Setting out to change the bra industry
Finding the right bra, especially your first bra, isn’t always easy. When Megan Grassell took her 13-year-old sister shopping for her first bra, Megan was disappointed to find that there were no age-appropriate options. Everything had padding or underwire. And most importantly, her sister didn’t feel comfortable in any of them.
Megan decided something needed to change. She didn’t want girls to feel pressured to grow up too quickly. Instead, she thought they should be able to find cute bras in fun colors that would make them feel confident. So Megan started her own bra company called Yellowberry. Read our interview with Megan to see what it’s like to start your own company as a teen.
How old are you?
I am 19.
Why did you decide to start Yellowberry?
I started Yellowberry because there were no great bra options for younger girls. I had my epiphany (or a-ha moment) shopping with my younger sister to buy her first bras. I was shocked at the bras she was supposed to buy! She was (and still is) my baby sister, and I didn’t think she needed to be wearing anything that was padded, push-up, or offered to make her look “two cup sizes larger.” I remember thinking to myself: Where is the cute, colorful bra for a young girl? Because we couldn’t find any that she liked, I decided to make my own bras for tween girls. That’s why I started Yellowberry!
How did you come up with the name Yellowberry?
If you think about a berry as it ripens, it goes through different stages of yellow before its final color of orange, red, pink, et cetera. Those yellow stages happen in every berry! Sometimes they happen quickly, sometimes slowly, but it’s a natural process that shouldn’t be rushed. For a girl, those yellow stages are when you are growing up and becoming a woman. Yellowberry represents the celebration of these years, not the rush to grow up.
What is it like starting your own company?
It is fascinating, extremely challenging (especially as Yellowberry continues to grow), and completely addictive. I don’t think a moment goes by when I’m not working or thinking about work, and I love that. Our entire team is like that. In a start-up environment, that is what makes it so much fun. The passion, the ambition, the drive, and the vision for the future of the company are incredible. I love the freedom that comes with starting my own company. I love being my own boss and creating something that didn’t exist before. I think those are some of the most fulfilling things someone can do.
When we first started, I knew that I was going to need help because I don’t know how to sew. I started working with a seamstress in Jackson, Wyoming, to make the first patterns and bra examples. I used my sister and her friends as fit models and listened very carefully to what they thought of the bras, because they were my future customers. From there, I was able to find a manufacturer in California, which is where the products have been produced since the beginning. We are now in the process of moving into some bigger manufacturing facilities!
As a start-up, we are a small team, and each member has to wear many hats and contribute a ton of work to the company. I focus on a couple of key elements. I do all of our social media, marketing, and branding. As the company is my vision, I maintain a very strong hand over the brand itself, and this is my most favorite part of my job.
What are your goals for Yellowberry?
I want Yellowberry to be the brand that younger girls go to when buying bras. I want our brand to be an inspiration for girls to find their passions and follow their dreams. I know that when I was that age, I did not have a place to go and be a part of a community of girls like me. I hope to create that through the brand and social media. It’s such a fun time in your life. Yellowberry stands for cultivating a sense of confidence, of feelings that go beyond any actual product.
How do you balance school and being a young entrepreneur?
Yellowberry began during my last year and a half of high school. However, it wasn’t until my last semester of my senior year that Yellowberry grew to be much more than a hobby. That was when the products became available, the website went live, and I launched all of the social media platforms. At that time, my grades dropped significantly, because I never had time to do my homework or study. I went from being an almost straight-A student to receiving Bs and Cs. That was very difficult, because I had always expected so much from myself. But it was also one of the first times where I had to prioritize my time and say, “OK, this is what I want to be doing, and I cannot do everything well.” I chose to try really hard to do one thing really well. And I hope that will continue.
As of now, I am going to go to Middlebury College in Vermont (Cannot wait! I’m so excited.), but I am on a gap year to take some time to develop the business. As we continue to grow, I’m not sure how my full-time job will translate into the schedule of a college student, but I will take it step-by-step with an understanding that Yellowberry is my first priority.
What message do you hope Yellowberry will send to girls?
I hope that Yellowberry conveys an overall positive message to girls — a message that brings inspiration, confidence, happiness, and ambition. We work very hard to help our Berries (as we call our customers) cultivate a strong sense of self-confidence and empowerment, because those traits are so important in life!
Time magazine named you one of the most influential teens of 2014. How does that feel?
I’m not quite sure I have the right words to describe those feelings!
I was so incredibly humbled to be included on that list. I was even more excited that Yellowberry was recognized as something that is really having an impact. I think that it goes to show that the company has gained a lot of momentum. It is a movement. Every movement needs a leader, and that is my biggest role with this company as we move forward. I hope to use that “influence” through Yellowberry and continue to grow my business and spread this message: You don’t need to rush to grow up. Enjoy the present and celebrate being you, just as you are.
Do you have any advice for girls who are interested in starting their own businesses?
Do it. Do not let any excuses stop you, like waiting for the right time or the right education or even the perfect products. I have learned so, so much through Yellowberry, most of which I don’t think I could have learned in school. I have worked very hard to try to surround myself with smart advisors and team members. That has proven to be one of the most important elements of this so far.
I’ve also learned that there is so much more to learn. I am the first one to say, “I don’t know,” or, “Can you help me figure this out?” You’re not going to know it all. You should never be afraid to seek advice and support. Ask lots of questions. Accept criticism. Listen to what others say. Chances are they will say something that could help you in more ways than one.
Content last reviewed February 05, 2015
Page last updated February 05, 2015