“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” In life and in business, rarely does everything go your way. As cliche as it might be, the soundest advice is to keep everything in perspective. Once you prioritize your needs as a person, as a partner, as a friend and as a business owner and you can see the big picture, life can move more freely.
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Klein.
Rachel Klein is the owner of Lulalu, an intimates company that makes bras exclusively for small-chested women. For the past decade, Lulalu has been the trailblazer in the industry, crafting and perfecting bras in AAA, AA and A cup sizes and band sizes 30–42 that fit real bodies, not just the conventional “petite” size.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Growing up in New York City, I always knew I wanted to work in fashion. Beyond the glitz and the glamour, I could feel the weight of what clothing meant to people… it was a way of showing your absolute “you-ness” — a visual storytelling that I just couldn’t get enough of.
When I got to high school, I really started to adapt this mentality of expressing myself through fashion. I remember vividly the day I went shopping for my first real bra; it was a big deal, not just because of how adult that felt, but because I knew that it would serve as the canvas for my expression.
I went to the largest bra retailer in Manhattan to get my measurements taken. The experts fitted me as a 34B and just like that 34B bras were flying off the shelves and into my wardrobe. For years I wore a 34B… years. Until I realized these uncomfortable, ill-fitting things were just absolutely not right for me. It turns out, after another measure, I was a 36AA, a far cry from what is inevitably a scaled version of a mass produced template.
Taking on Lulalu was the easiest decision I’ve ever made. I’ve heard so many stories just like my own from our customers and being able to create something that has such a real impact on other people’s lives fills me with endless gratitude.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
For the past ten years we’ve been championing women with small boobs, a largely overlooked and often misunderstood market that was just as deserving of real, focused attention. While the rest of the industry set their sights on the so-called “average” cup (formerly 34B, now 34DDD!) to appeal to the “masses,” we were listening to our community of small-chested friends. We still are.
At Lulalu, we are constantly developing, testing and refining our craft in order to create the very best bras for small busts. We dedicate an incredible amount of time and research to make sure our intimates are made of the highest-quality materials and guarantee a natural fit that celebrates the unique curves of the female form.
We continue to be inspired by our customers, a community of small-chested women that we aim to uplift and empower every day by designing something that makes them feel GOOD. Really good. This community is made up of women from all over the world, each with a desire to express their own “you-ness.”
Think, for example, about the woman who recently had a mastectomy. About the woman who just had explant surgery. About the young adult. About the transgender woman. About every woman who has ever been told that a one-size-fits-all model is as good as it gets. To you, our women, we say: you are seen, you are heard, and we are here to continue to blaze a path forward and change the narrative.
The importance of a bra is not lost on us; it affects women emotionally, mentally and physically and can symbolize a new chapter in your life or a fresh start. No matter the significance, the thread that ties us all together is that we deserve to feel attractive, comfortable and confident. These intimates are for us. These intimates are for you.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When we were doing our very first shoot for the website, we decided to put the ladies into groups based on the bra size they wear — 32A, 34A etc. As we started fitting them, we BOTH had this moment where we were like… wait a minute, this isn’t right. We had missed our own memo that many women don’t actually know their real bra size, just like me and my 34B when I was a teenager. That day will stay with me forever because we were able to come together as a collective and laugh and swap stories and share experiences about what it’s like to live with small boobs. When we finally fit the models in their new, perfect AA and AAA cup sizes, it was really, really special.
Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I’m lucky to have my grandmother as my mentor. Having someone so close that is always available for guidance, whether it be life or business, has been and continues to be invaluable. Every once in a while I’ll try to be rebellious and forego her guidance, but every single time, without fail, it’s a bad idea. She really does know best and it’s not lost on me how special having her as a guide truly is.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
The disruption we’ve seen over the past ten years, from a body image perspective and from a mental health prospective, has been incredible. We, as a collective, are opening ourselves up and trying to move through life with vulnerability and courage. We’re looking directly at issues women have faced since the beginning of time and saying no, it’s time for real change. As a company, we have always been an advocate for women; that was the seed that became the root that became Lulalu. We have always used our platform to inspire, empower, educate, uplift and inform and will continue to do so.
That said, this is not necessarily the case with other businesses in the intimates space. Rather than designing something that’s well-made, introspective and frankly, RIGHT, many, many, many brands are happy to rush to market and be done with it. They create a general bra template and they stick with it without taking into account quality nonetheless different body types. Even in a small category like ours, making bras for small-chested women, people have found a way to mass market something that is niche. This level of accessibility may be great, but at what cost to the customer?
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
In life and in business, rarely does everything go your way. As cliche as it might be, the soundest advice is to keep everything in perspective. Once you prioritize your needs as a person, as a partner, as a friend and as a business owner and you can see the big picture, life can move more freely.
“There’s always more to learn.”
Be an active listener. When you’re having a conversation with someone, pay attention to what they’re actually saying instead of preparing your response. We’re all guilty of it sometimes, but it’s important to remind ourselves to listen graciously and with an open mind.
Positivity is one of those things that people talk about but may struggle to feel within themselves. Carve out time for mindfulness, meditation or just a quiet moment to reflect on your achievements. Be kind to yourself. Positivity has far-reaching benefits for your own self image, decision making and impact on others.
How are you going to shake things up next?
Great things are coming from Lulalu. We’re expanding our cup and band sizes as wide as we can to be inclusive to every woman in our small-breasted community. We’re introducing new colors and textures and styles. We’re building our digital and social media presence and creating a space where women can share and learn and connect. We’re doing everything we can to support our customers physically, mentally and emotionally.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
I’ve really been enjoying NPR’s “How I Built This with Guy Raz.” Each podcast episode follows a different innovator or entrepreneur and talks about their journey and the movements they built. As an entrepreneur myself, hearing these stories of success and failure along the way has been enlightening and inspiring.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The Golden Rule!
Treat others the way you want to be treated, it’s as simple as that. Treating people with respect and kindness is not just the right thing to do, it also pays dividends.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Our mission is to inspire body positivity and we’ve put everything we have behind this movement. We are committed to thoughtfully designing bras for women with small boobs that feel tailor-made for them. No gaps. No excessive padding. No harsh underwire. Just a beautiful AND comfortable bra that can serve as our customer’s own canvas. We remain dedicated to our community and are implementing even more ways we can all stay connected through support groups, workshops, content and more.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can follow us at Lulalu through our website, lulalu.com; through our newsletter; through our Instagram, @lulalu, and through our Facebook, Lulalu. Soon we’ll be launching a Facebook group for women to connect and share experiences, tips, advice and more. Join us on the journey.