Mums In Biz: Plan? What plan?

Marjorie Burnside, a lady in her 50s, shares with us her new business venture, and how she decided to Go for It! It’s often life changing experiences that make us think about our jobs and lives, and Marjorie is no exception.

I’m Marjorie and  recently started as the East Lancashire Bralady. I have two daughters in their twenties and this is my story.

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BOOBS!! – Now I’ve got your attention…..

Emma Booth

Emma Booth

This week’s guest post is from a lady I’ve seen twice at the Women’s Business Network Group Lancashire (WBNL). I was asked to do a talk last Monday about bra fitting, and here’s Emma’s post about what went on.

When you think you know everything about being a woman, there are still some things you don’t get right. I’m not talking about the next fad diet or how to control those horrible things called hormones but this week I learnt just how important one of our everyday items of clothing is!

My surname is Booth so I’ve been called ‘Emma Boobies’ since the age of 13 and have been wearing an average-sized bra for years. However, that didn’t mean it was right for me, in fact specialist bra-fitter T-J Hughes, from bras4mums & bras4all, showed me just how wrong my size was!!

The WBNL monthly meeting which took place at Haighton Manor, Preston, was led by T-J who gave a group of businesswomen of a variety of ages and sizes a wealth of information about, yep you’ve guessed it… the importance of the right bra size! Continue reading

I’m so excited!

Not about the election, although it is the first time ever I haven’t known how to vote. Had thought about doing a post on “Do you vote for a good trustworthy MP, or do you vote for the party politics you agree with most?”. Which I may do, although I think my Friday guest blogger is going to blow us away with her thoughts on party politics.

No, I’m excited that the first bra fitting agent for bras4mums is now trained and ready to go.

Tracy with T-J during her bra fitting training

This seemed a dream just a few weeks ago, but now I’ve done it! I’ve trained someone else. Passed on my knowledge so that she can share her new knowledge with women in her area and get them wearing comfy, suitable bras during pregnancy and when breastfeeding, whatever their shape or size.

When I first started bras4mums my ambition was to have bra fitters across the UK to be able to offer a home fitting service to pregnant women and new mums. Why? Well, the business started when I had a toddler and a new born baby, and I really couldn’t figure out how to go to a shop to get a bra fitting with a toddler and a pram. I was also horrified with the bra fitting advice and information that I was given during my pregnancies – virtually nothing, and some of it totally wrong. Continue reading

Change of plan, (but all part of the vision)

Just when I thought I knew what I was doing, something has knocked me off my simple straight road and sent me off on a new track. Am I ready for it? No idea, but I’m going to give it my best shot and see what happens

Can you see all the paths on your journey yet?

“If you have a clear picture in your mind of what it will be like when you’ve won the fight, you won’t feel the pain”, Mohammed Ali

After all the customer feedback and juggling I’ve been doing, I thought I was moving down one track with the bras4mums business. Slow and steady. Continue reading

Customer feedback

I really enjoyed my weekend at the London Baby Show this weekend with bras4mums. It was great to meet new and returning customers on the stand, and offer a free bra fitting service to pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Overall, I probably did about 200 bra fittings over the weekend, which is quite amazing really. Everyone is a different shape and needs different shape bras for support. Plus we all have different tastes and budgets.

It was also good to hear people’s feedback on our range and service so that we can grow and develop our range to suit women of all bra sizes. bras4mums currently offer the widest range of maternity and nursing bra styles and sizes in the UK, but as we were told at the weekend, there is still room for improvement!

We’ve recently asked for feedback through a short survey, which is making  interesting reading! I’m asking more people to complete the survey so that we can ensure that women who are both existing customers, and also those who have never used our online bra fitting service can let us know what we can do better for them.

I’m also getting a lot of helpful feedback through our facebook fan page, and via conversations on twitter. I take account of everything that’s said, even if I can’t change things straight away. Please do join in the conversations.

Tomorrow I’m heading to MODA, a trade fair for lingerie and fashion. I have a long list of styles and shapes that I’m looking for for existing customers. Some are for ladies who’ve had a mastectomy or lumpectomy, others are for smaller backed, and /or bigger busted ladies, some pregnant or breastfeeding, others who use our bras4all range. I’m hoping to find a lot of what I need. Otherwise I’ll have to rethink.

Feedback in a business and personally is so important. But, we must use what we learn. Not just tuck it away, or tick the box that we had on our list. Feedback from customers helps to inform the direction of the business, and develop excellent customer service to potentially loyal customers.

I’m in business to help women. But, I need to know what they’re struggling with bra wise to be able to help them more. Please let me know your feedback about bras, bra fitting, styles, sizes so that I can help you and others like you in the future.

Bra fitters are crucial to women’s health

I’ve just returned from training 7 bra fitters in the wider issues of bra fitting for maternity and nursing bras, using the RCM accredited Bra Fitting Awareness Course. During my long drive home it’s really struck me that, even though all these women have been bra fitters in the shops they work in, they still had very little understanding of how important bra fitting is to women’s health and well being, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The exact point made by last week’s Which report I talked about previously. Continue reading

Our bra fitting standards

A Which report published this week could not recommend any

A measure is only a guide

High Street bra fitting service, stating, “Fewer than 1 in 3 shops measured up and no service was good enough to recommend.” Just style reported that even though the report focused on larger busted women (DD+), smaller busted women also got a poor service

I have to say I’m disappointed, but not surprised. My business was set up almost 6 years ago after I got awful advice from a ‘trained bra fitter’ running an independent business. But I still see women who tell us of their awful experiences in High Street Shops.

I’ve always based the bra fitting service we offer at bras4mums and bras4all on good fitting advice. We will not let a woman buy a bra we believe is ill fitting. If she insists, we make a note on her fitting record, in case she has cause to complain.

We allow up to an hour for each fitting at our shop and with our home fitting service. This allows time to educate the customer as well as try on a variety of styles and sizes to ensure good fit. At the shows we attend, this isn’t possible, but our fitters do their best in a very busy environment, and will spend as much time with a customer as required to ensure good fit and comfort.

One of our main frustrations as bra fitters, are the sizes available from suppliers. Even though bras4mums offers the widest range of maternity and nursing bras in the UK, we don’t feel there is enough for a lot of the women we see. We need more 28-30 back sizes, more F+ cups, and particularly more HH – J – L cups. Despite our good communications with our suppliers, they are still not listening as we’re only a small part of their income. For example, HOTmilk have decided to no longer manufacture 30 band sizes. It turns out that we’re one of the very few stockists of this size, and not big enough for them to manufacture just for us.

Yes, bra fitting services should be better and more consistent. But so should bra manufacturing! You can even buy a bra from the same manufacturer in a different size to normal due to the fabric being more/less stretchy. It’s frustrating!

So, if in doubt, give us a call. Our bra fitters are trained to offer advice by phone and by email. We may use a tape measure as a guide, but not as the final ‘size answer’, as all bras fit differently. See how we size you up for an initial guesstimate and starting point.

Recent training sessions we’ve run have surprised the attendees, and disappointed sales assistants. During the day they’ve not only realised that they are uncomfortable in their current bra, but that the range that they are stocking will not fit most of the women who shop there! Stores need to start asking women what they want, not relying on suppliers who want to sell bra patterns they already have.

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s the right fit if it’s uncomfortable to wear. But please do remember, that you may not be wearing your bra right. Do listen to advice on this – an ill fitting bra really can affect your health.

Related article – Why aren’t we taught how to wear a bra at school?

Why aren’t we taught how to fit a bra at school?

If you’re anything like me, my Mum took me to M&S when my breasts started to grow and then I wore the same size bras for ever.

It was only when I got pregnant that I really started to become more aware of

Nursing bra by Bravado

my breasts and my bras. My breasts grew massive in the first few weeks of pregnancy, and was told by an M&S fitter that this was unusual, (I’ve since discovered that this is normal!). She put me in a sports bra, which wasn’t that comfy, but I thought they were the experts, so I wore it during pregnancy.

I discovered NCT bras for breastfeeding, which were OK. But looking back, I probably wasn’t wearing the right size. Continue reading

New Year, new shape, new bra

This week is the week many people will be starting their new fitness regime to get a new shape / lose weight / feel better at the start of 2010.

Don’t forget that a new bra can get you a new shape without the need to lose weight! You can surprise your partner and friends by getting the right size, bra shape and correctly fitted bra. Sometimes you need to reduce your t-shirt size as a good bra can make all the difference to how you look.

We have surprised women all the time in the shop, exclaiming, “I can’t believe the difference the bra has made”. It’s a great feeling to help women look and feel better. It’s the part of the job I love most.

So, how do we do this for ourselves? The most important thing is how you fit the bra. Think down or low for the bra band. This should be firm and sit in the smallest part of your back. This is often a lot lower than where you usually wear your bra, but you will benefit from the support and shape it gives you – it shapes your natural contours, and lifts your breasts naturally from a firm base. It will bring your shoulders back and help improve your posture.

How not to wear a bra

If you’re worried about the overhang, then get a bra that is deeper than usual. A lot of fashion bras have very narrow bands. Older ladies that wear longline bras don’t have this problem, as everything is held in by the length of the bra. Continue reading

Help your partner buy you underwear for Christmas

I often get asked by partners buying lingerie for their women what should they do. They want to get it right, and maybe have bought stuff in the past that hasn’t been worn a lot, if at all! They don’t want to waste money, especially when times are tough, but they want to buy you something and treat you both.

Sexy nursing bras available suitable for all women

Sexy nursing bras available suitable for all women

Here’s my advice:

  1. Find out the current size of the bra you’re wearing, and look at the shape of it.
  2. Is this bra an old favourite? Has it been worn and worn, so the size on the label is likely to have no relation to your current size? If so, find a bra that hasn’t been worn quite so much that fits OK, and use that one as the guide
  3. When looking at bras he likes, and thinks you will like, can he find a similar shape bra? The shape of the bra is really important as this is what suits your body and breast shape best. Continue reading