Alice and Fleurette founded Attollo Lingerie, a website catering for larger bust sized ladies, while studying at Kings College London.
They found all existing designs frumpy and garish so spent their time building up a new brand called Attollo, meaning ‘I lift up, I raise, I excite’ in Latin.
The aim of the business is to make e D+ bras substantially better, focusing on the shape and aesthetics of bras.
Three years later they have secured funding from investors in return for equity, which means they can fund a factory and launch a range of designs.
This has helped them change from “wi-fi nomads” using free facilities in coffee shops, to sharing plush offices with their investors.
But it hasn’t all be plain sailing.
From bra-fitters to designers
Towards the end of university they were starting to run out of money and had to fund loan repayments.
So they got jobs as bra-fitters and lived on egg sandwiches for three years, as Fleurette explains:
“We had to live on bootstraps for a year and a half. We wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for our parents giving us monthly allowances.
“We took on bra fitting jobs as we had loan repayments but this also helped strengthen our proposition for Attollo Lingerie as it gave us industry knowledge and expertise.”
Attollo will be run purely online but the girls plan to run bra fitting parties, recognising that the whole process of getting measured for lingerie can be uncomfortable.
So what is the secret to their success? A lot of hard work and networking. They have managed to capture the attention of big fashion magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan by keeping an eye on related stories.
Alice says ultimately you have to be yourself and the right investor will come along, she explains: “We initially had a Kickstarter video and we went to venture capitalist offices and chased people down.”
“We often changed our proposition to emphasise the e-commerce element, but the investors who invested saw us for what we are and weren’t as concerned about the tech side.
“You need to project what you want the brand to be.”
“You have to have such an unstoppable willpower to immerse your life in it and love it even when it is at rock bottom.”