Heidi Zak has spent the last decade thinking about bras so millions of women and bra wearers don’t have to. That’s the idea behind ThirdLove, the San Francisco-based lingerie brand Heidi, founded in 2012 with co-founders Ra’el Cohen and David Spector.
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“If you’re wearing a well-fitting bra, you should never think about it,” says Heidi. “You shouldn’t adjust your strap. You shouldn’t feel the wire sticking in. You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable.”
After a not-so-great shopping experience where Heidi bought a bra that didn’t quite fit, she thought, “There has to be something better.”
Heidi’s experience is shared by 80% of women who are all wearing the wrong bra size. ThirdLove solves this problem by using technology and data to offer twice as many sizing options and tools to help individuals find the right size.
In this episode of Shopify on siteHeidi shares how ThirdLove launched its product by helping women find the ideal bra fit.
Gathering customer feedback and pre-launch data
With size and fit being the most important considerations for Heidi and her co-founders, they enlisted the help of potential customers to try on their patterns. “We were a battered start-up in the early stages,” says Heidi. “And so we ran an ad on Craigslist to get product feedback.”
The women of San Francisco accepted the invitation. Hundreds entered ThirdLove’s two-story walk-in rental space to strip down and test out the brand’s bras.
This early pre-launch data collection was critical for ThirdLove as it tested the half-cup concept, something unique to the brand.
“Shoes are half sizes, now bras too,” says Heidi.
Build trust through product guarantees
ThirdLove helps individuals find their ideal fit virtual dressing room. The seamless flow of questions, images and Measuring tips has enabled more than 18 million women to find their size – and often it’s not the size they expected.
“65 to 70 percent of the women who do our fitting room online find that we recommend a different size than what they wear,” says Heidi. “That’s a great leap of faith.”
To mitigate the impact of this jump, ThirdLove introduced a program called “Try Before You Buy” that allows customers to try bras risk-free (customers only pay shipping) to fully experience the ThirdLove difference.
“This marketing program in the early days of ThirdLove, before we had brand awareness, was huge for us because it really took the hurdle out of customers worrying about trying a new brand and size,” says Heidi.
Adaptation to changing customer needs
A lot has changed in the last decade, including consumer preferences for bras. It’s a development that ThirdLove has adapted to by expanding its product offering. “We built our business with the underwired bra as the core,” says Heidi. “During COVID, we saw an increase in demand for wireless devices.”
In addition to offering more wireless options, ThirdLove also entered the sports bra market. Other brands traditionally use letter sizes for sports bras (small, medium, large). ThirdLove took a different approach.
“We launched sports bras about a year ago and that was really amazing because there are a lot of companies that sell sports bras but they don’t really deal with the fit perspective that we have,” says Heidi. “So our sports bras have a cup and band, just like regular bra sizes.”
Beyond sports bras, ThirdLove continues to meet its customers where they are by launching new products based on trends and demand: the company has recently ventured into both sportswear and loungewear.
To learn more about ThirdLove’s connection to San Francisco and his journey from fundraising to retail expansion, listen to Heidi’s full interview Shopify Master.