July Qualification Grant Awarded to Pepper
Last week, we revealed our July Amber Grant finalists. Now, we’re delighted to introduce you to the winning ladies behind the brand — Jaclyn Fu and Lia Winograd, Founders of Pepper. Their company makes better fitting clothes for small-chested women — with an early focus on bras.
Read our interview below to learn about their early experiences in business — and gain some helpful PR tips for promotion…
How did you come up with the name Pepper?
Lia and I spent weeks trying to come up with a name. Over lunch, we started
throwing out random words based on what was in our immediate vicinity.
Potential names in this discussion included Sandwich, Spork, Napkin, Table,
Salt… and then ‘Pepper’.
We both looked at each other and knew it was the one. Pepper sounded
feminine, playful and distinct from every other lingerie company brand. It
had a strong ‘P’ sound which aligned nicely with ‘petite’. We also loved
that peppercorns were round and small, but also packed a lot of punch!
How many pre-orders have you received since you started?
We launched our first design, the All-You Bra, on Kickstarter in April 2017
with the initial goal of meeting minimum production requirements of
$10,000. We raised that in just 10 hours, and in 13 days we were 470%
funded with over 950 backers. We quickly opened up an online pre-order
store after and sold 400 additional bras since then, reaching $65,000 in
pre-order sales in just three months!
To what do you credit the exposure you’ve gotten in some major media
outlets in such a short time? (Pepper has been featured in Allure, The Huffington Post, and other prominent outlets.)
A willingness to roll up the sleeves and do the dirty work. We didn’t have
the money to hire a PR agency, so we had to figure it out ourselves. It
required A LOT of hours putting together our PR hit list 2 months before
launch, and doing the research on contact information, relevancy and
possible angles. We also spent a lot of time refining our press release and
personalizing the outreach emails for each contact. I would recommend
starting the conversation with your PR contacts a few weeks before your
launch so that they can line up their coverage right with your launch date.
And if people don’t respond to your emails, change up the copy and subject
line and email them again!
If helpful for others, I also wrote down some of the steps and lessons we learned from our first PR efforts on my blog.
Are you going to patent your new cup mold?
It’s something we evaluated, but due to the time and money involved, we
want to focus on fulfilling our current pre-orders first and getting
customer feedback on how these cups are received.
Having an awesome product is important to the Pepper experience, but how we
really want to differentiate and defend our brand is to cultivate authentic
relationships with our customers that can’t be replicated. This is why if
we receive the $1000 Amber Grant, we plan on investing it towards a
customer reviews platform that will allow us to capture reviews, share them
on our website, and create trust and transparency with our customers.
We created Pepper to make meaningful impact in our customers’ lives and
their view on body image. Bras are the first step, but we also plan on
expanding into swim, athletic wear, and other clothing that will help a
small-chested woman feel awesome. Patents could be in our future!
Do you plan to sell your clothing exclusively online?
For the time being, Pepper will be a direct-to-consumer online business.
Our goals for the next few years are to build up the brand, optimize our
supply chain efficiencies, and refine our product designs before we expand
into retail distribution.
To leverage in-person shopping, we plan on creating pop-up experiences by
partnering with other vendors and using them as community events. We see
these events as a fun way to test in-person retail and to connect with our