This month we're featuring a fellow brablem-solver, Becky Connelly, founder of Non Disclosure Apparel. We're all about supporting women in the same space as we are because in reality, there's room for everyone! If your biggest problem is nipping, look no further than NDA. Here is more about Becky & how she came up with this genius bralette.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I'm a Southern Girl, with the drawl to prove it (when I went to school in Boston, the locals thought I was Kiwi or Australian 🤷♀️), & grew up between SC and Georgia. Chilin' on the beach (esp Sullivans, IOP or Dewees) is my favorite thing to do. I'm a runner, amateur peloton-er and live in Vans or Flip Flops (8 year old Uggs if really cold). I like pull-on pants (eff a zipper!) which means I lean heavily towards leggings or Aftcos. Most people describe me as "easy going" and/or "asker of a lot of questions".
What is your startup story?On my desk, there's a photo of me at age 11 (left) - the Olan Mills lighting is just right, illuminating my nipples poking though my shirt. Traumatized from seeing it (photo) for the first time, I set out to "never" have my nipples show through my clothing again. Over the years, I've used everything from folded up tissue paper squares and medical tape to padded bras and silicone nipple covers to hide my nipples from showing. Fast forwarding (a lot), I'm at a post grad program for Construction Management in Boston. As one of the three girls my graduating class, it was imperative for me to be on top of my nipple concealing A-Game. At the same time, especially being small chested, I was growing weary of padding and molded cupped bras that looked and felt unnatural to me. Also, I was getting tired of ripping tape or adhesive off my boobs at night. So, I started daydreaming about the "ultimate bra". One that was thin (apparently, this is called a bralette) with a thin nipple concealer built in. I wanted it to have nothing to do with padding. Where oh where could I find this thing? Nowhere, it turns out. So, after being encouraged by a life coach to make this bra a reality, and having zero experience in fashion design, I started making calls to lingerie developers. That was 2014. After six years of trial, a lot of error and five manufacturers later, I launched The Elli Bralette, affectionately named for the life coach that lit a fire under me.
What has been the most challenging part? Most rewarding part?
Most challenging? Clawing my way through the development of this thing: manufacturers seemingly not caring, not taking me seriously, not calling me back for weeks/months. Most rewarding? When a woman tells me this bra is "the answer" she's been searching or thanks me for "saving" her daughter because she's no longer wearing hoody sweatshirts in 80 degree Florida heat to hide her breast buds. These testimonials will never, ever get old and even if this bra helped just one person, it would make all of it, the years of heartache, second guessing and "pulling myself up by my bootstraps" perseverance, worthwhile.
What is something you know now that you wish you knew in the beginning?
When I pressed "publish" on my website, I thought these bras were going to fly off the shelf. Who knew about SEO? Um, not me. I was so "head down" developing this thing, I had no idea how much I'd then have to slug it again for women to know it exists. So, in hindsight, I should have boned up on a marketing plan.
How do you relax & decompress after a long day or week?
Decompress? Right! Well, there's wine - that helps. A sunset boat cruise always does the trick (yay summer!). When I'm looking to really relax, (and allow myself to do so), I'll take a bath, put on my "house dress" and read something easy, like Dorothy Benton Frank.
What advice would you give to other people wanting to start a company?
It's a whole lot easier you're passionate about the "why". That, and be able to quickly tell someone "why "and "what" problem your business is solving.