Jaclyn Fu and Lia Winograd founded Pepper, a bra company designed specifically for small busts.
"Do you really even need to wear a bra, then?"
Any woman who identifies as being small-chested has likely heard this phrase at least once in their life...and cringed. Plenty of women like the look and comfort of bras, regardless of their cup size, OK?
While small boobs may not be synonymous with the body positive movement (and don't necessarily require the same high-tech support as larger cup sizes), the availability of products that fit them is a crucial part of validating all the different sizes and shapes of bodies that exist in the world.
And while it may seem like an, ahem, small battle to fight, the simplicity of having a well-fitting bra is a right that every woman should have.
That's exactly why Jaclyn Fu and Lia Winograd created Pepper, a bra company that caters specifically to small busts. (Read all about Pepper, their products, mission, and why it matters, here.) But behind these small, very important packages are two badass female entrepreneurs. Keep reading to find out more about the story behind Pepper, lessons they've learned along the way, and advice for game-changing future entrepreneurs as well.
Why Pepper matters in today's body-positive climate.
"I’ve worn a push up bra to make myself look two sizes bigger. I’ve stuffed my bra once or twice in high school. I’ve looked at my body in the mirror and wished it was ‘better.’ What inspired Pepper, and making a bra that finally fit, was all the women who also shared that they felt the same way about their body and had similar experiences with body image.
While Pepper started as a bra company, we’ve always imagined it to be more of a community and movement to spark meaningful conversation around body image. We aim to use this platform to bring to light how society continues to perpetuate harmful body standards and to rally women to celebrate their bodies exactly as they are." - Fu (Related: Why Body-Shaming Is Such a Big Problem and What You Can Do to Stop It)
If you struggle with something, there's a chance someone else does too.
"Initially, launching a start-up started as a side project from our full-time jobs and we were just playing around with different ideas. When Jaclyn told me about creating a bra that would finally fit her, the idea was compelling to me: I saw many niche startups in the market for large cup sizes, but there wasn’t a brand owning the narrative around body acceptance for women with small breasts.
Still, I was hesitant about the size of the opportunity until after the successful Kickstarter campaign, which brought in over $47,000 worth of orders. Our emails were bombarded with women sharing their most intimate stories about growing up not feeling like they were 'enough.' That’s when I knew we were really onto something." - Winograd
You don't need to be an expert to be an entrepreneur.
"Be an expert in your customer. Even though we didn’t come from the bra industry or have a design degree, we created a bra that fits better than any other bra in the market by getting really good at listening to potential customers and their pain points. We didn’t have all the answers in the beginning which made us more curious and open to new solutions." - Fu
Trust your gut—even if it means slowing down the process.
"The first 'yes' we ever got from an investor raised all sorts of red flags: aggressive terms, bad working chemistry, embarrassingly low valuation. But Jaclyn and I were so enamored with the prospect of receiving funds that we almost accepted the terms. In retrospect, we probably did everything wrong in that early conversation.
Eventually, the investors were so ticked off by the back and forth that they decided to drop the deal. These mistakes made us realize exactly what we wanted out of an investor, and helped us be extremely successful at securing win-win deals in future conversations. It all worked out—we secured a more attractive valuation at the end of the round!" - Winograd
When you love what you do, you don't need to meditate nearly as often.
"I’ve been that management consultant working until 3 a.m. consecutively throughout the week, and that early-stage employee at a crazy and unstructured startup where no one knows what the future holds. I can honestly say that if you genuinely enjoy what you do–as I do with Pepper–your self-care is taken care of because your mood is better, you feel more accomplished, and you are more fulfilled. Regardless of the crazy mistakes we may make on a given day, we're building something amazing from the ground up, and that helps me sleep better at night!" - Winograd (Related: How to Find Time to Practice Self-Care When You Have None)
When you stand up for yourself as a woman, you're standing up for womankind.
"Structural power dynamics clearly reflect that women continue to occupy subservient roles in a patriarchal society; when we proclaim otherwise, we’re projecting our aspirations for a better future and the kind of attitude needed to get us there!" - Winograd
Want more incredible motivation and insight from inspiring women? Join us this fall for our debut SHAPE Women Run the World Summit in New York City. Be sure to browse the e-curriculum here, too, to score all kinds of skills.