Ground Floor: UI Student Starts Specialty Bra Store
The motto of Elise Froh's new business is "big or small, we support them all."
She's talking about women's busts.
Mobile Bra Shoppe is a specialty bra retailer that offers professional measuring and fitting services to customers in the comfort of their own homes.
The business arose from a need Froh saw in the Iowa City area for busy women like herself.
Froh, who is pursuing a degree in business analytics and information systems at the University of Iowa, moved to Iowa City in 2012. When it came time to shop for a new bra, she discovered that the area lacked a specialty bra store, and department and discount stores did not carry her size.
"Bra band sizes run from 28 to 64 inches, and cup sizes start at AA and go through M or N," she explained. "Most stores carry only 30 or 32 to 44 bands and A to D cups."
Because of the limited selection of sizes available locally, petite and fuller-figured women are left with only two options, she said, to travel to the nearest store in another town or to order online and risk a poor fit.
"I didn't want to drive 30 miles just to get a bra," Froh said. "And I hated buying online."
Froh saw an opportunity to fill a market need and began saving money to open a mobile bra shop.
"I have no time for a brick-and-mortar location," the college junior said.
Last fall, Froh learned about an elevator pitch competition at the University of Iowa. She prepared a two-minute pitch about her business idea, entered the competition, and won a $2,500 cash prize.
She used the money to buy inventory, which she said she did extensive research on before buying anything.
"The biggest issue was educating myself about which manufacturer uses which measuring system," Froh said.
The Mobile Bra Shoppe carries seven different lines of women's bras that are not otherwise available locally.
The business is based on a two-appointment system. The first visit, which takes place in either the customer's home or Froh's office on campus, involves a professional measuring and fitting, which is free with a bra purchase. Customers can also make selections from Froh's catalogs and inventory.
Froh then orders the customer's selections and schedules a second appointment to deliver the purchases and ensure a correct fit.
Froh said Mobile Bra Shoppe is sometimes mistaken for a multi-level marketing business, but she is not affiliated with any brand associated with that business model.
"It's just me," she said. "I fill the gaps that Victoria's Secret can't."