Welcome to Saturday Business chat.Today we’re talking to Cha Haxell of Large Cup Lingerie. I think all women have probably suffered when buying bras at some time or another, but the larger sizes in particular can be very problematic, with all sorts of attitudes being experienced in high street shops (I saw a discussion about this on Facebook just the other day), so Cha is filling a very important gap in the market indeed!
Cha is another person who started off working part time while building her business, and I really can’t recommend this path enough as a hard, but much more reassuring and safe feeling, way of launching a business. It’s interesting that coming from a family where people run their own businesses has given Cha the background she needed to understand what to do and how to do it, and that does seem to be a real advantage and confidence booster. On the other hand, I and many of my other interviewees have come from a more traditional employment-related background, so it takes all sorts!
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is called Large Cup Lingerie and I set it up in April 2010. As the name would suggest, we’re an online retailer of lingerie and bra sized swimwear for the fuller busted lady.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I actually set up my business almost by accident. I was having a clear out of items I’d purchased and never worn that still had their tags on, and was going to give them to my friends. They said that they would actually be willing to pay more for them than I had as they were “unusual” sizes and quite hard to get hold of. That gave me the idea that I could turn it into a business venture and the rest, as they say, is history! I had originally intended to enter post-graduate study, but the business has taken over now. I don’t mind though, because I love the control and flexibility that running my own business gives me.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I had a really negative experience in a well known department store when bra shopping for myself and this made me realise there was a lot of room for improvement within the industry. I was told that if I wanted a 30 back size bra I should try the children’s department! The impact that a comment like that can have on someone’s confidence is so detrimental; I wanted to make sure the other women with smaller back sizes had someone to purchase their bras from and wouldn’t have to suffer the embarrassment that I had. Luckily now, there is much better bra knowledge available, thank goodness!
Had you run your own business before?
No, I hadn’t. Although I had done lots of freelance work, so I knew that I could motivate myself and manage my time effectively.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
Whilst I was still setting the business up I worked part time, but as soon as the website launched that was a full-time commitment.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
I don’t think there is anything I wish I knew before I started. My father runs his own business, so I grew up knowing that it would take long hours and a lot of commitment.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
That all the hard work is most definitely worth it.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
I wish I’d have been more insistent about the design and functionality of my website as I had to completely redevelop it after a year.
What are you glad you did?
I’m really glad that I got involved with social media. I’ve met some great contacts and friends through Twitter and Facebook and the lingerie blogging community is absolutely phenomenal.
What’s your top business tip?
Network as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to ask your friends if they can recommend products and services to you. From web designers to service providers it’s really great if you can get a recommendation as it takes some of the risk out of blindly searching. Plus, if they are close friends you might even get a discount!
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
It has grown tremendously since we started and we’re still expanding. We’ve added lots more brands and we’ve got some more lined up too. It’s all very exciting.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
In a year’s time we’ll have an even more diverse range of swimwear and lingerie brands! We offer free international delivery, so hopefully we’ll have more regular international customers too.
Websites seem to often be problematic, and so many people talk about the value of networking – if you haven’t tried it, give it a go. I do like the idea of this lingerie blogging community, not something I’ve encountered in my daily life, but it just shows that there’s likely to be an online community for everyone. It’s lovely to see people so positive and enjoying their work and Large Cup Lingerie is a great niche idea – I look forward to hearing about those bras going all over the world this time next year!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more freelancer chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured.