A Perfect Fit
Emily Lau, founder of The Little Bra Company, proves good things do come in small packages. Dressed in a blush pink sheath and flat slippers, Emily Lau introduces her friends to me one by one. There's Jenny, smooth and contoured with peek-a-boo lace detail; Julia, in soft mesh for undetectable comfort under t-shirts; and of course, Lucia, the original and the one that started it all. It turns out that Lucia is really "Luc", the man who inspired the entire collection of "friends" Lau has since racked up, because it was Luc, her partner, who encouraged her to create The Little Bra Company. Perhaps it was just a reaction to her persistent brainstorming, regardless, Lau smiles recalling how Luc gave her the push she needed to make her ideas come to life. He passed away after battling cancer a couple of years ago, but any remaining traces of hardship is hidden beneath Lau's shining eyes and bright smile.
A USC graduate and former writer-producer, Lau has a friendly, open demeanor, like a big sister who doesn't keep good secrets to herself. In fact, the idea for The Little Bra Company came about as a way to share bra solutions with her fellow petite sisters. It's obvious Lau places importance on her relationships; she names her collections after friends and people who have supported her and made an impact on her life. Just like her posse, they came in various shapes, sizes, and colors. The spring collection is in stores as of February, and as of this interview, she has just finished designing and producing the fall/winter collection. The sets are an array of simplicity and dainty details, but first and foremost, there is an emphasis on comfort. These days, Lau looks to her customers for inspiration and to continue fulfilling different needs. This is how Elizabeth was born; not much of an athlete herself, Lau found many women asking her to design a sturdy yet unrestrictive sports bra that wouldn't flatten the chest. The result is a lightly padded, breathable sports bra that flatters without underwire.
As I admire the well-rounded collection of lingerie on the racks, Lau grinds some fresh coffee beans and puts a pot of water on the stove. She exudes a calming and welcoming energy that puts one at ease. Almost immediately, it feels like we are old friends – perhaps it is the scent of coffee brewing or perhaps it is her willingness to share. Either way, good conversation follows and it is as comfortable as wearing, well, just about any one of TLBC's bras.
AL: Since launching The Little Bra Company in 2007, the brand can now be found in stores in 35 states (Including D.C) and in 10 countries (outside of the U.S.), in addition to online. Did the business turn out to be what you expected when you launched?
EL: Since I started The Little Bra Company, it's been my mission to make our products available to as many petite women around the world as possible. Every week, we open new accounts with retail boutiques in the U.S. and abroad, which is always what I hoped for and planned for the business. However, the most unexpected growth that has occurred since launching the company has been the growth of our e-commerce business. Fortunately, just when I started the business was when more people started to shop online in general, and luckily, The Little Bra Company had an online store that was ready to take their orders. Now we are able to reach customers globally, and they can shop with us 24/7.
AL: What has been the most rewarding part of your business?
EL: The most rewarding part of my business is hearing and seeing the reaction from satisfied customers. I never tire of hearing the squeals of joy when a woman tries on one of our bras for the first time and says, "Wow!" This is what my body is supposed to look like! I have cleavage! And I feel grateful that customers write to us saying that we've somehow changed their lives. I started this company because I was frustrated that I couldn't find the right bra and right fit for myself. Now, to be able to provide a bra that meets someone's particular needs and makes her feel good about herself is really fulfilling.
AL: What has been the most difficult part of your business?
EL: The most difficult part of my business is trying to do all the things I want to do to make the business grow all at once. I have so many ideas every day from design to marketing that I just can't seem to find enough hours in one day to achieve it all. Thank Goodness for my "A-teamd" though. I couldn't do it without them.
AL: Why do you think it’s difficult to find petite sizes in regular stores? Why don’t they make that available?
EL: Regular stores are targeted towards a mainstream customer. Petite or smaller-framed women may not be considered mainstream, but they are definitely a powerful consumer base, especially when it comes to fashion. Unfortunately, not all retailers recognize that, and therefore, they miss out on providing products that could fit this customer better.
AL: Where do you usually find your inspiration for The Little Bra Company, whether as a business or in the design?
EL: I find my inspiration from my customers. They tell me what they want in a bra. The first collection I designed was based on everything that I wanted in a bra. Today, I'm always reading customer feedback to find out what their needs are. For example, the idea for the Elizabeth sports bra came directly from customers who requested it.
AL: Do you have any personal favorites of The Little Bra Company you can share?
EL: Lucia is still my personal favorite. It was the first bra I designed and it just happens to be our bestseller.
AL: It’s the year of the horse, the year to make things happen! Do you have any current or new goals for yourself?
EL: "Make it happen" is my daily mantra no matter what year it is. Although TLBC has some presence in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia already, I really want to see it become bigger there this year.
AL: If you were packing for a trip and you could only pick one bra to bring, which bra currently available from TLBC would you pack?
EL: I would pack Angela. It is the most versatile bra in the collection for me. It's essentially a t-shirt bra, but it has convertible straps so that I can wear it with different silhouettes. Plus, I love the cleavage it gives me!