Earlier in life, our petite power figure Emily Lau was a television writer/producer in California, forever on the prowl for bras that served her 32B chest. She could only find “glorified training bras” or those with “push-up padding that felt like pillows on straps,” she said. “Nothing really fit my smaller body type properly. I wanted a bra that gave me shape as well as looked good, especially when I wore wrap dresses and deep V-neck T-shirts. I still wanted to look like my natural self, just with a little more cleavage.”
Ninety-nine percent of us would have given up and settled for either uncomfortable or unattractive bras, but not Emily. Somewhere inside her, a wire tripped; she believed she could do better by women like herself. So in May 2007, The Little Bra Company—where “good things do come in small packages”—was born.
“I loved my career, but I had a real passion for lingerie that I’m happy I pursued.” As are we.
Among lingerie devotees specifically and appreciators of beauty and style in general, Dita Von Teese needs no introduction. She is an iconoclast and an icon, a modern muse and of another era entirely, a larger-than-life dynamo in a soft-spoken, petite package.
Born Heather Sweet, the self-described “mediocre-looking blonde girl from a farming town in Michigan” fell under the spell of Hollywood’s Golden Age of Cinema and, at a time when the rest of America’s youth was grunging out in flannel and combat boots, set out to remake herself in its raven-haired, red-lipped image. When she discovered that many of the glamorous screen sirens she admired were also dancers, she adopted her stage name and learned the art of the striptease. Since 1992, Dita has been synonymous with burlesque and can be single-handedly credited with its revival. Everything she touches, from her Swarovski crystal-bedecked sets and couture costumes to her lingerie collection and new hosiery line—reflects her impeccable eye for detail.
This past month, hours before the final sold-out New York performance of her latest show, “The Art of the Teese,” Dita visited Bare Necessities to tell us firsthand about her collection—both iconic styles (like Madame X) and new additions (like her Instagram fan-selected shade of emerald green)—and how she turned herself into a Power Figure. Read on for our exclusive interview.
Truss (noun): structural frames based on the geometric rigidity of the triangle
Trussed (verb): tied, bound or fastened
Trust (noun): confidence; a thing on which one relies
Bras are impressive feats of architecture in their own right, but they haven’t changed all that much in the last, oh, century. That is, until Trusst Lingerie came along.
The renegade bra company was co-founded a little over two years ago by Sophia Berman, CEO, and Laura West, chief product officer. This month’s Power Figures studied industrial design at Carnegie Mellon University, met later in life at a design firm and—both crafty and interested in textiles—soon found themselves wondering if bras couldn’t stand to be improved. Reinvented, even.
“We were talking about how much bras suck, how the underwires stab you, straps dig, and we said, ‘There’s got to be a different way to do this,’” said Laura. “The underwire isn’t a totally flawed system, but we knew there was room for improvement—for all women.” The general public seemed to agree: Their 2015 Kickstarter campaign raised $80,000, flying past the $25,000 goal they set.
Seventeen years ago, when Freddy Zappe started answering the phones at the bra company that would become Eveden—renowed for its full-bust brands including Elomi, Fantasie, Freya and Goddess—she hadn’t the slightest idea what she was doing. Today, she’s among the most revered bra fit experts in the world.
A model-dancer-actress accustomed to traveling the world, Freddy had zero sales or lingerie experience, but when her mother was diagnosed with cancer, Freddy returned to New York to be with her. “I had to work for my own sanity. You can’t sit by someone’s bedside constantly; they don’t like it. I thought I’d do it for a few months and see what happened.”
What happened is this: Freddy became a Power Figure. She’s still traveling the world, this time as Eveden’s national fit specialist. Every day, she asks of herself, her industry and the women she meets the same question: How can I fix this?
“It’s endlessly fascinating,” Freddy says. “Women come in all shapes and sizes, and because we have the tools to fit full bust and full figure—we now go from A to K cup, from a 28 band to a 56 band—we can fit virtually everyone.” Here’s how….
You may recognize Rosie Pope from her 2011 Bravo reality TV show Pregnant in Heels (baby bump + stilettos = reason enough to qualify as a Power Figure in our book), but she’s been making a name for herself in the super-competitive parenting space since before her first son was born in 2008. Now a mom of four, she runs RosiePope.com, an empire that includes maternity, nursing and baby clothes and accessories, bi-coastal MomPrep classes, an NYC-based parenting concierge service, 3 boutiques and a column in Parents magazine.
To celebrate the debut of her chic, affordable new line of nursing bras on barenecessities.com, we picked Rosie’s brain for insights into her mastery of running a business while running on caffeine, reframing the notion of balance and what really matters when bringing up a baby.
Eradicating the scourge of breast cancer is simply another day at the office for Dr. Leah Gendler. The renowned medical oncologist and breast surgeon spends each of her 14-hour workdays deftly excising tumors in the operating room or counseling breast cancer patients on what should be their next lifesaving move. That’s why we’re honored this Power Figure gave Bare it All so much of her valuable time to share what drives her forward and what gives her hope.
As our Power Figures monthlong series continues, we managed to snag a coveted slot on Bari Seiden-Young’s jam-packed calendar: Bari is the Vice President of Corporate Communications for The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC), and she leads the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign on behalf of ELC, focusing media attention on annual high-wattage efforts to raise major awareness and funds that fuel life-saving research.
No matter if she’s illuminating the Empire State Building pink with supermodel and global ambassador Elizabeth Hurley or attending a black tie gala, for Bari, every last action she takes comes back to beating cancer. As with Lauren, the survivor, and Pamela, the fundraiser, Bari has an all-too personal cancer connection that drives her, too.
Power Figures take myriad forms. In lockstep with the brave front-line warriors fighting breast cancer—the survivors battling for their lives, supported by their tenacious medical teams—you’ll find driven, impassioned advocates and fundraisers. Count Pamela Lipkin among them.
Though Pamela works full-time at USI Insurance Services as a bond manager, she also devotes herself to organizing events for the Cure Breast Cancer Foundation, for which she serves as a board member.
For Pamela, it’s personal.
The stats about breast cancer are as staggering as they are ubiquitous: 246,660 new cases this year. 1 in every 8 women. More than 2.8 million women in the United States with a history of breast cancer.
Behind the dizzying numbers are flesh-and-blood human beings going to war every day in their own ways against breast cancer. They are Power Figures in every sense of the word: raising awareness at the same time as they are making plans for the rest of their lives. Following our 4-part series last year on the science and politics of Breast Cancer Awareness Month with medical correspondent Dr. Sharon Mass, this year, we’re honored to introduce you to four of them. Taken together, they’re profiles in courage, in caring, in the conviction that we can and will turn this tide.
Meet Lauren Cohen who, at 33, is already a breast cancer survivor. She graciously opened up to Bare it All about her path from blindsiding diagnosis to the new normal.
To many of us, summer camp is child’s play. Ali Leipzig, 29 (top left), and Michelle Goldblum, 32 (top right), beg to differ. That’s why they founded their own sleepaway camp for grown-ups in 2014.
With outposts in New York and California, Soul Camp is an all-inclusive wellness retreat where up to 300 campers—65% of them women—say see ya to their families, routines and smartphones for four days. The trade-off: access to dozens of workshops, classes and seminars (everything from stand-up paddleboarding to essential oils 101) aimed at nourishing body, mind and spirit.
When life is a treadmill going a million miles a minute, it’s liberating to know you can press pause to reconnect with the things that stoke your inner (camp)fire. As it turns out, more often than not, those things tend to be simple pleasures like strolling down a country road, losing track of time floating on a placid lake or talking for hours with a new friend. Often, the best thing you can do as an adult is to remember what it’s like to be a kid again.
At Bare Necessities, we’re in the business of supporting women en route every day to their most authentic selves. Some days, that means putting on your big girl panties and daring to do things differently. That’s why we think Ali and Michelle are such Power Figures—through Soul Camp, they’re uplifting women in their own way.
In time for Labor Day, we talked to Michelle and Ali about how they arrived at their aha moment, made it happen, found freedom as their own bosses and continue being besties while (gasp!) mixing business and pleasure.