Our founder, Alex Pluthero, was recently interviewed by Female Founders Weekly - a blog dedicated to sharing the startup stories of female entrepreneurs. For more interviews, visit their website here. We're so excited to share our founder's story!
1) Welcome, Alex! Let’s start with what motivated you to start Wear My Freedom?
I complained about my bras for years. As a 32G, bras were either ugly or uncomfortable, often both. I would complain with other women about the awful patterns and the poking underwires and I couldn’t wait to take my bra off at the end of the day.
I wear a bra every day of my life, give or take the odd Sunday! That’s roughly 24,000 days. There’s hardly another staple in your wardrobe that rivals this figure. Yet we squeeze ourselves into painful, itchy, wired bras because…well…what other options do we generally have? And if like me, you wear above a D cup, then your options are even more limited because most high street brands don’t even sell your size. Why? Because for too long, bras haven’t been designed by women for women. They haven’t been designed with 24,000 days in mind.
It seemed that there were no lingerie companies offering comfort without compromising on style so I thought “I’m going to have to do this myself”. That’s when I really decided I was going to make the world’s most comfortable D+ bra.
2) Tell us a little bit more about the Freedom Bra. When you say “the world’s most comfortable” what do you mean?
I identified the main pain points of bras, you know, the things we all complain most about. They are: the underwire, straps digging in, unwanted bulging, scratchy labels and an ugly design. I wanted to address every area, and make a bra that looked and functioned like a wired bra, without the need for a wire. Naturally, the Freedom Bra is completely wire-free, but still gives the shape and support of a wired bra, something no other company has been able to do. As it’s wire-free, it doesn’t dig in and poke under your armpits and has been designed for long-lasting, all-day comfort. But I didn’t just stop at the wire. The care instructions are printed directly onto the bra, so no need for a scratchy label. I added an underband which distributes weight evenly giving a smooth silhouette and preventing the straps from digging in. We even designed the bra to come to the perfect height on both the neckline and armpit. The finishing touch is the fabric, it’s so soft! It has this buttery skin-feel and I’ve had women say to me “once I felt this bra, I couldn’t wait to put it on!” That’s a far cry from wanting to rip your bra off at the end of the day.
3) Wow, you really have thought of everything! So now that we know why you started it, we’d love to learn more about the practical side of things. How did you get going?
At first, I began testing the hypothesis that you could make a supportive, attractive bra without the need for a metal underwire. So, I taught myself to sew online and began making bras in my living room, hoping that I could make something that looked good, but also felt good too. Once I knew what needed to be done, I quit my job and plunged full time into designing and making the Freedom Bra. Quite quickly I realised I needed some help with technical drawing and a machinist to make samples in order to progress, but I didn’t know anyone. I spent a lot of time trying to find the right people because I had no connection to the industry. A lot of people told me that it wasn’t possible and that “there’s a reason why bras have an underwire”. I knew they weren’t the right people to help me make my bra. After months of searching, I started cold emailing women on LinkedIn and finally, I found my person! I’ve been working with Angela ever since and absolutely would not be where I am today without her.
4) I love how passionate you are! Did you rely on any previous business expertise to help you get started?
I have a degree in economics and took some business classes at university so I understood business finance and unit economics. I can’t say I got a breadth of experience in my corporate job but as a data analyst, I learnt the importance of detail, and excel skills! All of that being said, my determination to make the bra that I had dreamed of is what got me through. That passion is ultimately what makes you the best saleswoman! You don’t need to have all the skills to build a business, there are always people out there to help you. But if you aren’t determined enough, you’ll fall at the first hurdle, and believe me there are many hurdles!
5) What have been your biggest challenges? Were there any moments where you felt like giving up on your business? What motivated you to keep going?
Where do I begin? A terrorist attack that pushed my production back 9 months, or perhaps the global pandemic that caused me to delay my launch? It’s been challenging from beginning to end but I knew, to an extent, what I was getting myself into.
The first big challenge was to find experts in D+ lingerie design and a manufacturer. I had no team, no experience and no contacts in the manufacturing world. So I started where I could, with a bra sketch and a vision to make the world’s most comfortable D+ bra. I went to trade shows, cold-called people, and rang round sample studios in London. After a year and a half, I had a sample, was happy with my design and was ready to move forward with a factory, until a tragic terrorist attack occurred in their city and I didn’t hear from them for 6 months. Then, I really felt like giving up. I felt like I’d exhausted all my energy getting to that point and didn’t know what to do.
Clearly, I had something left in me and after scrambling to find someone to make my bras, I was able to proceed with my original factory and set my launch date for 6th March 2020. No-one could have predicted what 2020 would hold and as my factory closed down once again I’ve had to accept those things that I can’t control. My excitement to share with other women the bra that I’ve been designing for 2 years keeps me going. Messages from women telling me they can’t wait to try a Freedom Bra also let me know that I’m on the right track.
6) How has starting this business changed your life?
Starting a business alone makes you realise so many things about yourself. Yes, it’s allowed me to be really flexible and be my own boss, but how it’s really changed my life is through what it has taught me. It allowed me to discover parts of myself that previously I wouldn’t have said were my forte, like creativity. I’ve been able to learn a new industry and everything that comes with garment manufacturing and I’ve met some amazing people on the way. I’ve learnt skills that they don’t teach you at school and that you often aren’t encouraged to explore in a big corporate environment. You really get to know yourself, your biases, and your strengths.
7) What’s your best piece of advice to other women starting a business?
Do it! Be smart, be realistic, do research, take risks, put yourself out there and don’t underestimate the power of connections. If you’re thinking of starting a business, you’re in for a ride! It’s hugely challenging but can be immensely rewarding and you’ll learn a lot. Starting might feel like an overwhelming task but if you have an idea that you feel strongly about I would always advise to go for it. Start with what you know and keep putting one foot in front of the other - before long you’ll look back and be shocked at how far you’ve come. You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org - I might know someone who could help!