Kerner and Fisher are disrupting the bra business and having fun while they’re at it with Harper Wilde.
What inspired you to start a bra company?
Fisher: The idea came about very organically. We asked a simple question: “Why are bras so expensive?” We did a ton of research to figure out why the industry was so antiquated, but we just ran into more questions. We didn’t understand why brands were hyper-sexualized, or why typical models did not resemble the everyday woman. Why did bras come with those odd embellishments that almost no woman wanted, let alone purchased. And we certainly did not understand why bras needed to cost $60-$80 – or more!
When we began running focus groups and surveys with women to better understand what the true pain points were, one thing became crystal clear almost immediately – women hated buying bras. Busy, driven, successful women were so fed up with the process, they were buying bras they didn’t love and keeping them for way longer than they should, just to avoid repeating the process. One woman even told us “buying bras is like a tax on being female.” Needless to say, comments like this further drove our passion to make an overdue change in this industry.
What are a few of the problems that your bras solve?
Kerner: Other companies are innovating on the product. After two years of research, focus groups, and collecting hundreds of bra dressing room horror stories, we realized that the true issues lie not in the products themselves, but rather in the experience of shopping for them. Creating an amazing product was crucial. But we built the simplest, most hassle-free experience possible. We nixed measuring tapes, 17-page surveys, and the hundreds of options. We provide thoughtful designs, fair prices, and free home try-ons, so that a woman can find her fit in the privacy of her home. We call it ra hopping: Bra Shopping, without the B.S.
It’s difficult not to notice the humor on your website, including this video. Was humor something you knew you wanted to incorporate in your business all along?
Kerner: Humor was something we wanted to incorporate into the fabric of the company from the start. The first two things we invested in were great products and the video, to help communicate our story. We looked around the bra industry and we found brands that were either hypersexualized or overly serious. As we picked apart the process of shopping for a bra, we found so many moments of absurdity of what we have to deal with that we couldn’t help but poke fun at the industry a bit. Buying bras doesn’t have to feel like a TSA screening at airport security. It should be empowering, easy, and if we can really nail it, a little funny too.
While we love to bring humor and life to this hyper-sexualized industry, we also have a very serious mission to Lift Up The Ladies…[through our partnership] with The Girl Project.
Would you tell me more about your partnership with The Girl Project?
Fisher: The Girl Project helps put young girls through school so we can lift up the next generation of leading ladies. We spent nearly as long vetting a social impact partner as we did building this company. When we started this adventure, we were students, fortunate to be in a position to learn, explore and challenge traditional norms. But we knew there were millions of girls without access to education. We set out to find an organization whose values aligned with our own – one who also understood that behind every strong, successful woman is an educated young girl. The Girl Project met so many of the criteria we were looking for in a partner. Jenna and I were inspired by their passion to educate girls on a global level and their ability to have tangible impact in doing so. We couldn’t be more thrilled to work together to achieve our mission of Lifting Up The Ladies.
On your site, you pose the question, “Why is a product that is meant for us, typically marketed toward men?” Can you elaborate more on this a little?
Kerner: Looking at the brands out there, you see women clad in lingerie and angels who look unattainably beautiful. The messaging pushed into the market makes women feel like they should match their bra and underwear everyday, or that the basic, everyday bra is boring and shouldn’t be the go-to. And yet, on average a woman has 16 bras in her drawer, and only wears 2-3 of them. When asked, many women say, almost sheepishly, that they wear an everyday bra nearly every day. Why are women embarrassed by that? We’re all doing it. That’s how we reply. You aren’t alone. We’re all wearing the comfortable, durable, everyday bras, even if marketing from traditional companies tells us we should be wearing the sexy lingerie. So we wanted to flip the messaging and let women know it’s okay – hell, it’s even cool – to love your everyday bra.
Why is your company called Harper Wilde?
Kerner: It took us nearly six months to come up with a name that we felt encompassed the ethos of the brand. We distilled down the most important values of the company, and we kept coming back to empowerment and education. We looked to women educators and authors, and found inspiration from two iconic authors, Harper Lee and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Not only is it a nod to two influential women, but it refers to timeless classics, much like our everyday products.