As a group of women working towards common goals for STYLE Canada‘s brand and business, we understand the value of peer support in the workplace. So, after our last Supper Club at Soho House, we decided to bring like-minded women in business together and feature them in an ongoing series: #LeadingLadies. Learn more about #LeadingLadies Jessica Miao and Chloe Beaudoin, founders of tween bra brand Apricotton.
SC: Jessica shared how her younger sister Cindy inspired you guys to start Apricotton. What has your sister’s reaction been to the brand’s success?
JM: Part of the inspiration from Apricotton came from taking Cindy bra shopping for the first time and watching her shyly try on six of the smallest sized sports bras from a lingerie store, and only being able to find one in her size. Six months later she grew out of them and we had to restart the process all over again. My sister has been ecstatic with Apricotton’s success as she loves being able to model the bras and be the first to try on our samples and give feedback. She’s shared our brand around her middle school and now, we’re honoured for Apricotton to be many of her friends’ first bras.
SC: How has Apricotton made bra shopping for tween girls a fun and comfortable experience?
JM: As an e-commerce brand, girls can try on bras in the comfort of their own homes. We eliminate the awkward in-store bra shopping experience, where girls no longer have to feel self-conscious about being measured or having people from school see them in the lingerie store.
We want girls to celebrate getting their first bra, which is why we personally hand wrap all of our bras like a present with confetti tissue paper, a personalized thank you card, ribbon, and a free scrunchie. Girls get really excited about unwrapping their bras because it makes getting their first bra feel special.
SC: How do you help girls determine their size?
JM: Girls can easily find their size with our super-simple one-step size guide on our website and under every product page. Our bras are sized using underbust measurements to make finding the perfect fit much easier. We use t-shirt sizing (small to extra large) since standard women’s bra sizes like 34B are difficult to understand. On top of that, we also offer free exchanges and returns on any order, because we want to ensure that girls are wearing the right size and that Apricotton’s bras are their best fit ever.
SC: How do you design bras to feel comfortable yet supportive?
JM: We both love fashion and have designed all of our bras ourselves using feedback from Jessica’s sister and other girls, making sure we include features that girls actually need in a bra. They asked for features like a clean cuts that don’t show under shirts and adjustable straps that can also be crisscrossed under tank tops. Some girls wanted padding while others didn’t. We incorporated their feedback and added removable padding to give girls the option of increased coverage as they develop.
We took our time finding the right fabrics. Girls wanted something versatile that they could wear all day, from gym class to math. We also wanted to make our bras out of soft fabric so that it does not distract them from accomplishing their daily goals. Now, all of our bras have soft moisture-wicking material for all-day wear. Our fabric is also super stretchy so it can expand and grow as the girl grows.
SC: How can a well-fitted bra make you feel more confident?
JM: There are a lot of issues with ill-fitting bras, like back pain, and psychological issues like lack of confidence. Things like gaps on the side of the bra and leftover space in the cups, or spillage, can make girls feel insecure about their chest size. Apricotton’s bras are specifically designed for tween and teen girls so they feel confident wearing their bra – they can barely feel like they have it on. This way, they can feel more comfortable changing in the locker room.
SC: Did you experience any learning curves when you first started your business?
JM: We experienced a lot of learning curves and we’re still learning now. One of our biggest roadblocks at the beginning was that we don’t have a fashion background, so it took us a long time to find a manufacturer to guide us through the development process after we shared our designs with them. We reached out to a lot of small businesses and seamstresses to learn more about the industry and what steps they took to start their businesses. This took us about two months, but it was really helpful to get started.
We built a really strong relationship with our manufacturer, and now they help us with all of our product-related questions. Additionally, we’ve joined a couple of accelerators that have helped us a lot with figuring out how to run a business. As we consistently put out fires, it’s great to have a community where we can ask questions and get support.
SC: Puberty is such a taboo topic. When you were younger, did your parents discuss puberty with you?
CB: My parents are very open to discussion, but I have to be the one to bring it up. I was so awkward and shy when I was 10. I was too scared to talk to anyone about my issues. I had to learn a lot by myself, like how to measure your bra size and how to put tampons in because I was too nervous to bring it up to my parents.
JM: I proactively asked my mom to take me bra shopping and teach me about feminine hygiene. However, it took me a lot of trial and error to figure out the complications that came with puberty, like finding my bra size and dealing with body hair. This is why we made sure to make Apricotton both a bra brand and go-to puberty resource, as we openly share “older sister” advice about taboo puberty topics like discharge and shaving.
SC: What was your first bra experience like?
CB: My first time in a bra store was really exciting because to me it meant I was becoming a ‘woman’. It wasn’t until I had to actually start wearing the bra that I realized it was so uncomfortable. Those super thin training bras offer zero coverage and I still look back at those old photos and cringe. It was the worst of both worlds because training bras didn’t offer enough coverage but I also wasn’t developed enough to fill out a cup-style bra, so I constantly held my arms in front of my shirt so no one could see my chest.
JM: In elementary school, my mom took me to a department store to buy standard training bras. They were trimmed with lace, making them super itchy, and they had no padding so I had no coverage. I wore them for a year because I was not able to find any bras that were drastically different from them. I remember always wearing an undershirt to hide the fact that I was wearing a bra.
SC: Why do you feel it’s important that we normalize the conversation surrounding puberty?
JM: Puberty affects every aspect of a girl’s daily life and can cause unnecessary stress if they are not guided through it. As girls experience confusing physical and mental changes, we need to show them that it’s completely normal. Sharing experiences on topics that are often ignored at school like sweat, hair, and discharge can impact the way a girl feels about herself and her body. Apricotton has built an online community of girls with young women who share their puberty tips so girls no longer feel alone. We encourage them to ask us more questions.
SC: What’s next for Apricotton? What are your goals for the brand?
JM: Our mission is to ensure that no girl goes through puberty alone. We hope to educate girls across the world about puberty-related topics and expand our bra line to include more styles and colours to help girls feel more confident. Our next step is to expand outside of Canada and the U.S. to give girls the choice of adjustable and comfy bras that last through multiple stages of puberty.