Years in Tampa Bay
Danielle: Born and raised in Tampa. Ellery: Just over five years, but from Lakeland. Fruutfull: established February of 2018
Founders of Fruutfull.
What do you do?
Danielle: We are starting a new bra company, so we have a patent on a new bra design and through that design we will also be offering a simplified sizing system. For the first time ever, women will be able to personalize their bra to fit down to the exact centimeter. That way we can actually offer less sizes. Right now I think there are over 165 different bra size options, which is why 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra. Our new sizing system will offer about 30 different size options and cover that 165 size range, while increasing the sizes offered by over 40 percent.
Why do you do it?
Ellery: One of our goals is to really empower women and the change the way that women feel about bras in general. I know I personally hate bras and I've never been able to find something that's fit me well. When Danielle told me her idea for Fruutfull, I was like almost in tears, I'm sitting there with chill bumps and it really resonated with me. When we started digging in and speaking with other women, we realized that we're not alone in this. I think for a long time women have really been suffering in silence. So we're here to change that. Danielle: We've had so many ups and downs but it's so much bigger than us wanting to start a bra company. Whenever we ask women how they feel about their bra, it's just word vomit. We have such a bigger purpose, we're trying trying to elevate women and make them feel confident and comfortable in everything they're wearing. Style has no size, only limited size options, so we're hoping to change that.
What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)
Danielle: I've always loved clothing and one day I wanted to teach myself to sew. I wanted to be a clothing designer. My goal was to be the next Zimmerman, and what I found was that everything I was making was better bust supporting garments. Swimsuit tops that actually fit. A backless shirt that women with larger busts could actually wear. Once I started to doodle that out, all of these bra ideas hit me at one time. Backless versions, a strapless version, from that strapless version, we could change the a classic bra fits. Through all of that, we could simplify the sizing system. Ellery: We were able to approach the design through the eyes of the consumer, for the first time ever we weren't thinking in terms of being confined by traditional bra styles and how things are typically done. That's allowed us to create a really, really unique product.
What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?
Danielle: How difficult it is to make a bra. Ellery: It takes on average 30-35 pieces to make even a really basic bra. You compare that to a pair of jeans. It takes 15 pieces to make a pair of jeans. So many elements of bras are still hand sewn, there's very very specific machines that you need and stitches that you use. Danielle: So then we're taking that difficult garment and completely changing it at the same time. When I chopped up my bra and sewed it together to make my "Franken Bra" it took me about 30 minutes. So I've been saying "Better Bras Launching Soon" for about two years now.
What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?
Danielle: Mostly finding a manufacturer to actually create the bra for us. What really dawned on me is that there are plenty of seamstresses that can sew the pieces together but what we're doing is so unique, every piece of our bra is unique. So we need, from the very beginning, that custom back band or hardware piece or whatever it is we're putting into our bra needs to be developed in the infancy stage. Ellery: I think we could talk a lot more quickly about the things that have been easy than the things that have been hard. But it's all about the process. We're so lucky to be based here in Tampa Bay. The community here for entrepreneurs and startups is abundant and we were blown away. We had no idea.
What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?
Ellery: To read. To keep an open mind. I read voraciously, I'm a very curious person. Danielle: If someone tells you no, you're talking to the wrong person. Perseverance. It's the process, but when you're first starting out you don't want to hear that. You want to hear that once you're there, it will happen quickly, but it does not. You have to persevere and keep going and pivot. Ellery: We're the queens of pivoting.
What does building Fruutfull day-to-day look like?
What doesn't it look like? We wear so many different hats. It's building a company from the ground up. It doesn't matter what industry you're in or what you're building, but it's complicated and it's hard. In addition, throwing in that layer that we're actually selling a product to consumers and we're completely reengineering that product is a layer that makes it so much more complicated.