I can’t think of a better way to celebrate International Women’s Day than with a list of women-run brands from our Better Know a Brand blog series. Reading about these accomplished individuals inspires me to continue working on fulfilling my goals and dreams.
The women below hail from all parts of the world and work in different corners of the intimate apparel industry. They are mothers, daughters, and breast cancer survivors. All have carved out a specific niche, from luxury and post-mastectomy lingerie to full bust swimwear, and teen and ‘tween offerings.
My list could have included many others. But I chose these few as a way to highlight the ways they approach their businesses and the values they hold. You can be young or old, around for a few years or decades, and come from anywhere in the world. What they all have in common is a dream and the desire to achieve it. (You can find more female-led brands in our continuing BKAB series.)
Here are eight great brands created and led by women entrepreneurs. I hope they inspire you as they do me. Who knows? Maybe you’ll launch your own dream this International Women’s Day!
Hard to believe that it took until 2014 for someone to launch a lingerie brand catering to skin toned lingerie for women of color. But that is what founder Ade Hassan did when she created Nubian Skin some five years ago. And her vision has grown and now includes plus size bras, bodysuits, and camisoles, to shoes! The small UK company now ships to retailers all over the world.
Fleur of England
This UK luxury lingerie brand is not new, as it launched back in 2000. But it is unique in that Fleur Turner is the inspiration behind everything—including intricate and exquisite laces and embroidery and the exact shade of each new color introduced into the collections. Fleur of England also offers swimwear and sleepwear, if you can’t get enough of their fantastic lingerie.
Founder, Megan Grassell
How many 17-year-olds do you know that start-up their own intimate apparel business? That’s the story behind four-year-old US brand Yellowberry. Megan Grassell found it frustrating to go bra shopping with her younger sister and found a solution by launching a new line of bras and activewear for teens and ‘tweens.
Founder Dana Donofree
There are plenty of post-mastectomy lingerie brands now on the market. But Dana Donofree has done something new with AnaOno. She offers women real lingerie choices after breast cancer: whether they’ve chosen whole or partial breast reconstruction, or none at all. Also, she partnered with an oncologist, Dr. Katie Deming, to introduce MakeMerry; the first of its kind post-radiation collection that helps in the healing process. This four-year-old US-based company is here to stay.
Harlow & Fox
Founder & Director Leanna Willaims Photograph by David Myers
If you’re a regular reader of The Breast Life, you know I’m a big fan of UK luxury lingerie brand, Harlow & Fox. (It’s the lingerie I wore for my first boudoir photo shoot at age 59!) What Leanna Williams has done is extraordinary: she creates luxury lingerie for women with fuller busts, fitting 30-38 bands and DD-G cup sizes, plus custom orders. Her collections are beyond exquisite, in both materials and styling.
Lilly & Lime Swimwear
Founders Emma-Jane Hughes and Ashleigh Hill
The founders of swimwear brand Lilly & Lime both grew up in Africa and love the surf and sun. But, again, like so many other women they found it a challenge to shop for swimwear that fit their breasts. So they launched a swimwear collection, first in Australia and are now available in the US. They cater to D+cups, offering them pretty and supportive bikinis and one-piece swimsuits.
Ellen Jacobson w/model Asia Monet
When you think of plus size lingerie, you don’t often equate them with gorgeous designs. But fuller figured women have a friend in Ellen Jacobson. New York-based Elila was founded in 2004 with the mission to provide women with beautiful and supportive pieces, including babydolls, strapless bustiers, and sports bras! Their sizes run from B to L cups and briefs from XL to 6XL.
Founder Emma Parker
Emma Parker launched London’s Playful Promises back in 2004, and since that time the brand has become known for both award-winning lingerie and its inclusivity and unique collaborations. Parker aims to provide women of all shapes, sizes, and ages (!) the fabulous lingerie and swimwear they deserve.