Personal Style, Power Figures

Emily Lau, Founder of The Little Bra Company, is Standing up for Small Chests

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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.

Q: How did you become an expert in a new field?
A: After leaving my television career, I spent a lot of time in factory sample rooms learning what worked and didn’t work in terms of design and construction. Ever since I could wear a bra as a teenager, I was an avid consumer of lingerie on this quest to find the perfect-fitting bra, so I feel I’ve been working at becoming an expert since then.

Q: What challenges did you have to overcome? What advice can you give to someone who wants to start a new venture?
A: The biggest challenge is taking that first leap and getting started. I always tell people who want to start their own businesses that the hardest part is quitting your job and committing to the business 100 percent. After that, every decision seems easier because it’s about survival—it isn’t theory anymore, so you don’t have time to think as much about every little decision, you just have to act. The best advice is just to do it. You will never know unless you try. It will be a lot of hard work, but if you believe in your product and yourself, you have to give it your all.

Q: What’s your mission? What makes The Little Bra Company (TLBC) bras different?
A: My mission is to make The Little Bra Company bras easily accessible worldwide. There are still a lot of petite women out there who think that there isn’t a bra in existence that fits them. I want to reach out to these women, let them know TLBC exists and be able to have the product available for them to try.

TLBC bras are different because we design especially for petite and smaller-framed women. They have contour padding in all the right places to make the most of what you have. Our 0-to-5 padding scale is based on a petite body type, so our proportions are based on a smaller fit. Just like a petite pant fits a petite woman better, TLBC’s bras fit the same way. Of course, the petite customer in the intimate apparel world isn’t necessarily 5’4″ and under—we have taller customers who happen to have a smaller rib cage and/or bust frame who wear our bras, as well.

Aside from a better fit, we’re providing the petite woman with a complete bra wardrobe that she never had before! Now, she has the option of a fashionable lace push-up bra, a lightly lined T-shirt bra, a sports bra…. We’ve learned over the years that even in this petite size range, there are all different body types; now we also offer the petite customer the option of a wide-set or closer-set bra.

Q: Why are petite women overlooked in the bra world? Why does the right fit matter to her as much as a fuller-busted woman?
A: There is a big misconception that petite women don’t need to wear bras at all, or that the bras on the market now are already made for them. It’s true that smaller-breasted women have less breast tissue, but that doesn’t mean their breasts don’t need some support. I’m sorry to say that small breasts do eventually sag, so if you don’t want them going south, you should probably invest in a well-fitting bra. In fact, when we add extra padding to our bra cups, we often add wider, power mesh back bands like one usually finds in full-busted bra cups to make sure that the bra stays in place. The right fit is important because that means you will get the right shape. Indeed, we are maximizing rather than minimizing, but that sometimes requires the same methods.

Q: Which bras work best for most of your customers? 
A: All of my bras are named after my family and friends. I feel like starting a business was like starting a family; it also takes a village. I’m lucky to have a supportive group of people around me who have been encouraging and helpful on this journey. I still remember the early days when I invited my friends over for a picking-and-packing party over dinner. One of the most important people in my life at the time was Luc, who inspired me to start the business, so I named the first bra I ever designed, Lucia, after him. Lucia is still in the Signature Collection and is one of our best sellers along with Yvonne, named after my best friend from college, and Sascha, named after my friend who I convinced to be my first model.

Q: What’s new and exciting right now? What’s coming down the road for TLBC?
A: The fashion/apparel business is always new and exciting! Our SS17 collection, which introduced new styles and revamped some of our customer favorites has just launched, and The Little Bra Company will be celebrating our 10-year anniversary this year—I couldn’t be more excited! We plan on expanding our online and in-store presence, and we’re looking forward to many more great years to come!

Q: What drives you?
A: My customers drive me to continue to do better. I read and listen to all feedback. For example, I love hearing stories of how some customers were contemplating breast augmentation surgery, then tried on TLBC bras and decided against it, or the customer who has been on the hunt for years, like I was, for a properly fitting bra that gave them a little shape, and finally found it with TLBC bras. Intimate apparel is the most emotional piece of clothing women wear. I feel honored to be a part of that daily decision women make when they get dressed. I want my customers to feel good about themselves from the inside out, and if we can provide a foundation to help with that, I’m happy.

Q: How do you find balance?
A: I sometimes wish I could clone myself twice or even three times. Balance is difficult, especially since having a child, but time management is key, and I find that the busier I am, the better I am with managing my time.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO EMILY
Favorite bra: Lucia.
Personal mantra: “Make it happen.”
Greatest extravagance: Luxurious vacations. My favorite destination is Bhutan.
Best workout: I wish I had more time to work out. When I do find the time, I try to do yoga.
Hidden talent: Cooking.
Secret to living a great life: Let go of fear.
Best TV show: Chef’s Table or The Night Manager.
Mood-boosting song: “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay.
Perfect day must contain: Good food and good friends.
Proudest moment: Becoming a mother.
Craziest thing you’ve ever done: Becoming a mother!

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Brooke Glassberg
Brooke is the editor of this here blog. In a previous life, she was an editor at Good Housekeeping and O, The Oprah Magazine. Brooke has written for Glamour, Travel+Leisure, New York Magazine and more. She’s into concerts, calligraphy, travel and her exceptionally adorable daughter and husband.
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