I founded ThirdLove to solve a recurring experience that every woman dreads — bra shopping. I knew we deserved better than the usual routine with handsy saleswomen, bright lights and product that falls apart after a few washes. I thought to myself, there has got to be a better way — a way to use technology to solve the 'fit' issue and a way to design beautiful, high quality bras that fit real women’s bodies.
Our patented sizing technology makes it easy for women to discover their perfect size without having to leave their home. We offer signature ½ cup sizes that can’t be found anywhere else, and 40% of our customers fall into these unique sizes. We use only the highest quality materials including gold hardware, foam fasteners, and luxe fabric to create designs that are comfortable and supportive.
What piece of business building advice has really stuck with you over the years of running your company?
Do something you’re passionate about. Building a business is really hard and there are a lot of valleys along the way. If you're not really excited about what you're building you won't be able to push through the hard times. Your passion will be integral to hiring an amazing team who is equally passionate about the company's mission and vision.
What part of your personality helped you the most with your entrepreneurial journey?
Tenacity. When I was at MIT Sloan I wanted to get a job in retail for the summer. There were no retail companies that were coming to campus and there were very few retail companies that even took summer MBA interns.I knew that I had to get retail experience that summer to have a chance at a great full time offer after school. I put together a list of the top 20 companies in NYC that I was interested in, sent emails to HR and submitted my resume online, but the response rate wasn’t very good. I could have given up, settled, taken a job in another sector.
Instead, I sat down and started cold-calling each company one by one. And it worked. I was connected with the SVP of New Business Development at Aeropostale, eventually securing the summer internship, and then a year later a full time job. So be tenacious — no should never an option!
Why do you think now is the time to be a female entrepreneur? Do you believe that times are changing for the better? Is it harder being a female entrepreneur or do you think it doesn’t really matter?
Being a female founder provides an opportunity to bring a unique view and set of skills to the table. In my experience, investors are looking for passionate leaders who are building something that can impact a really large amount of people, and for crazy ideas that can change the world. My advice to female entrepreneurs is to be okay with not knowing all the answers, you’ll figure it out along the way. Be determined enough to pursue your goals, but be flexible enough to roll with the punches.
What role has mentorship played in your success as an entrepreneur?
Mentorship has been very important to me - one of my earliest mentors was when I was directly out college in Investment Banking. She has been a role model, a sounding board, a reference and a good friend. I’ve tried to pay it forward by doing the same for other women - we must create a strong next generation of young women that have even more opportunities than we did.
Did you look for funding in the past?
Yes, we have raised $13M to date from investors such as NEA, Felicis Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and XG Ventures. Other strategic investors include Lori Greeley (former CEO at Victoria's Secret) and Laurie Ann Goldman (former CEO at Spanx), as well as entrepreneurs Yuri Milner, Keith Rabois, Munjal Shah and award-winning artist NAS.
Why do you think that female owned businesses are a VERY small percentage (that has not been growing) of businesses that get funded by venture capital? What can we do to change that?
I would absolutely love to see those numbers shift, and I think there are a few different ways to go about it — first, more women need to throw their hat in the ring, and it’s our duty to start encouraging them from day one to be entrepreneurial and excited to be the boss. I know I’ve already started with my 3 year old Sloane!
There is a growing trend of more females starting to angel invest, and for those investors to gravitate towards supporting female founders/female focused businesses. I've personally angel invested in a few. However the percentage of both partner-level females at VC firms, as well as female angel investors is still in the low single digits (under 5%!), so we collectively have a lot to do on that front.