You may not know this, but my first product, the Everyday Bustier, was a total flop. It was clunky and way too complicated. (A few women found it life-changing, but… it was only a few.) It launched in 2018 and within six months it was clear that we would be unable to turn it around. In the end the inventory was liquidated and we had to completely dump the design.
Thank God, for that failure.
That failure taught me everything I needed to know to make the amazing products you are likely wearing today.
More often than not, we think that if failure happens, it's because we are failures. But here’s the thing: if you were to name your top three favorite entrepreneurs, chances are, all three started with some pretty epic failures, whopping mistakes; and lost a pile of money doing it.
I also read recently about a child study, which showed that girls are more likely to attribute failure to their intrinsic qualities and lack of ability. Boys are more likely to attribute failing to external controllable circumstances. Those are broad generalizations that may or may not ring true for you, but I can tell you that it rings true for me. And it’s not just the way I felt, but it’s in the data. Women are much less likely to receive venture funding (2% of venture financing went to women in 2021), and even less likely to receive it again after their first venture fails.
So, I want you to consider me and Evelyn & Bobbie as a case study. Now, we can barely make our bras fast enough. We get love letters from customers every day. Word of mouth is our strongest marketing tool. I’m proud to say, we are doing great. Beyond my wildest dreams, given our rough start.
The key is that I didn’t give up. No matter how much doubt was cast my way, I knew that if I still didn’t have a wirefree bra I loved, then other women felt the same. I felt it in my bones. While I hadn’t gotten it right the first time, my failure had indeed revealed everything I needed to change to get it right. That’s what I had made a promise to myself to do, and I wasn’t going to give up.
Now, every day when I get dressed, I’m proud to say that I put on underwear much like my husband does: “This fits. Feels great. Let’s get some shit done.” Let’s just say, before Evelyn & Bobbie bras, that was not my experience. Rather, it included pain, insecurity, frustration, and constant disappointment. (Not to mention sometimes literally resting my boobs on my desk halfway through the day.)
So I say to you now: teach your daughters to fail forward. Help your friends and mentees understand the difference between defeat and a hard lesson. Look to famous entrepreneurs and their past (often monumental) failings to remind you that people rarely nail it on their first try.
You are enough. Hard work and tenacity are rare and precious. Failure is your friend.
P.S. Thank you to my truly tremendous investor who stood by EB through our relaunch. I am forever grateful to them for giving me grace.