Data-driven retailer with a better, data-driven way to shop for bras.
"Buzz" constitutes four stars and over 500 comments on True & Co.'s site. And they all mostly sing to the tune of this review, left by a customer named Jessica: "I'm not usually a fan of strapless bras, but apparently I have just never had one that fit properly!
True & Co. has thrived as an online-only lingerie company, but it had a hard-to-shake handicap: Many women want to try on a bra before they buy. The company didn’t want to bog itself down with brick-and-mortar stores, so it launched the Try-On Truck, currently fitting women on a coast-to-coast tour.
Michelle Lam is on the same page. She’s the CEO and co-founder of True & Co., a bra business founded on a detailed Fit Quiz that identifies problems in your current bra model before recommending a new one.
This is True & Co.’s first foray into physical retail, and it converges four trends in one; part pop-up shop and fit shop, the truck is Lam’s iteration of “nomadic retail” and was inspired by the tiny home movement.
Although fashion trucks and mobile boutiques are nothing new, True&Co.'s Try-On Truck is the first of its kind to exclusively focus on custom bra fittings.
The pint-sized digs include four fitting rooms for sampling a selection of True&Co.'s well-curated bras, which are selected based on the fitting as well as the results of a Fit Quiz that customers will take before hopping aboard.
"Appointments at the Try-On Truck are more like a bridal-boutique session than the back of a Victoria's Secret, where addled employees thrust fistfuls of linty sample models at lines of vaguely traumatized ladies. And why not? Bras are just as complicated as plenty of wedding dresses, and women wear them every day."
"With the Try-on Truck, we wanted to create an experience that's not only more personal but leaves women feeling positive and empowered. We're pioneering ‘nomadic retail' to transform the way women shop for lingerie."
True & Co. is taking bra fittings on the road with the kickoff of the True & Co.' National Try-on Truck Tour. The company has created a mobile shop inspired by the tiny home movement. The 24-foot-by-eight-foot mobile boutique was designed by Spiegel Aihara Workshop and Mobile Office Architects.
Michelle Lam and her company, True&Co, are using data to build a better bra in a smarter way. Lam, founder of the San Francisco-based company which launched in 2012, is featured on CNN's Smart Business about how to avoid awkward fittings.
The idea for True & Co. came to Michelle Lam during a shopping trip. She was a former principal at Bain Capital in Boston who’d moved with her husband to San Francisco in 2011. “I wasn’t intending to focus on bras until I got stuck in a lingerie store fitting room in San Francisco, and two hours later I walked out empty-handed,” she says. Since then, Lam has been working on designing an alternative for the Internet Age.
“This is interesting,” Lam said, cocking her head and snapping the black elastic band that clung to the taupe-colored behind. “It’s the 20-second wear theme that’s making its way into the wardrobe of good girls everywhere.” Lam knows this because her company obsesses over what women think of lingerie. A self-professed algorithm geek who used to evaluate investment opportunities for Bain Capital Ventures, Lam built her two-year-old company around a 16-question quiz that susses out the best bras for a woman based on her body’s shape and how her current undergarments fit. More than one million women have taken the quiz, which boils down to 22 million data points. Each one helps Lam better understand what women want from the top drawer of their dresser.
The company, which has grown tenfold in the past year, has been called both "the Warby Parker of bras" and "the Netflix of bras," and each is more or less accurate. So far, more than a million women have taken the fit quiz, giving the company nearly 15 million data points to mine for refining its products and service.
Shopping for a comfortable bra can sometimes prove a surprisingly complicated and frustrating ordeal.But now one company claims to have created a collection of bras that fit differently shaped women perfectly - based on information collected from over 500,000 females.
True&Co is part of a growing group of startups that’s using data to make physical products a better fit for their customers.
Lam and her team have launched Uniform, a ground-breaking collection of 15 essentials, including eight bras made to fit the more than 6,000 body types identified by the True&Co team.
True & Co., which markets itself as “your personal bra shop online,” also uses an online quiz to gauge your lingerie preferences, but it figures out your size and style based on an algorithm. “It’s marrying data with a highly personal apparel shopping experience,” says founder Michelle Lam. Wantful, a now-defunct e-commerce platform for personalized gifts, also outsourced part of its process to an algorithm.
True&Co.'s Head of UX, Sarah Harrison, provides a very human look inside what her work life is like — the path that brought her here, the tools she uses everyday, and how she tackles the big and small problems that arise.
Personal shopping bra site True&Co. announced that they are changing their sizing from number-letter combos (32A, 34C, etc.) to Kitten Sizing (from Double Newborn to Double Fluffy, etc.) because a number of customers call their breasts "Cats in Sacks."
Stores carry fewer size options — especially for cups past DD — and you’ll easily find brands not available locally. Try True&Co (trueandco.com), an online bra site that gives you a “fit” quiz (no tape measures!), offers suggestions, and sends you five bras to try (three are your picks, two from them) — and you keep and pay for only those you like. Shipping and returns are free. You won’t find every size in every brand. They edit each bra to fit specific profiles.
What are your hopes for the future of True&Co.? "I truly believe we are changing an industry. Lingerie is a deeply emotional space - it's about your body, your inner confidence. We are building a different kind of lingerie company for women by women. I remember starting True&Co. in my living room and seeing the look of absolute joy on women's faces as they looked themselves in the mirror. I want to bring that joy to women around the world."
Emotional design-centric e-commerce is emerging from startups like True & Co, which just closed on a new venture funding round.
E-commerce company True&Co launched last year to apply a bit of personalization and technology to aid women in their searches for new bras. The company just raised a little bit more funding to invest more in its algorithm for matching customers with bras that not only fit well but also look good.
The same smile appeared when I was filling out the brief quiz for True & Co., a new startup that’s trying to rethink how women buy bras. The company asks you a variety of questions that are meant to find out the best shape and size of your bras, and it has put a lot of thought into doing this in an innovative, creative, and tactful way (boobs can be a tricky subject).
BI: But don't people want to try things on to make sure they're the right size, in a store? ML: It's a very complicated process where the numbers don't mean anything. Women used to go into a fitting room and spend two hours half naked in that fitting room. Trial and error. The entire process is controlled by the salesperson who brings you bra after bra and is invasive because she is in there with her. The customer told us she didn't want anybody to see her half naked in a fitting room. I'm a woman. I went through that process. When we started building the company, I had 500 bras in my living room and was always inviting women over to try these on and see their reactions. They didn't want to be seen. They don't want to do it in front of other people. They don't want to go to the store.
The history of e-commerce is marked by start-ups devising ways to sell products that were once thought of as unsuitable for sale online. Shoes were not supposed to be something customers would buy online, but then Zappos showed it could be done. The same thing was said about eyeglasses, until Warby Parker came along. But bras, which are among the most personal items someone can buy, represent the Everest of online retail challenges...But as with shoes and eyeglasses, so too with bras: it’s love at first touch and try, even in the digital age.
According to Yelp, the best "all-around" bra fitters in San Francisco are at Nordstrom. So I called their corporate office with a proposition: a face-off between their best bra fitter and the algorithm from True&Co., a personalized online bra shop.
Fun facts we learned after 365 days in the bra business. We have an in-depth point of view on everything bras and breasts thanks to our algorithm and dataset of customers.
Michelle Lam is the Co-founder and CEO of online intimate apparel designer and retailer, True&Co. As the first female investor at Bain Capital Ventures, Michelle developed a passion for data-driven online retail, where she worked with multiple startups, including RentTheRunway and LinkedIn. Previously, Michelle’s background includes the Boston Consulting Group, Microsoft, and Parthenon Capital. Michelle has been names Top 40 under 40 by the SF Business Times and one of Fast Company's Most Creative People.
Prior to joining True&Co., Beatrice was a co-founder/COO of Modewalk, which she later sold to Moda Operandi. She has been a Venture Fellow at Lightspeed Venture Partners and has extensive experience at Nokia, Microsoft, and Merrill Lynch. Beatrice received her B.A. in Economics from Colorado College and an MBA from Stanford University.