Cuup has the virtual personal touch.
The direct-to-consumer lingerie start-up offers shoppers the chance for a bra fitting without leaving their homes. But they don’t need to fill out an online form either. Rather, women can schedule a 20- to 30-minute video conference call with a fit therapist.
“It’s essentially the same fit consultation that you could get when you come into our showroom in SoHo,” said Abby Morgan, one of Cuup’s four cofounders. “You’re asked to have a measuring tape and that’s all you need. The fit therapists will walk you through how to measure yourself, which is quite accurate. But it’s not just measuring yourself. It’s a conversation about understanding the importance of fit.”
From there, shoppers all over the U.S. can order their bras and underwear online.
“One of the reasons we wanted to lean into the video conferencing is that it allowed customers who were not in New York to get fit,” added Kearnon O’Molony, another cofounder.
“You see a lot of brands out there that have an algorithmic approach to get you into a better size, through an in-take quiz,” he said. “But they’re not really that effective. We really like the idea of marrying that human component to [our fittings]. It’s a channel for us that really ties into the ethos of what we are as a brand [and] goes after those components of educating fit and sort of talking through what it means to find the right fit.”
The video conferencing technique has become so popular in the roughly one-year lifespan of the brand that there is now a one-month waitlist. That’s in-line with the rapid growth of the brand, which was founded in November 2018 by O’Molony and Morgan, along with Lauren Caris Cohan and Chrisden Ferrari.
All four have a background in retail. Cohan and Morgan’s résumés include stints at Free People, while Ferrari hailed from Victoria’s Secret. O’Molony is the “finance guy.” (He was once in negotiations to buy luxury lingerie brand La Perla back in 2012.)
That didn’t work out. But the foursome has managed to grow Cuup. O’Molony said sales are growing quickly. And about a third of customers are returning.
“What we’ve seen with our brand is that when you get someone in the right size up front, the retention rate is multiples over what we’ve seen with other brands in the category,” O’Molony said. “You see a lot of noise in this category. But there’s a lot of folks out there where the product doesn’t stand on its own two feet. And you see customers who will try it once and then won’t come back and try it again.”
Now the brand is growing even further. Cuup closed an $11 million series A investment round led by private equity and venture capital firm Insight Partners, bringing the total funding amount to $15 million. Other participants in the most-recent round include Forerunner Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Bullish.
“For too long, intimate brands have gotten away with offering products that are nowhere near as unique as the person purchasing it,” said Kirsten Green, founder and managing partner of Forerunner Ventures. “The founders and team behind Cuup recognize the potential of bringing fit, quality and inclusion to an oftentimes standardized or polarizing industry.”
Cuup offers unlined, underwire bras in four different silhouettes across 40 sizes — 30A to 38H — along with a selection of panties, at shopcuup.com. All bras are $68.
The business, which employs about 20 full-time associates, plans to hire more fit therapists with the latest investment (there are currently only three), while also exploring additional product categories and technical features on its web site, investing in inventory and building out the omnichannel, including the possibility of a retail store in late 2020 or even venturing into wholesale.
“Bras are an inherently highly loyal category,” O’Molony said. “It works online when you have people in the right fit.”