fact, fashion explicitly designs a B cup. This is especially insane considering that the average woman in the US wears a DD! When we sat down and started talking about how we could give more people the opportunity to go braless, we came up with split sizing. With our split sizes, our customers can choose their size based on bust size and waist / hip size separately. We hear from customers all the time that this is the first time they have seen all of their measurements of the same size in a size chart. That’s so gratifying to me finally Give customers an option that I myself wanted for so long. Our goal is to keep expanding our size to fit more bodies and chest sizes.
On her mission and why the Frankly movement is so much more than going braless
Heather: When we ran our Kickstarter, we had this bag with art by New York artist Julie Cleveland saying “bras are a social construct.” It’s so true! We wear bras to make our bodies more “presentable” to society. Often times, that’s intrinsically tied to making our bodies more presentable to men, at the expense of our own comfort and needs. Women almost universally claim to hate wearing bras, but if you ask a woman to go out in public without one, she will often tell you that she could never do it. That just doesn’t suit us. But we are also realistic. Just because you know it’s unreasonable to contract an all-natural body part that’s over 50% of the human population doesn’t mean you necessarily want to be the only person leading the charge to release pinches at work. We want to be a small step towards a future without a bra. We help our clients regain their comfort, without increasing the anxiety that sometimes comes with not having a bra in public.
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It’s also about challenging the status quo in fashion. Why haven’t bras really changed in the last 50 years? Why don’t we design clothes for the body of real women, instead of expecting women to change their bodies to suit their clothes. Our mission is to empower women to ask for more, starting with what they wear. We’ve endured an industry that doesn’t design for the average person for too long. If we can raise our expectations with something as basic and universal as clothing, imagine the other ways we can demand a change. Frankly is named after that line from Gone with the Wind: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” and that’s us. We don’t give a damn how things have been done before or what society thinks. Fashion hasn’t worked for women for a long time. It still doesn’t work so we are here to change things.