One of the reasons consumers fall in love with D2C brands is that they often have a great story, like a founder’s crusade to solve a problem in a whole new way.
With MINDD, Helena Kaylin is on that kind of mission, making beautiful and comfortable bras for large breasts.
Kaylin spent a few decades in the intimates industry -- including designing products at Victoria’s Secret, Under Armour and Lululemon -- so she knows how big the problem is.
“Two thirds of American women wear a bra that is a size D or larger, and many don’t even know it,” she says. And while many brands make bras in those larger sizes, they just don’t work the way they’re supposed to.
Kaylin, a 36DD herself, finally got fed up and started MINDD with a first round of financing from friends and family. Her goal? “What Lululemon did for yoga pants, MINDD will do for bras.”
She built her prototype after meeting with more than 100 women, and quickly learned that the bra of their dreams is wireless, offering the support and comfort of athletic bras.
“Bras shouldn’t be reshaping you or constraining you -- they should be supporting you,” she says. Her design uses seven zones of support and multiple fabrics. “Wearing it feels like skinny-dipping,” she says. “There’s this light, amazing lift.”
Ranging from 28D to 42E/F, bras are priced at $68, and manufactured with a focus on waste reduction and sustainability.
Kaylin says she has always loved clothes. Growing up in western Canada, she was the kind of elementary-school kid who had a subscription to Vogue. While her first job was working for a railroad, she was thrilled when a recruiter wooed her over to product innovation at Victoria’s Secret in 2005.
While the locomotives-to-lingerie route might not be typical, constant travel to factories in Asia and Europe provided classical apparel training in design and manufacturing, as did stints at Calvin Klein and Uniqlo.
At Lululemon, she worked on the launch of the high-end Enlite bra, the brand's first high-impact sports bra, and dreamed about finally being able to design a bra specifically for larger sizes. “And while the launch gave us an opportunity to be laser-focused on this C-plus customer,” she says, “I couldn’t get that project across the finish line there.”
That’s when Kalyin first began contemplating doing it on her own. Instead, she moved to Carbon38, an online fashion performance company. “I went there to learn about digital and talking to the consumer through that digital narrative,” she notes.
She believes the women are finally ready for her brand, because of a larger cultural shift to size inclusivity. Many women with larger breasts are overweight and have long been left out of conversations about fashion, fit and style.
And even normal-weight women with large breasts have been pushed to the fringe because bras -- in fact, most clothing -- have typically been made to favor a body type that just doesn’t represent most of the human race.
“People shouldn't be excluded from the fashion realm or from having products that work for their bodies,” she tells D2C FYI. “Women are just blessed with these boobs, but then have to struggle to find a brand that is comfortable, beautiful and that they can relate to.”
Part of the problem is that large breasts are so stigmatized that women often have no idea what size they are. She says that oft-quoted statistic -- that 80% of women don’t know their correct bra size -- is true.
Many are just in size denial. “I’ll often ask women what size they are, and they’ll tell me they are a B or a C, when I can see that they are a D or bigger.”
For now, the plan is to gain word-of-mouth recommendations through influencers. And Kaylin is hopeful early customers will be as enthusiastic as her product testers. “Many of them said, 'It’s so comfortable I’ve been wearing this bra for three days -- I can breathe for the first time.’”