Seeing her pre-teen sister waltz out of a change room in a leopard-print, push-up bra had then-17-year-old Megan Grassell running for the drawing board (well… her dad’s yellow legal pad) and scrimping together her summer job savings.
“I remember thinking that girls needed another option,” says the Wyoming-based founder and owner of Yellowberry bras, two years later. “It dawned on me then that if no-one else was going to make age-appropriate bras for girls, then I would find a way to do it myself.”
Where did you find the confidence to launch Yellowberry? I never once doubted what I was working on. In my gut, listening to my own intuition, this was a concept that just made sense to me. It became a project that I could not stop thinking about, working on, or moving forward with… This was something I didn’t need peer validation for. It was one of the first times in my life that I felt like their opinions were wrong, because they didn’t understand what I was doing. I’ve never felt that conviction about much else, but I did then and still do now.
How did the product develop? When I started I had the Tiny Teton and Tweetheart styles, both of which we still carry today. We have expanded the line substantially, though, and have innovated the fabrics, designs, tags, patterns and everything in between significantly… My biggest learning curve was simply the amount of time and effort that goes into creating a single garment. I really had no idea the people, talent, expertise and number of checkpoints one has to go through to build a product from scratch.
How did you garner support for your brand through Kickstarter? Initially, when I launched this campaign in March 2014, nothing happened… So I reached out to as many people as I could via phone and email, just cold, and introduced myself and my Kickstarter, just asking if they would please share it with their communities. A couple of them did, and then overnight I reached my goal of US$25,000. It was surreal!
What was the best advice you received from mentors? Two words: company culture. A great mentor of mine always talks about the importance of people, and how big of an impact they can have on a small team. We take that into account when hiring someone new, and he is absolutely right.
The models on your site have their backs to us. Was this a conscious decision? It started as a way to just be very conscientious and mindful of a young girl. But it became something bigger than that, which is a true reflection of who we are. Our photography from the back is a way to show that it’s about what you can do and where you can go in your Yellowberry – how it fits and feels when you wear it, not about how it looks to someone else.
Advice for other young upstarts? Put yourself out there, because if the worst answer someone can give you is “no”, then you should always ask the question.