As a part of the Morning Lazziness series about strong women leaders who attained success with their incredible ideas, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gina Vericella Crevi.
In difficult times, fashion is always outrageous.” —Elsa Schiaparelli
Started by sisters Gina and Jennifer, The Bra Lab, is 100% women-owned. They created the world’s first side clasping interchangeable bra system offering endless solutions and customization that could work with almost any outfit.
Many thanks for doing this for us; please let our users know about yourself and The Bra Lab?
Hi, I’m Gina, one of the co-founders of The Bra Lab; my sister and I founded the company, and we are 100% women-owned. I have had an innate love for fashion and design my entire life, and after graduating with a graphic design and journalism degree, I opened 2 clothing stores. We have always had a great entrepreneurial spirit in our lives from our father and have always liked thinking outside of the box, experimenting, and testing the norms. Our Grandmother was a seamstress from Italy who taught us how to sew and instilled in us the importance of the subtle details and thoughtful, functional design elements. Jennifer brings a finance background as well as a passion for sustainable design ideation.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
We’ve been running fashion boutiques for over a decade, and we were constantly hearing our customers’ bra struggles. We knew it was time to create a bra that was intuitive to what women actually need – something to complement the trickiest of outfits and something that adapts to a woman’s lifestyle. And not something that you necessarily need to hide (although you can if you want). We know that going bra-less is just not an option for most women – and nor should it be! We believe that bra shopping shouldn’t have to be a pain in the boob. We decided to cut up our bras and innovate on something that hadn’t been changed in over 100 years. So we went to work on our anti-traditional bras. Not only did we create the first side-clasping bra, but we also invented a new bra system – a system that actually improved women’s everyday lives.
Your brand, The Bra Lab- the tagline is Designed by women for women. What does it refer to?
We are a 100% women-owned and operated business. We have listened to our customers and our own issues with bras and created something that solves these. We are digging deep to create a bra intuitive to what women need in their wardrobe.
What challenges did you face at the start of your business? What lesson did you learn from that?
As women in a male-dominated industry and as innovators in an industry with strict guidelines and an unwillingness to change, it was an uphill battle bringing our products to market. It was difficult getting the factories to understand our concept and to work with skilled factories with low minimums. We bootstrapped and did not have outside investment, so it was challenging at times to get the product we wanted.
What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur, and why?
- Optimistic – Don’t let fear get in the way; this will stop you in your tracks.
- Resilient – Things are not always going to go right; most of the time, what you thought would happen changes, or you get negativity from outsiders. Keep going, don’t stop. Trust yourself and do what you have to do to get to the next step.
- Adaptable – Be a Jack of all trades; at first, you are going to need to know how to run every aspect of your business, from accounting to digital ads and marketing to design and development and operations. This is also good to know as you grow, so you have an understanding of the way your business works when managing your employees.
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
Think of the good, think of the positive reviews. It is so easy to get sucked into negativity and get yourself down, especially with social media. But you have to do something that makes you feel positive. It is also good to take a step back and breathe, go for a walk, listen to a podcast and clear your mind.
Do you love supporting other women entrepreneurs?
Yes, we love building other women up and collaborating to work together in creating success. We were involved in a Women’s Mentoring Group in Chicago, and it was a great way to talk with experienced businesswomen to help guide you and build connections.
Also, in recent years, in every sector, women are marking their footprints and doing impeccably great. As stats say, the Women’s Entrepreneurship worldwide has grown rapidly; what your thoughts on it?
I think it’s amazing how women are taking chances and getting themselves out there, and we have also been seeing women-led VC companies supporting women-run businesses. I think we have a ways to go yet in the VC-backed world, but it’s moving in the right direction.
What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss that isn’t obvious?
The hardest thing is not separating yourself from your business, sometimes it becomes you, and when something doesn’t go as planned or wrong, it’s hard to not take that on personally and not let it get to you; you have to dissociate and separate yourself from the business.
What are your plans for the future, how do you plan to grow this company?
We would like to keep adding products to our interchangeable bra system as well as other innovative designs that are on-brand. We are not your average bra, but breaking boundaries and making items that allow women to wear what they want to wear. We want to take those intuitive designs that make getting dressed easier and bring them to life.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Right, when we started with our first designs, we were approached to go on the Bobbi Thomas Live With Kathie Lee and Hoda show, and it was the best feeling in the world! It was a feeling like none other than this design we had created from scratch and have patents on was just on the Kathie Lee and Hoda show; it was so validating and paved our path forward.
There is no shortage of good ideas out there, but people struggle to take a good idea and translate it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?
We didn’t think too hard; we just did. We are doers, and we would create our designs and then figure out the next step. We also put ourselves out there and made relationships with a lot of people who helped to guide us along the way.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- There is no stopping
- Bras are extremely hard to manufacture
- Proper product markups
- It’s actually harder being an entrepreneur
- Having your own business consumes your life
Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself, “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so, how did you overcome it?
Yes, this does go through your mind, especially when things go wrong. At this point, we are so ingrained in the business, and you have to figure out your next move; you have to acknowledge the problem you are facing and find a solution. You can solve almost anything. Breaking things down and tackling the issues one by one is what gets me through.
What is your no-fail go-to when you need inspiration or to get out of a creative rut?
Getting fresh air or doing something that has nothing to do with my business.
What is your favorite mantra or affirmation that you say to yourself to keep you going?
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
What does success mean to you?
Hearing positive reviews from our customers. It is so validating that we created something that makes people’s lives a little bit easier.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.