It’s difficult to find comfortable training bra’s, and to launch a business admits a pandemic, but these boss ladies did it! In 2020 Western students Jessica and Chloe launched Apricotton, a brand tailored for the 1.2 million girls aged 9-14 across Canada who struggle to find bras that fit their body type due to the lack of tween bra options. These options include comfy, bralette styles, and focus towards sustainable movement. In less than two months, the Apricotton movement has gained 2.5 million social media impressions and 15,000 followers. We sat down with the Apricotton team to learn more about the brand, and what they offer! 

What were some of the biggest difficulties launching a brand during (the pandemic?)

J&C: Starting a brand during the pandemic was difficult. We started designing our first bras in April 2020 and found it really difficult to find a manufacturer. Many of them had momentarily shut down or converted into only producing facemasks. It took us about 3 months to find a manufacturer that matched our values and quality standards. 

More recently, we had a really great Boxing Week in December and surprisingly sold out of 80% of our inventory during this period. Our manufacturers actually shut down for the entirety of February, because they wanted to give their employees the time to quarantine during the Lunar New Year celebration. We’re happy to be working with manufacturers that care about their employees, but it also means longer wait times for our customers to receive their pre-orders. 

Why did you start Apricotton?

C: One day during our university class, we started chatting about our experiences with bra shopping when we were 12, and we remembered how awkward it was to go in store and try on 10 different bras that were obviously not made for our smaller bodies. We had to choose between highly-sexualized lingerie stores with intimidating sales associates or cheaply-made one-size-fits-all department store brands. Realizing that there has been no innovation in the bra industry, we saw this as an opportunity to disrupt the undergarment industry for teen girls, helping them feel confident during puberty. 

Where did you get your inspiration from?

J: I took my 13-year-old sister bra shopping for the first time last year and noticed how uncomfortable she felt in lingerie stores. After searching in multiple teen stores, the only bra we were able to find that fit her was a 30A sports bra, and after only 8 months, she grew out of it and we had to start the process all over again. While we were shopping, I asked her what features she would want in a bra, seeing that she gravitated towards white, black, and nude bras without padding. After brainstorming with her, I started to sketch bras that ended up being Apricotton’s first three bras. 

What are some sustainable goals of Apricotton?

J&C: One of our goals is to design our bras with high quality fabrics so they last multiple years. Often brands directed towards tweens and teens know that they’ll grow out of their clothes quickly, so they use lower quality and shorter lasting materials. We designed our bras with durable, moisture-wicking fabrics and adjustable features so they can last through multiple stages of puberty. As we develop new products, we want to ensure the same level of quality.

Our second goal is to create an ethical supply chain, starting with our manufacturer. We have taken the time to find a Chinese manufacturer who aligns with our values, ensuring they adhere to workplace safety and pay fair wages. Jessica speaks Mandarin, so she has developed a personal relationship with our production manager to better understand our production conditions. As we grow, we hope to visit our manufacturer in person.  

What advice would you give to people looking to launch a business?

C: You don’t need business or industry experience to start your own company. Jessica and I are very passionate about fashion, but didn’t have a technical fashion background. Instead, we reached out to people with their own apparel startups or small seamstresses to learn how the design process works. We also built a strong relationship with our manufacturer who helped us perfect our initial bra designs and pick out the right fabrics. We also didn’t have a lot of experience with startups, so we joined a couple of accelerators to find mentors. If you’re interested in an idea, don’t be intimated to start. You’ll learn along the way and you’ll find plenty of people that are willing to help.

How is Apricotton different than other training bra’s and such for tween girls?

J&C: Training bras are made with a flimsy tank top-like material, and their only use is to get a girl used to wearing a bra without any actual features like adjustability, comfort, or coverage. Our bras are much more than a training bra. They’re designed to last through multiple stages of puberty with features like moisture-wicking soft fabric, a stretchy elastic band, adjustable and hide-able straps, and removable cup padding to grow as the girl grows. Our bras are specifically made for tween and teen girls, to fit their body type, with simpler sizing that only uses the under-bust measurement. Additionally, we personally hand wrap all of our bras like a present, because buying your first bra is something that should be celebrated. 

What’s next for the Apricotton team?

J&C: We’ve gotten incredible feedback from moms and girls that are interested in buying new designs. We actually created a poll on Instagram and TikTok about what girls are looking for in a bra and we took this feedback to design three new bra styles that we’re planning to launch late spring!

We currently have three bra styles available to order in Canada and the U.S.  

  1. Perfect Bra: The Perfect Bra is made to fit perfectly, making it a great first introduction to wearing a bra. It will help you become more comfortable with putting on bras, as you simply have to pull the bra over your head like a t-shirt.
  2. Perfect Sports Bra: The Perfect Sports Bra is made to support you so you can achieve peak performance when staying active. Our moisture-wicking material provides sweat control and has a stretchable elastic band for maximum comfort.
  3. Perfect Bralette: The Perfect Bralette is the best bra to lounge around in. Its soft fabric, thin straps, and stretchy elastic band make you feel like you’re not wearing a bra. Its easy to use, one-hook back clasp gets you used to putting on a bra.