Entrepreneurs often focus on the “pain points” faced by consumers and what they can do to address them.
The pain point Michelle Lam and Aarthi Ramamurthy want to address is the difficulty faced by women when buying intimate apparel, starting with bras.
“The whole fitting room experience is so painful and uncomfortable for women,” says Lam. “You stand around half naked for hours waiting for a salesperson to bring you a pile of bras and then leave.
“We are redesigning the bra shopping experience in a way we feel comfortable with as women.”
That experience is based on the technology of personalization. Their San Francisco-based True&Co uses technology to determine which bras out of the hundreds of styles sold through its website provide the best fit for each woman’s unique body shape.
“What we offer is your personalized bra shop, unique to you, in the privacy of your home,” says Ramamurthy.
It works like this:
You take a short online quiz that asks you questions, including which of the four basic shapes best describe your breasts; which of the four basic types of bras you prefer; what your dress size is currently and whether you’ve gained or lost weight recently; how your breasts fit into the bra cup; and whether your bra hurts (and if so, where.)
“Your answers all teach our algorithm,” Ramamurthy explains. “The different brands of bras all fit differently and are all sized differently.” (This is why a measuring tape is not a helpful part of the process.)
“Bras are complex garments with more than 20 components,” says Lam. “And breasts are a very difficult part of the body to fit. Your body changes, so you should get fitted at least once a year.”
Once True & Co’s algorithm recommends which sizes and styles of bras are best for you, you pick three and the company adds two others for you to try on at home. These are selected from over 20 national and boutique brands, including Calvin Klein and Natori.
For the first shipment you pay a deposit of $45, which is the price of every bra offered by the company. You keep (and pay for) any bras you like and return the rest. The company covers shipping both ways.
“Most women need more bras,” says Lam. “In our research, two-thirds told us they didn’t replace their bras until they were literally falling apart.”
If Lam and Ramamurthy are right about the pain point they are addressing, a pretty good business model should be their reward.
“Women should be replacing their bras twice a year,” says Lam. “So we will be in a long term, you could say intimate relationship with them.”
The company promises to expand its inventory to include other intimate apparel items – “everything underneath the dress” – soon.