Saving 30,000 bras from landfill, with Harper Wilde's founder Jane Fisher
Today we’re learning from Jane, the founder of Harper Wilde.
Founded in 2017, Harper Wilde is a direct-to-consumer, ‘underthings’ brand for women. Frustrated with the over-priced, hyper sexualised intimate apparel industry, Wharton graduates and co-founders Jane Fisher and Jenna Kerner set out to change the conversation by building everyday bras that are ethically made, fairly priced, and comfortable. Beyond the products themselves, Harper Wilde is focused on a larger mission to support and empower future generations of independent women through cause-related and philanthropic initiatives, including a 1% donation of all proceeds to Girl’s Inc. This commitment extends to the company’s environmental responsibilities, with the industry’s only-of-its-kind bra recycling program, “Recycles, Bra”, which to-date has saved over 30,000 bras from landfills.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Yeah, absolutely, so our brand is Harper Wilde, Our tagline is lift up the ladies because we are an online bra company. So we not only lift up your ladies, but we have a social mission part of the business too. That's really core to who we are. That's about giving back to girls education to help lift the next generation of women. Mm I love that lift up the ladies, That's so fun. You guys have such um lots of boob puns with us. Lots of boob puns. I have noticed those on my travels around your website and social media and I appreciate it.
00:03:52Edit It's so funny. They're hard to miss. Right? Yeah, So good. You have a great copywriter, whoever comes up with those ones in the business, let's go back to, you know, circa starting the brand. I think we're talking 2017 ish or maybe even a bit earlier. What was getting you interested in starting this particular business? Where does the lightbulb moment kind of happen for you? Yeah, it was actually back in 2015, the end of 2015 when we first started just playing around with the idea of it. We were my co founder, Jenna and I were in business school together and we had no plans to start a broad company or start a company. So it wasn't like this lightbulb moment of okay, here's the idea, let's run with it. We've always wanted to launch a company, it was much more just noticing what was happening within the retail space. More broadly. Not even specific to lingerie, it was with all these honestly, really boring commodity products in our lives, mattresses, eyeglasses, luggage, socks, razor blades.
00:04:57Edit There was a cool DTc brand focused on millennial customers for each one of these boring products, making it not only cheaper to buy these products but just easier and cooler to have a great experience where you were actually proud to be buying from the brand you were buying from for these. And and we looked at that and saw one of these for each commodity items in our lives except bras. And we were sitting there in class and you know, nice suits and nice shoes and purses. We clearly cared about what we looked like we were willing to spend on ourselves, but underneath it all, you can probably relate to this as a woman that, you know, there was a 10 year old broad under there with a hole in the back band and it was just this weird, I guess like light bulb moment where as you know, we're looking at this slide in a marketing class in business school, looking at what's happening in the retail space and sitting there as a female consumers without a good option for this really, really core commodity products for women.
00:05:58Edit Um, and so that's, that's when it hit us that, that maybe there was an opportunity not that oh, we absolutely need to run with this, but let's explore why there isn't one of these brands, but for bras and maybe there's a very good reason and maybe we shouldn't pursue this path. But obviously we're sitting here today because there was just such a huge opportunity. The industry was enormous. The margins were crazy bag. And there's a huge demand for brands like this. Women weren't proud of where they were shopping from and they weren't excited about shopping for bras, hence why they had 10 year old bras they were wearing. That's how bad of an experience it was. And that's when we decided, okay, there is a big enough opportunity here to explore this even further. That's so cool. And you are like speaking my language, you've tapped into my consumer behavior. 100% to my husband's dismay. Talk to me about that exploration phase. What are you actually doing? You know, how are you kind of like proving out this idea or researching what does that early phase look like for you in exploration?
00:07:06Edit Yeah, It looked like a lot of different things. It wasn't I think one route that we took. Um the biggest thing was what you just said was talking to women that what you said was our personal experience and we wanted to know if we were in the minority or if other women felt this way. So we ran focus groups and just talked to women very open ended without an agenda of with this specific company, with these value propositions appealed to you. It was what helped us shape what the value proposition was and if there was a space in the market for this. So everything from just asking about her current behavior, you know, how many bras you have in your drawer? How many do you wear? How often what kind of broads are they? How do you shop for bras? How frequently do you shop for bras? Why Why not? And what we saw and heard from that and focus groups was that women were not replacing their bras. They had 16 bras in their door on average and we're two of them 90% of the time making your head we all know it's that black or new t shirt bra.
00:08:08Edit Now bro, Oh my God, it's almost embarrassing. You haven't seen my wardrobe, but you're describing it. And men would be like, oh my wife, my girlfriend, she she washes her bras everyday. You know, she doesn't wear the same one without. And we're like not not, you are definitely misled there, you know, we just wear the same one over and over again. And why the reason why they weren't real placing, it wasn't, you know because they couldn't necessarily afford it or something. It was more like the process of going and shopping for that broad again was such a hassle and it costs so much money, she would literally rather do anything else spend on anything else than go bra shopping. And so that's part of kind of like research phase helped inform what we should if we were to build a brand what it should look like. It had to be a very palatable price point. It had to be a really curated option set. So it was easy for her to buy and a brand that she actually was proud to be buying from.
00:09:09Edit We heard a lot of people say, yeah, I go to victoria's secret today, but honestly, I'm so embarrassed. I take that pink bag and I shove it in my work bag. No one sees that. I shopped there. I just go there because it's the only place I know. So that was the real like, okay, we need to create a brand that really stands for her value stands for the modern woman and the current incumbent does not. So that was one side of it, the other was just, you know, is it possible to create a bra that is at that palatable price point? Or would we create something that is not sustainable from a business perspective? You know, assuming the margins are not big enough or for us, we really wanted this to be a huge opportunity in the market and create something really big. And so is the industry big enough. So that's where we did some research around what the industry looks like today. You know, when you're saying you're doing the customer feedback piece, not customer feedback piece, but like the consumer feedback piece Rather when you say you do these focus groups and stuff like that. How many people do you think you spoke too in that process?
00:10:12Edit And I ask this because I feel like it's a piece that's often overlooked. People can go down this like and I'm guilty of this too, going down a rabbit hole of being like yes, like this is the idea, this is the idea. And you just forget to like actually go out and talk to people and be like, well what do you think and what do you like? And what's your experience? Are you talking like you know 10 folks in a focus group or are you talking about like 300 people over the course of six months? Both I would say so focus groups were definitely small. We would probably have 5 to 10 people we talked to at any given time because you wanted to be a very conversational casual setting where people are opening up about this very intimate shopping experience. Right? So it's not something that women actually talked that much to their friends about. You know, we know what our friends are wearing, what lotion they're using. I mean there's so many products we know what our friends are wearing but not bras really. So we needed to create an intimate environment where people felt comfortable opening up. But we ran a lot of those. We also, there are some things that are great for a focus group.
00:11:15Edit There are some things that are great for a survey. You know what I have talked a lot about a palatable price point but what is that exactly? And how do you measure what people are willing to pay? That was a whole separate analysis that we did through surveys. So you know in aggregate yes hundreds of people in those focus groups definitely a smaller 5-10 person range I'd say. And getting yourself, you know from this kind of early research phase and exploration phase two launch, which I think was around 2017. What else are you doing to get the brand ready? Like how does that kind of translate into being like okay let's actually do this, let's start a business, let's go make some product. What happens after that phase? Yeah so a few different things I'd say like the big thing we worked on that was ahead of launch was we ran this um so at the time we believed that we should offer free home try ons because a lot of what we heard was women didn't like going in store but they weren't sure what their size was.
00:12:18Edit So we said okay let's bring the dressing room home to her. And we wanted to test that and we wanted to test a lot of attributes about that. How many should we allow her to take home? What type of bras should we make even down to what should the company be named? So we ran a it was almost like a replica of free home triumph but the in person M. V. P. Form of that. So we worked with our marketing professors to help lay this out. But what we did was we had women come over to my house in philadelphia and we replicated the online experience. So we laid out, we bought hundreds of bras. We floated the money on my parents credit card because it was a lot of bras. We bought bras similar to what we felt like. We were probably going to end up producing ourselves new t shirt bras. Really simple no added embellishment and bought from some pretty you know big brands at the time where people were buying from and so we said okay let's lay them out on a table, let's show them front and back, just like you would see front and back on a website. Don't let them touch or feel. It just like you can on a website show price but not brand.
00:13:20Edit We don't want them to be influenced by um Calvin klein brand for instance because we're not going to be selling Calvin klein bras so we don't need to test that and then we let them take home three or five bras because at that point that was a variable we were testing um and we took their phone numbers just like you would take someone's credit card and then a week later we had drop off locations like their USPS drop off locations where they could return their bras to us and if they returned, they weren't charged anything and if they kept, they were charged for what they were kept through Venmo just through their phone number. That's so cool. And then we returned everything. Yeah, it was fun. It was really fun. And you know, we said to them, hey, you know, it's actually not helpful to, we know you're doing this to help us out. It's not helpful if you behave in a way that is not real. Um you know, if you're taking home bras just because you think it's helping us um that's that's actually not helpful because we need to understand how you would actually behave in real life. Um And that was like the last big step I'd say that we took before we we started putting money towards the business where we started investing in R.
00:14:28Edit And D develop our own bras. We started working on our website, some more substantial work that required us, you know, taking a big step after that. But that showed us some level of appetite for um the company generally the value proposition generally, and then it helped inform some of the decisions within that how many bras we let them take home what the price point should be, what the bras should look like. And then it also, you know, you learn a lot of stuff along the way that you didn't even think you would be learning or asking about, but just by, you know, having that kind of um test run you, you end up surfacing things you otherwise wouldn't. That is so cool. So cool. My gosh, what did you learn that you weren't expecting or what did you uncover? That was interesting. I think that one of the biggest, unexpected pieces was around the bras themselves. Um so I think that prior to that we hadn't focused as much on such a curated selection as being a huge part of the value proposition.
00:15:33Edit In retrospect, it makes a ton of sense even in store you and I don't like sorting through hundreds of different bra styles. You're kind of like, it's the same thing as razor blade. I'll and cbs, you're like, I don't know, you're comparing boxes, you're like, is it the aloe strip that's different about this one? Like, you know, you're like, I don't really care. Is it going to shave me? I'd rather get on with my life and get out of this CVS same deal right online even more so you can touch and feel the bras. Um I think through that test that we did, it became very clear to us how critical that was. That simple assortment being a north star of ours as something that was important to her. You know, make it the best t shirt bra, make the best strapless bra the best bra lead and and do the work for me. So I don't have to sort through these things myself and then some specifics about the bras themselves that people liked? You know, there was one that had some kind of um it was a distinct quality about it. Um but it wasn't like a Rhinestone or like a red bright red bra that like let it um that made it clear.
00:16:39Edit It was from that brand. But there's something beautiful about it. Something about, I can't remember exactly and and we learned from her that, you know, there was something about, you know, something nice about the bra, just how it looks. That is still in important. And so that's why we have an X between the cups on our wired bras because you know, there needs to be something between the cups. Anyway, it's not added gems or rhinestones, but it's really beautiful the way it sits on her body. Oh my gosh, that is so interesting and so cool. What a fun process to be kind of going through in that early phase, which kind of leads me to. And you, you've touched on this is the money piece. You know, obviously you said you had to invest in R and D. And I assume that took some time and some capital and the website and you know, you were obviously adding in that layer of being able to ship things and then, you know, the try on at home model, which I'm sure adds another layer of complexity. What did you need to invest yourselves to get started and how were you thinking about funding and the money piece in the beginning?
00:17:42Edit As in like were you thinking we already know we're going to have to raise or we're aiming to bootstrap this baby forever or what's the vibe? Yeah a few different things about how we were building the company and where we wanted the company to go informed our choice of going the VC route, but I am a strong believer in that not necessarily being the necessary route to take. I think it can be glamorized a bit and it's almost today like the more you raise, the better you're doing and that's just one part of the picture how efficiently you're using capital, like you know why did someone need to raise that much money? I think it's a really important question. But you know, it's like if there's a splashy techcrunch $50 million raise, that's you kind of just take that as oh they're doing great and you know I think there's a lot a lot a lot of benefit to bootstrapping and and or bootstrapping in the early days and taking VC money later we took the V. C. And I think you know the criteria with which you should filter to decide has a lot to do with like how much up front capital you need to get the business off the ground, how much capital you personally have to support that or not.
00:18:56Edit And then what the end goal of the business is because the VC route is a high growth, you know, I think like really, really quick growth process where there is an exit that needs to happen um, and it needs to happen pretty pretty quickly. So it's you know, going public or getting acquired and that's the track you're on. And for us that was the right approach for a few reasons. One we had to manufacture overseas because the way that underwire foam cup bras are made, those are made overseas. We had the luxury of working with one of the largest manufacturers in the world for bras and underwear, which was unbelievably powerful in the early days, it did mean we had high minimum order quantities. So the smallest amount we had to buy was pretty high on top of that. We are in business schools, We personally didn't have any money. What was it? Would you like to share them order quantities for like that kind of industry at that time? Honestly, I don't remember and it's also pretty complex because you have, it's not just like, oh you have to buy 10,000 bras, there's minimums by size, there's minimums by style and there's minimums by color and so you have to map that all against each other to see.
00:20:09Edit And so for decisions so complicated. So for a decision like ours of, okay, we want to launch the company with two nude colors and a black at least because representation of different shades of skin tone is important to us. Um, what's the very, very minimum? We can launch with two at least. Okay, and then a black, we needed to have the right there. We had three colors across all three styles that we were launching. So even in a minimum, okay, let's launch as few styles as possible, as few colors as possible. You still, you know, it kind of has this compounding effect with minimums. So that was part one. we didn't have much personal money because we're in business school. Um, so it's not like we were working while doing this. Um, and then on top of it for Jenna and me are our goal for the company. And North Star always is to be the next market leader of intimate. That's not a small vision that is to take on victoria's secret, that's worth billions of dollars.
00:21:14Edit And that means moving fast, Growing quickly and growing to be really, really big. And so with that in mind and personally we were really excited about the idea of a fast pace career lifestyle that we would have that would be growing something very, very quickly and be high stress, high reward. So for those reasons we said, okay, let's raise VC money from the start, we just did a really small round a few 100,000 but we're able to get enough to really get us off the ground and that's, We use that money to launch the company in 2017. I really love and admire when people are so clear on their like personal goals for life and building a business in the beginning and you audit yourself and being like, yeah, I want it to be fast paced, I want it to be high stress, I want that route for that high reward versus like not being sure and going with the flow and figuring out as you go or potentially going down the VC route and then realizing like, heck, like I really am not into this life. It's something that we talked about on the show quite often.
00:22:16Edit It's like you really do need to audit yourself and you need to audit things as well. Like, you know, is your goal to make money immediately. Like if it is, maybe you shouldn't quit your job just straight away or like, you know, depending on what your goals are, you really need to like reverse engineer the pathway, which is very cool on the topic of fundraising. I did read that you had some funny stories about how you turned these knows that you were getting and you were getting quite a few nos into yeses could we kind of like touch on that while we're on the money base. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know the obvious or maybe not obvious the thing we were up against was the VC world is heavily male, uh, waited and we are selling a product that's typically for women. So simply put a lot of the people we were pitching, we're not users of the product. And that's not just, they didn't wear bras. They weren't millennial women who felt the shame of going into a victoria's secret, who felt the need for a brand that represented them in this way.
00:23:24Edit So that was always something we were up against. And so the initial way we tried to break through that was through humor and breaking the ice and bringing them along the journey and said, imagine if you had to shop for boxers, the way we shop for bras. You know, you walked into a store, there was naked men all over the walls in like very over sexualized positions and underwear. Um, you know, maybe a question if your body was good enough, you got to the wall saw hundreds of different options for your boxers. You finally picked some, took them to the dressing room, tried them on, someone came in the dressing room with you made sure everything was fitting in there just right. Then you check out its $70 for a pair of boxers. You get them home, You put it on with the suit, you're wearing to a big meeting the next day and it shows through your pants. Like imagine going through that and it certainly broke the ice. But what I would say it did was it really took them to this narrow, narrow story that, you know, we kind of got them on board with it, but it was making them think small and where we changed our pitch for the better is we pulled them out and we said big picture and we almost said, forget that it's a bra, you know, look at retail more broadly, kind of where, where you and I started this conversation, right?
00:24:39Edit Like look at every single commodity product in our lives, socks, razor blades, mattresses, and look at the old school brands that are there to me, luxottica and look at the new digitally native brands that have taken their place and there isn't one of these for bras, victoria's secret is here and there's not something replacing it today, imagine, and by just changing their view, they're all of a sudden you can imagine it was so much bigger picture, It was comparing us to Casper the dollar shave club and saying there's gonna be another one of these, get onboard versus taking them into the dressing room, which, you know, in retrospect, was a little more small minded way to think about it. But yeah, it was, you know, I think that positioned us better to, you know, we had to, I think be a little more up front than probably we were used to or comfortable with with our pedigree and why, you know, we were capable of running this company of starting this brand and you know, bringing broads to a meeting, A lot of men would like refused to touch them.
00:25:41Edit I don't know what they thought was wrong with them, but you know, it was, I think it was just like pulling out from the specifics of what? Yeah. Oh my God, there were so many things I wish I knew when I started my business, smaller things like blocking off my calendar for focused work and bigger things like investing in tools that help automate the busywork from building out your website to building up your sales pipeline, hubspot suite of operations, sales and marketing tools help automate and connect different parts of your business so you and your team can ditch the busy work and focus on creating the best customer experience possible. Plus with helpful educational content, a supportive community and access to hundreds of app integrations, hubspot, all in one platform is built to grow with, you learn how to grow better by connecting your people, your customers and your business at hubspot dot com. Okay, so you raise the money, you've got a few 100,000 to get started. How does the launch go? How do you launch with a bang?
00:26:43Edit And what is that first year in business like? Yeah, I think that especially in talking with you, you know, about 30 minutes ago and hearing more about what's helpful to hear. I think the reality is that there isn't really a bang and someone told us that ahead of launching, they said, you know, you've been working so, so, so hard and you're viewing launch day as the end and the floodgates open and water starts pouring in and it's all great, and that doesn't really happen for anybody. It takes a ton of work to build a brand, to build a um a consumer base and build the trust with the customer, right? Um so I think that's like the very healthy reality to here because when you have these expectations that it just takes off like crazy and then you're not met with that, you find it to be really weird when actually it's very very normal. So we launched, I mean, we had a very exciting launch, you know, we did a lot of pr around the launch, we got into the new york times and some like very, like I could have only ever dreamed of kind of launch moments, but then it took work, it was a lot of work from there to figure out how to grow the company because you move beyond that initial ring of friends and family and the friends and family, friends, and then you're into stranger territory and that's where it becomes really hard because you're educating them on the brand and why they should buy from you.
00:28:09Edit And I think one of the biggest learnings we had from a marketing perspective in those days was to not try to do it all to just focus on one thing and do it, do it well and it doesn't really matter which one thing you're picking, one channel that you're focusing on. I mean be thoughtful about it, you know, don't advertise on Tiktok if your average customer ages 85 but pick a channel, that makes sense for your customer base and just do it well because we tried to do everything. Any opportunity that came our way gift baskets for a conference here partnership over there, You know, we were trying to do it all and if for instance, we had just focused on facebook and making facebook ads more efficient, that could have probably been a better use of our time and that's where we ultimately landed. But to your point earlier on, you know, really small teams in the early days, not a ton of resources. Um, when you take those small amount of resources and spread them really thin, that fragmented approach leads to nothing actually being done well.
00:29:12Edit Mm. Yeah, that's such a great piece of advice, pick a channel, keep really focused and keep chipping away day after day. If you had to kind of distill, you know, in a dot point form, the pivotal moments and the milestones from, you know, starting or figuring out the facebook ad piece of the puzzle to today. What are those moments in your story? What's the blueprint? Yeah, it's a good question. I don't, you know, I think again like being very real with you. I think it's a lot of small moments um that come together and aggregate that makes something happen. It's not one silver bullet that allows the company to take off. It's a lot of things happening at the right time altogether. Team members coming together, we did decide to turn off our free home try on part of the business. Um It was probably about two years into the company and that was a very pivotal moment because we pivoted the focus of the company. We always sold bras normally as well. But a lot of our customers came through free home try on and it was great in the early days because for free we got bras into people's hands and when people touch and feel our bras, they are insanely soft and they are immediately sold.
00:30:26Edit But it's hard on one. You can't get that across in a way that you can in person. So for two years in the early days we were able to get product into people's homes. It was great. But there was a lot of complexity that came with that the data was super complex. The accounting was very complex. There was a lot of fraud and so at that point we decided to test turning it off and seeing how much it impacted things like cac and conversion rates and it didn't really impacted, it basically got rid of the fraudulent customers and the customers who, who shouldn't have been our customers, the really cheap ones. Um and it kept the people that, you know, they were more than happy to buy online and just return anything they didn't want. So I think that was a really pivotal moment for us and they're, you know, there've been a few like really exciting marketing moments when kristen bell posted about us like a year or so ago and you know, you could watch on the back end of our Shopify site like light, they show a map of the world and um, it lights up where anyone is on your site and it just started lighting up everywhere and orders were coming in like crazy.
00:31:31Edit So that was a very cool moment that stands out. But otherwise, you know, it's really about these small moments, these hires that you make as the team grows as you learn little things as you test little things along the way that really make it what it is today. Yeah, absolutely. It's like the, just taking that tiny action every single day over a long period of time, you look back and you realize it's all compounded and that's why everything's working versus like shooting for that one silver bullet where you just think like that's going to make something work and you know, I've been countless times thinking that something's gonna work by doing this one major thing and then it doesn't work out and you're like, damn it, like, yeah, I wish that agency was going to fix my problems, but it doesn't, it's the small, tiny steps. I totally get it. What's working for you now when it comes to marketing? What's a really exciting kind of space for you? I Just watched like every single Tiktok video that you guys have and lulled for like a good 20 minutes straight, what's working for you?
00:32:42Edit Yeah, so there's one thing in particular that we're leaning into that's working quite well, which is our capsule programs. I think the and I'll explain them, but I think the bigger theme there is the brand positioning is really working well. You know, in 2015 we really believed there was an opportunity to create. the brand that we have today. Um but it was pre women's marches, Me Too, Time's up movement. It was, you know, pre a lot of this wave that now we're riding and and there really is this motivation behind consumers to buy from a company whose values they believe in. And so it's from the female empowerment side of the business to the sustainability aspect of the business. We have a whole recycling program that people are very excited about. And so in a crowded market and and not just crowded with other intimate brands, but just we're all very busy. You scroll through your instagram, there's a ton of ads there, how do you actually stand out?
00:33:43Edit And what we found is when you stand for something you stand out and that means taking a stance and sometimes um upsetting some people. But the people who are brought into your vision into your values are then obsessed with you and very, very loyal. And so the capsule programs is a tactical manifestation of that because what we do is we take our bras and we embroider a phrase on them. Um and we normally work with with some partner who helps to collaborate to to decide what that phrase is. So for example, the first one that we did was a Ruth Bader Ginsburg bra. Um it said when there are nine, her famous quote of when there would be enough women on the Supreme Court, you know why not all women, There have been all men for the longest time. And a portion of those proceeds from those bras went to a group called She should run that helps get women into office. And so in buying this bra, you were buying into your values are values, you are standing for something.
00:34:45Edit So it really took you know, buying from harper Wilde as a brand that you believe in um that stands for something to the next level. It was like I actually can wear this bra. And when I go to put it on, when I'm looking at my Broad or it's it's kind of like the modern day lace, you know, you wear it to feel great about yourself when I see that empowering quote, we've had people write in for different bras that they have and say I was so nervous about that meeting that I had and then I saw this Broad and I put it on, I felt like so empowered and that's so cool and we've done so many of these. So we saw such a huge success with those. That's how Kristen Bell ended up posting someone in her network was one of the partners who we worked with on one of these. She so strongly believed in the quote that was on the bra. The woman who had made that quote happened on our bras that she got one and she organically said this is awesome. You know, I want to shout about it from the rooftops and that's when you know you have a brand. People are excited to talk about when it really stands for what they believe in when it's more than just the bra is really comfortable.
00:35:50Edit But that is the part of it, right? We get them because they bought because they bought into whatever the capsule initiative is about. But then they get the ball and they're like, oh my God, this bra is so comfortable. I need to buy five more of them. That is so cool. It definitely makes me want that bra and specifically that is obviously not around anymore. Like that ruth Bader Ginsburg bra. And it also makes me think oh my gosh, people are never going to be throwing out their bras like yeah, they're gonna be keeping them For the next 15 years. Um do you have any cool partnerships that you can shout about that are coming up some cool ones. So we have one live right now. That's with Deep D from the show, Love is blind. And so if you didn't watch it, she at the end of her um relationship there decided to choose herself, which was a very powerful moment and has really taken off and so we partnered with her to create a bra that says I'm choosing myself and that was a really cool partnership and very successful.
00:36:52Edit It's so in line, it's so her and it's so us and that's when those really take off when you're not forcing a round peg square hole. But it's naturally, hey, our brand has always prioritized you. We make bras that are comfortable for you. They're not made for anyone else to see you in there made so that you can be comfortable in your skin and physically comfortable in the bras that you're wearing. Um and you know, her really powerful moment was about choosing herself and prioritizing herself. So how cool to have. You know, the two of us come together and it's been very successful. Oh my gosh, that's so cool. I'm gonna check it out immediately after this. What do you think is important advice for entrepreneurs in 2022, I always found that it was important to not be totally discouraged by all the nose. Um, a lot of people tell you why your idea is bad. Um, and that's not saying don't listen to them, but don't, don't just take it and shut down and say, okay, I guess I shouldn't start my company listen to what they're saying.
00:38:00Edit Listen to who they are, see if you putting it through your filter of what you believe and why you're pushing this idea if you want to listen to parts of it or all of it to help inform how you should shape things go forward. A lot of people have really helpful things to say, but a lot of times people are saying no for a reason that it hasn't been done before, maybe it's too hard. Maybe there are opposite, you know, that's probably an indication that it could be something good to go into because other people have found it too hard to do it before. So if you have the resilience and grit to push through, this could be a great opportunity. I think one moment that really has always stood out to me, it was during business school we had this idea, we were so energized, nothing had physically come from it. We barely had a pitch deck, right? But we were just so excited about the idea of it and then a competitor in the space, raised some money and they were called the Warby parker of bras and some pr was written about them and I was like, it's over, we're done, Someone else is doing it. And I was in a class that was all about actually taking action on the business you were working on and I came in, it was a small class and the professor and I were close and he said, you look really upset what's going on jane.
00:39:11Edit And I said, you know, this just happened. And he was like, oh my God, this is incredible. And he takes, he googles it finds the article and projected on the screen in front of everyone and I'm dying. I'm like purple, I'm like, how could you humiliate me like this. Like we're done, the company is over. And he was like, guys, guys, guys gather around the best thing just happened to jane, look at this, look at this. And I'm like, what is wrong with this guy? And his point was look like this just gave you all the validation you could have ever wanted about your idea. Real money, Real VC money is going behind a similar idea in the space the execution for you is going to be totally different. Like we knew about this brand of course. So it's not like we had said, oh my God, we hadn't heard of them there, We saw them and he said, there's still space for us in the market because we're going to do it differently in X, Y and Z ways and we believe there is space for that. And his point was, you know, you're going to execute on it, your brand is going to be entirely different, your value proposition is going to be different and you know how to do that better than these guys do.
00:40:12Edit But this just proved to you that there's opportunity in that space, which is really exciting. And that was, it was specific about the funding of this other competitor, but it can be applied across a number of different times when you're feeling down about the way things are panning out and just try to understand why something is happening. And if it is actually constraining to your growth or your path to continue to build the business or not, that is such a great piece of advice. Thank you so much for sharing it. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode. We are testing out something new here for the next while and we're splitting up each episode into two parts, the main interview part and then the six quick questions part to make them easier to listen to. So that's part one done, tune into part 2 to hear the six quick questions.
So question number one is what's your why? Why are you doing what you're doing, lift up the ladies? I think sums it up, You know, I think that I don't have a love for bras. We started the company because we hated bras, we hated shopping for bras. That's that's why harper Wild exists. But it was it's about so much more than just selling a ton of bras. It's about creating a new brand that stands for the modern woman.
00:01:14Edit And when we thought about young girls looking to victoria's secret as what beauty is. That was a really painful reality for us. And so it's all about creating a brand that empowers the women of today as well as the women of tomorrow and gives them a new face of beauty, that they're actually excited about that empowers them. That doesn't discourage them. Amen Question. Number two is what's been your favorite marketing moment so far? I think that Kristen bell moment was really special. It also was right in the midst of the pandemic starting up. So to have this real moment of excitement and just team morale building even though we're all sitting trapped in our homes um to be able to feel that between the team. Even remote I think just speaks to how exciting of the time it was. Mm That would have been so great. So amazing. Question # three is what's your go to business resource?
00:02:19Edit If you have to think about like a book or a newsletter or a podcast. I think honestly normally I go to advisors and even team members. Um the first place that I think you get like this real operating experience that's very real, very actionable, takes into account all the challenges. So if there's something within our supply chain that's really difficult to solve you know we are fortunate enough to have the former ceo victoria's secret on our board of advisors. We worked with the former S. V. P. Of production and sourcing at victoria's secrets. So I was just on the phone with her yesterday picking her brain. I think the podcasts are helpful that I listen to. But I think what's different about yours that I really love is how real it is. And that's the difference that I seek out to make sure that it is actually real. It's actionable versus kind of painting a pretty picture that actually doesn't help because how do I use that when in reality, that's not how it actually plays out totally.
00:03:23Edit Thank you, by the way, question number four is how do you win the day? What are your am or PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and motivated and successful? Yeah, um I mean being physically active is really important to me and I learned that the hard way with the pandemic where I wasn't as physically active and realized that it was taking a hit, so biking has been a big thing for me and my fiancee, we picked that up over the over the pandemic, we live in southern California, so that we're lucky enough that the weather is often very nice and we live by some like really beautiful areas to bike, so that is really important to me. I also got a dog like every other millennial and the pandemic and I think that that's not the same. I think that that's just awesome that forcing you to get out right, like you, you have to walk, you have to move, you have to go to the park and he just brings a ton of joy to my life. Also just like I think just forcing taking breaks, even if it's a random monday that you take off, it never, ever, ever feels like a good time to take a vacation.
00:04:33Edit I always feel guilty about it, but being able to come back and feel rested and feel reenergized whether that's traveling somewhere. I think it is just so, so, so critical. So I always encourage that with my teams. Yes, I'm so on board with that. I think like my husband and I were talking about this the other day, we want to actively build in taking like every second friday, like no matter what kind of just off and just being out and taking that longer weekend, even if you did it every week, fine whatever. But just making sure that every second week it's like part of the ritual and looking in like that day of just like nothing. I'm excited for it. Question #5 is what's been your worst money mistakes in business, Worst money mistake in business so many. So I think the first thing that comes to mind is um, Because we didn't buy enough inventory when the pandemic hit, I don't know if I would have changed this because the risk reward was really tough at the time.
00:05:37Edit But basically in March 2020, every piece of advice from us almost ubiquitously was hunkered down and, and hope for the best. Um, don't buy a ton of inventory, assume everything's going to shut down. Your factory is going to shut down your three pl warehouse is going to shut down the carriers, the USPS is going to shut down, you're not going to be able to sell any bras, get any bras and just try to figure out how to survive. And fortunately for us actually, the pandemic was quite good for business. You know, a lot of people moved to shopping online, relevant product was still extremely relevant, um, underwear, you still needed it. And our price point became even more relevant as people were losing jobs were more conscious of their bank accounts are sharp. Price point became even more relevant. So things totally took off and as a result, you know, to have to ordering inventory is like turning around a cruise ship when you want to change direction. So it takes a long time and the decisions you make here nine months later have an impact that, you know, it's hard to switch.
00:06:38Edit So I wish we had bought more inventory because we were at a stalk. But like I said, hindsight is 2020 there. I don't know if I would have taken, you know, I think it was still the world was such in such question at that time. The other thing, which is just a very, very, very common thing for founders to feel is I wish we had taken more money at different fundraising points when we had the opportunity to, I think you always kind of under forecast how much you need to get to the next milestone and having more buffer to be able to figure things out would have been great investors told us that, that, that's how their founders have always felt, you know, everyone kind of tells you that and it's hard to actually do it in the moment. So many great pieces of like insights there, just those little nuggets that are so interesting, thank you so much. Last question question number six, I love to just end on a crazy story, good or bad or anything in between. What is just a crazy story from the journey, crazy story.
00:07:45Edit So many things are coming to mind. I mean Jenna and I, when we first started the company, we were emailing this factory in sri Lanka and like in the early days we were totally making stuff up, We made up the gmail accounts that we were emailing from, we like tried to be, you know, very much like put on this air, like we knew what we were talking about and we've been emailing with this factory and we were like, we don't know anything about, we need to go over there, we need to see are these people legit is the factory in ethical conditions, like, let's go over there and see. So we flew over there and it was unbelievable. It's like they produced for huge brands. So you can imagine the working conditions and the factory was just one of the coolest things I've ever seen, We were learning about really nerdy lean operation stuff within our operations classes in business school and it was, they were showing us in action, There was very, very cool, but jen and I were totally out of our element. And there was one point where like, our account manager um was kind of managing everything and and their compliance team came in and said, you know, hey, can I talk to the person on in your compliance department?
00:08:55Edit You know, we need to talk about X, Y Z test that we're going to run on your product and you know, we thought we had put on this great front that we would have not just a someone in compliance, the whole compliance department, you know, and it was just the two of us, there's literally no one else, and the account manager was like, no, no, you don't understand, this is compliance, this is accounting, this is marketing, you're looking at the whole team is just like this moment where we thought we had, like, totally fooled them and like, it turns out they definitely knew what a small brand we were. Oh my God, that's so long. Also makes it so much cooler that you were like, having that moment to work with them in the first place, and they were like, yeah, I still love what you're doing. Yeah, we see through it, it's kind of a relief, totally. The facade is up. No, it's down, the facade is down anyway, whatever you know what I'm saying, this was so much fun jane, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your journey with harper Wild, What a cool story. Thank you so much. Thanks so much for having me.