The Mamalode Starter Series is an exciting opportunity for us to introduce you to some of the amazing people we get to meet. Starting something takes enormous amounts of work, faith, help and community. Every week we'll share another story of starting. So, community of Mamalode, read up, get inspired and check out these wonder-folk.
Interview with Madhavi Jagdish, founder of SimpleBra.
Tell us a little bit about your business and how you started it.
The idea for SimpleBra came to me a couple of years ago when I was on vacation in London. It was an unusually warm summer day, and I ventured out to look for some summer clothes and a light wirefree bra. I went from store to store, surprised to find either push-up wired bras that I come to fear, or unlined bralettes that offered no coverage or support.
After returning to San Francisco, I continued my quest for a comfortable wirefree bra. I went to about 30 different stores and websites, ordered about 100 bras in total, and didn't find a single one that fit my needs. I did some research and discovered that wired and push-up bras make up most of the market (70% according to Wikipedia). So I decided to design and make one myself.
You can read the whole story of how it started here.
Who are your biggest influencers? Were your parents entrepreneurial?
My parents are definitely my biggest influencers. They are both pediatricians with their own successful practices. I've watched them run their pediatric clinic since I was a child, managing cash flow, bringing in new patients and giving back to the community. In addition to their full time work, they both have had side businesses—my dad launched an asthma app for the iPhone last year, my mom is a certified baby and toddler yoga instructor and teaches a few classes each month. They are also planning a few new projects: launching a nutrition center and cafe for kids with dietary restrictions, and a training center for pediatric medical students with the latest medical equipment and technology.
I am also influenced by other entrepreneurial and successful people around me: my first boss Lucille Tenazas who established a successful design practice and is one of the prominent graphic designers in the country, my current boss Deena Varshavskaya who has built a $100 million startup through hard work and perseverance and an impeccable work ethic, and my celebrity idol Tina Fey, whose book Bossypants is a must-read for anyone venturing out on their own.
Share with us a total win (brag away!)
My first big win was finding my manufacturing partner, a sweet man named Doug who is in his late 60's and lives in Hong Kong. I had been searching for someone to make the bras for a few months and was ready to give up when I decided to join a sourcing group on LinkedIn—a last ditch effort. I posted in the group, and received an email from Doug the very next day. We spoke, and I knew this was going to be a great partnership. Doug is one of the most positive people I have ever met. He has a few health problems and has undergone several surgeries on his knee (on one of my trips to Hong Kong I actually went to the hospital to meet him). He is always smiling and joking, even when I know he is in pain. He has taught me so much not only about manufacturing, but about how life can be hard sometimes but you can't let it bring you down.
The biggest win of all is satisfied customers. I have had several women buy a bra, and then immediately order two or three more. I've had women photograph themselves wearing the bra, and providing amazing feedback and testimonials! “I wore my Simple Bra (also referred to as my “Space Bra” or “Galaxy Bra”) for the first time and loved it! It's one of the coolest-looking and most comfortable bras I've ever owned, and I was surprised and pleased by its support of 34DDs. I'll definitely be on the lookout for upcoming bras. Thanks for finally making a bra I look forward to wearing.”
“I wore it yesterday! It is so comfortable. And, it is the only real (non maternity) bra I have been successfully able to breast feed in.”
“I feel like I'm wearing nothing…”
Some say that starting a business is like having a baby. What does that mean to you?
I don't have a baby (yet) so I'm not sure how to answer this question. Having seen my friends with kids, I can say that a business is like a baby in that you don't know what's going to happen the next day (good or bad), and you have to have the mental fortitude to deal with whatever comes your way. It's also extremely gratifying in a similar way. Your first customer, your first sale, your first positive review. Each of these moments is precious.
And, like a baby, a business needs your constant attention and love. Even on days when you don't feel like it, you need to find the energy and motivation to make that call or send that email, knowing that you are working towards a bigger goal.
Finally, as they say, it takes a village. I wouldn't have been able to pull this off without the support of my friends and family, especially my husband Abhi. He provides strategic advice, moral support and sometimes even package delivery services!
What's your relationship with Mamalode?
I heard of Mamalode through my friend Emily Mitra who is the sister of one of the founders. I read an interview of her on Mamalode a couple of years ago, and found the writing approachable and fun. I love the concept of a well designed magazine with a monthly theme that's targeted to hip moms (and dads!).