Among all the bra options in the market, it’s amazing to know that women still suffer from bad support, faulty coverage and ugly bra lines. Staci Berner, a stay-at-home mom, experienced these problems firsthand, too. After seeing Oprah’s Bra Intervention episode, she even commissioned a bra professional to find her adequate undergarments, which only left her with a large bill and more uncomfortable bras.
After too many complaints Berner decided to take things into her own hands and literally make her own bra. As a self taught designer who created plus size clothing and wear-anywhere gym clothes, she began researching and testing materials that felt good and worked on her body. Berner created a pattern and later sewed everything on her own to get a Franken-bra that looked awful, but worked magically.
“The prototype looked horrible but it worked,” said Berner. “I didn’t want to sell it but then my mom wanted one, and my girlfriends wanted one because the way we looked in our clothes and felt was amazingly different. I realized other women were probably looking for something like this too and I could bring a good bra to them.”
“We patented it and put a website for it and had 1,000 people signed up before there even was a product to sell,” said Berner. “We got a factory to make it and the product took a life of its own. We promoted online first and sold everything there. Now we’re in about 85 stores in Canada and 60 stores in the US.”
When the‚ business launched‚ in 2008, a total of 13,000 bras were sold. But in the first three months of 2009, Berner has‚ already sold about 6,000 pieces. Averaging sales of 700 bras per month while trying to manage a customer-centered business has become an exciting experience.
“I didn’t want to go to major retailers because I wanted this to have a customer relationship. The people that sell the bra are trained in how to measure and our techniques are different from other bras so we didn’t want to go into big department stores for that reason,” said Berner. “Our product needs to be carefully attended to. We don’t want to be a spanx or be in every single store, we want to keep it slightly manageable and be able to incorporate me and not loose touch with our customers.”
Though the‚ idea ‚ is to keep the business as grassroots as possible, some big names have gotten their hands on the little bra that could. Makeup artist Bobbi Brown, as well as actresses Mary McCormack, star of USA’s In Plain Sight, and Lesley Ann Warren, of Will & Grace, own the undergarment. And because the bra’s design eliminates all visible bra lines or back bulges and comfortably provides superior breast support, the product might not be able to stay under the radar for too long.
Berner assures the attention won’t go to her head, though.
“You know what it is? My ego is not invested in this at all,” said Berner. “I looked at this as my baby, like when my kids do really well I love to see it but I can’t say “ËœI did that.’ I am proud of my product so I don’t look like it is just me succeeding, I am happy that I help women, something I created is helping them, but we women have to stick together and help each other and since I was a little girl my whole being was about making other women feel better.”
The torso-length Ultimate bra, $85, cropped-length Shortee, $75, and midriff mini, $75, are available in nude and black. Made with a breathable cool-tex microfiber that doesn’t bulge, the most amazing thing is that the bra comes in 25 sizes, from a small A cup to a 42 double D, with adjustable straps.
No pain, no ugly look, no hassle? Berner and her clients happily say that it’s all‚ finally true.
“My whole thing is that if it doesn’t help me I’m not making it or wearing it,” said Berner. “Everything that we make will be elastic free and will not give you back bulges and it will make you look better. We take all kinds of things that work in common bras and leave the negative things behind. I think that’s why people really like this, because you don’t want to put something on and say, “Ëœwell this is ok’ no. Instead say, “Ëœyeah this has everything’.”