Before I launched Exclusively Kristen, I did some research and quickly discovered that big bust fashion has a much stronger presence in Europe, specifically the United Kingdom. This is surprising because the USA has a much larger population than the UK and the average bra sizes for both countries are bountiful 36D (UK) and 34DD (USA) (Note: owners of USA-based lingerie boutiques that carry a wide range of sizes dispute these findings. They state that the average cup size range from a FF to an H cup). So despite the larger customer base, why are there so few thriving companies in the USA that specialize in apparel for large busted women?
A few months after Exclusively Kristen officially launched, Hourglassy mentioned us in a blog post that shed light on the fledgling big bust fashion industry in the USA.
"I know of only one new arrival on the American scene, a small Brooklyn startup called Exclusively Kristen. There is also the growing line of DD Cup and Up dresses from Bolero. Otherwise, large bust clothing manufacturing appears to be contracting in the United States. The ecommerce platforms for Carissa Rose and Jailyn Apparel are currently inactive, and all InStyle Essentials shirts have just gone on final sale for $15! The websites for AJRumina and Campbell & Kate have been the same for years–AJRumina because the founders are balancing full-time jobs and families, and Campbell & Kate because I’m still trying to fix my pattern and production issues."
When I mentioned to friends and family that I was starting a fashion company for large busted ladies, a number of them responded with: "Someone else does that. I saw it in Oprah Magazine." That "someone else" is Carissa Rose, which is now defunct. So what's going on?
The major player in the big bust fashion industry is Pepperberry, which is located in the UK. Pepperberry is an offshoot of Bravissimo, which is a thriving and profitable lingerie company. Thus, Pepperberry started out with a lot of capital and a pre-existing customer base and business platform. Perhaps the successful rise of Pepperberry's brand caused a capillary effect in the UK that was taken up by bloggers and other fashion influencers, which kept the big bust fashion industry thriving. On the other hand, the USA-based companies appear to be small businesses devoid of the millions of dollars that Pepperberry had at its genesis. It seems like many, if not all, of the now defunct USA-based companies simply ran out of money or didn't have the money or time to scale the business.
I am definitely learning from the unique issues of running a small business in a niche and underdeveloped (in the USA) market. Luckily, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep Exclusively Kristen viable and growing. Many thanks to all of our supporters!