A woman will tell you what she wants if you ask her, according to True & Co. cofounder and chief creative officer Michelle Lam.

At the digital forum, Lam shared her start-up journey and how she has come to know so much about what women want from their bras, and from her company, which utilizes an in-depth quiz and additional feedback to make an online shop personalized to each customer’s needs.

For the first time, she also publicly shared how her company’s early popularity created a very real problem of not being able to fulfill demand. Ultimately, according to Lam, this translated into customers telling her, “Michelle is an idiot.”

The idea for her lingerie company began with a bad fitting room experience in 2012. Lam shared the story of buying 500 bras and being inspired by a Cosmopolitan quiz format to ask friends and future customers for feedback. After six months, she’d arrived at an online quiz, but after 50 media outlets reported on the launch of her business within 24 hours, she had a problem: The resulting high demand meant that the servers crashed after only three hours. She ran out of inventory and had to shut down the site after one week.

She quickly learned a good lesson: Her algorithm prioritized filling the order, rather than finding the ideal product for her customers, so it began pulling appropriate inventory wherever it could find it.

Today, she said, she knows that the concept of a brand equals the sum total of interactions that a customer has with a company. “Are you meeting expectations, and how high have you set the bar?” she asked.

She said True & Co. eliminated the word “perfect,” and replaced it with “for me,” which allowed her to deliver on expectations that the product felt truly personal.

She also said that after “opening her doors to everyone in the beginning,” today, True & Co. has restricted its available sizes until it is ready to expand its size offering.

She has identified 20 components in finding the right bra including technical fit, emotional fit, visual style and quality. This has allowed True & Co. to introduce its own line of bras; 70 percent of the site’s sales volume is now its own product. So far, two million women have taken the fit quiz, and Lam said True & Co. is able to identify more than 60 million data points on each customer’s body and life.

At the forum, she also introduced True & Co.’s first print catalogue, which was part of the brand’s efforts to reach the customer both online and off.

“Eighty-nine percent of our products are given four of five stars,” Lam said. “And I know more about women’s breasts than any man in the world.”

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