ThirdLove Starts Up a Bravolution

ThirdLove balconet bra

ThirdLove balconet bra

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m a big follower of the fashion and tech start-up industry. So when ThirdLove, a San Francisco-based lingerie start-up, contacted me about writing a sponsored post, I had to say yes. They have been ones to watch on the e-commerce scene. It was barely two years ago that ThirdLove was nabbing a cool $5.6 million in seed money.

It’s not a social shopping experience, so it’s actually the perfect category to bring online.

Along with Brayola and True&Co, ThirdLove co-founders Dave Spector and Heidi Zak were early disrupters in the lingerie category. Moving bra sales combined with personal fitting services online makes sense. Zak explained to TechCrunch, in an article published at the time of their funding, “It’s not a social shopping experience, so it’s actually the perfect category to bring online.”

The Fit is the Feature

Before ordering from ThirdLove, I recommend downloading their sizing app to guarantee the right fit. This innovative mobile app walks you through how to take two photos of yourself wearing a bra and fitted tank top. The app uses an algorithm to identify your size based on the photos and matches you to the perfect size. It should be no surprise how ThirdLove married fashion and science – their app development lead is also a senior scientist at NASA. (The app is available on iPhone only, but an Android version is in the making.)

As other women can attest, sometimes “your girls” aren’t a true cup size – enter ThirdLove’s signature half cup sizes. And no matter your size, they’ve got you covered from the AAA to DDDD. ThirdLove also provides a Breast Shape Dictionary to help you define the shape of your breasts. For example, one being bigger than the other means “They’re Sisters, Not Twins.” Get it?! Their style chart will point you in the right direction based on shape as well.

According to Zak, women change bra sizes an average of six times in their lifetime.

While the shape of our breasts might stay the same over our lifetime, our bra size does not. According to Zak, women change bra sizes an average of six times in their lifetime. This rings true when you consider puberty, pregnancy, menopause and lifetime weight fluctuations. It also means we should be measuring ourselves with each bra purchase.

Photo by ThirdLove

Photo by ThirdLove

Let’s Talk About the Pretty

ThirdLove lingerie offers European-inspired lingerie in a small but solid selection of colours and styles. I chose the balconet bra in stormy lilac. It’s so pretty! Made with nylon, rayon and Spandex, the seams and fabric are both soft and comfortable. Their selection of panties, while a bit more basic in design, is quite broad.

Whatever interest they stand to lose on their selection, they’ll more than make up for in price and service. A perfect-fitting bra will only run you $45 to $70, while panties range $11 to $35 and – don’t forget – it’s a perfect fit with no changing room.

That’s something to love.

What Your Start-Up Can Learn from a Jazz Band

Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis & the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

Last night I caught a spectacular performance at Massey Hall from a  modern treasure in jazz, Wynton Marsalis. Heading up the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Marsalis led the band in classic renditions from Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and more. During the show it occurred to me how similar a jazz band is to a start-up company.

1. Every player is important. Every player is important to the overall sound, not one instrument is extraneous. In a start-up environment, keep your team tight and make sure each member is contributing something valuable. It doesn’t matter how big or small your team is – last night’s jazz was just as spectacular whether it was five or 15 people playing. Every person offered something unique and they knew it.

2. Each player is allowed – and expected – to shine. In jazz, each band member is offered a few moments in the spotlight to shine. This is called a solo. In business it could be a presentation of new idea, closing a deal or finding a cost savings. Give your employees space to demonstrate their unique contribution. In jazz, this creates competition among players to perform at their best. As Wynton explained to the audience, there are ten arrangers in the band (out of the 15 band members), and each one arranges music to highlight their instrument, which the others fully expect and support. Competition pushes people to innovate and exceed their own expectations.

3. Praise is necessary to the performance. And it’s free. In jazz, players are often rewarded in the moment by their conductor and peers. Wynton would frequently offer grunts, murmurs and encouraging shouts during a a player’s solo, eliciting nods of appreciation from the others.

As a manager of a start-up, don’t be afraid to single out people for innovation and excellence during the process as opposed to once you achieve a big goal. So often during start-up mode we are hustling fast and hard towards a long shot that may be months or a year down the road. We can be so laser-focused on the long term that we lose sight of the small successes happening right now, in the process. You need your team to be on tempo and in sync with you. Appreciate your talent in the moment. You’ll build team loyalty and that is a good thing.

You don’t have time for turnover anyways.

New Start Up Designer Competition

Lauren Bagliore Spring 2011
When IMG sent an invitation to the fashion crowds in Toronto inviting them to attend a “cocktail reception and special announcement” at the Mercedes-Benz dealership, most of us assumed it was a new sponsorship of LG Fashion Week.  After all IMG has steered event management of fashion weeks worldwide and Mercedes-Benz is the title sponsor of many of them (NY, Miami, Berlin). IMG has taken an increasingly active role in Toronto’s shows. Bring on the high-end hot wheels, I thought.
Instead, after the champagne and canapes, they announced a new designer competition called Start Up that will launch this fall at LG Fashion Week’s Spring 2012 event. Only designers in Vancouver and Montreal are invited to compete the first year, though it will expand to other cities in 2012. To be eligible, designers must be in business for less than five years. 
Twenty finalists will make the semi-final round, and four designers will be selected to show their collections at the national final during LG Fashion Week. The winner will enjoy a five month incubation period where they will work with industry mentors to prepare a debut solo show for the Fall 2012 runway.

“The goal is to facilitate a platform for these designers to showcase their talent in a professional setting with access to key mentors from various segments of the industry.”
       – Peter Levy, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of IMG Fashion

Details on application process, judges and industry mentors are forthcoming. What isn’t coming is cash for the winner, sadly. It seems odd to offer a designer competition, a la Project Runway, and not offer cash. Will the industry mentors help raise funds for fabrics and production? What about costs associated with the runway show, does the FDCC absorb that?
If IMG and Mercedes-Benz really wanted to wow us, they would promise the winning designer cash and a slot at an international show. Canada’s proximity and influence from the States makes expansion into the U.S. almost a requirement in business. I’m not positive this will prepare designers for that important step, so for now I’m filing under “wait and see.”
Photo by George Pimentel.