Jenna Kerner and Jane Fisher, who met at Wharton while earning their MBAs, never enjoyed the bra shopping experience.
“It was overwhelming and I didn’t know where to go,” said Kerner.
They confirmed their frustrations weren’t unfounded via a focus group, and after watching other Wharton alumni launch Warby Parker and Bonobos, decided to offer a solution with Harper Wilde.
Harper Wilde, which is named after the prominent women authors Harper Lee and Laura Ingalls Wilder, went live this week. Shoppers can select up to three bras to try on at home for free and only be charged for what they decide to keep. And instead of forcing women to use a measuring tape or fill out a long questionnaire to determine their size, they offer fit tips based on a customer’s current bra. For example, they have published a flow chart that asks women simple questions — “Is your band too small?” — to lead to the proper size, which ranges from 32 to 38 band width and A to DD cups.
“We really want to bring the experience into the home and empower women to find their right fit in a comfortable and private environment,” said Kerner.
Kerner and Fisher are also simplifying things by offering three bra styles: a strapless bra called the flex, a T-shirt bra called the base and a push-up bra called the boost. Each bra retails for $35.
“Starting with only bras and this was an intentional decision on our end,” said Kerner. “Once we’ve earned her trust, we will expand to other categories.”
Kerner said they’ve attempted to create a voice and marketing message that connects to Millennials. The site features a diverse set of models posing in bras with cucumbers over their eyes or a microphone in their hand. They are also adding a charitable element with the cheekily named Lift Up the Ladies initiative. For this program, Harper Wilde donates a portion of its proceeds to The Girl Project, which helps girls gain access to education. Additionally, they work with a manufacturer in Sri Lanka that uses a sustainable supply chain and offers a women’s empowerment program.
“We want to be a humorous and empowering brand,” said Kerner. “We want to have a voice that relates to everyday women and provides a shopping experience she can relate to.”
The company is currently based in Los Angeles and funded by angel investors along with a venture fund for students called Dorm Room Fund. Joanna Coles, the chief creative officer at Hearst, is an adviser for the brand.
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