What inspired you to launch Fruutfull?
Fruutfull was born out of my own frustration to find supportive bras and clothing. I found myself shying away from strapless or backless outfits because of the lack of support existing bra options provided. After years of accepting there would be styles I could never wear, I realized the size of a women’s bust shouldn’t dictate her ability to wear certain clothing. Determined to make more support-conscious garments, I purchased my first sewing machine, and after many hours of YouTube tutorials, I began teaching myself to sew. It became clear to me that women are in dire need of better bra options altogether. At Fruutfull, we’ve set out to create a new category of comfortable, functional and stylish bras that will broaden our outfit options, rather than limit them.
Why did you choose to start in Tampa?
Throughout the development process, I visited New York City, Miami, Austin, Seattle, Los Angeles, and although each city was wonderful in its own right, none of them felt like home. After every trip, I could not wait to get back to Tampa to detox with a long bike ride down Bayshore and a 1905 salad from Columbia Cafe. This city has inspired so much of the Fruutfull brand, and as a Tampa native I cannot think of a better way to give back to a place that has given me so much than to stay here and innovate.
What is it like being an entrepreneur in Tampa?
Exciting! There’s definitely a buzz around the city which is evident in the development that has happened in the last three years alone with the Hyde Park renovations, Riverwalk, Armature Works and now Sparkman Wharf. Coupled with the boom in development, the startup scene in Tampa is thriving. My business partner, Ellery, and I have been so humbled by the amazing people we have met in the last few months alone, and are excited to be a part of the innovation, support and collaboration within Tampa Bay’s entrepreneur ecosystem.
What effect does it have on a woman to find a perfectly fitting bra?
Bras are arguably the most important garment a woman owns. Because a bra is the first layer a woman puts on, it acts as the foundation to the rest of her outfit. Without a strong foundation, it is hard to feel like your most confident, amazing self. Yet 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra due to the confusing sizing system and overwhelming amount of bra size options currently available.
At Fruutfull, we believe bras should be the easiest part of your day. We are inspired by so many amazing women all around the world, and designed an undergarment that will inspire confidence, so she can tackle whatever comes her way. A bra should be an asset, not a burden, and we hope Fruutfull will be the bra women choose because of the support, reliability, efficiency it will provide.
How do you hope to make an impact in the community?
My passion for making a positive in our community is much bigger than the bra. I believe my purpose in life is to empower women and give back to others and I aspire to do both through Fruutfull. In 2014 I founded a nonprofit called ‘Bigger Than Ourselves’ committed to doing something bigger [than ourselves]. Once Fruutfull is established as a brand, I plan to pair the two and create a ‘Bigger Than the Bra’ initiative dedicated to giving back. Fruutfull will be based in Tampa Bay with the intent to strengthen and increase the density of retail opportunities in the area. We hope by staying in Tampa we can inspire others who are interested in the retail/apparel space and cultivate a strong fashion community.
How would you compare your business to name-brand lingerie companies, such as Victoria’s Secret?
I think the beauty of it is that I wouldn’t. I never set out to start a bra company. Fruutfull was born out of the idea to create supportive, comfortable undergarments that would broaden a woman’s outfit options because we couldn’t find what we needed from existing lingerie brands. A subtle theme across all categories of fashion is that as sizes go up, style begins to go down. Fruutfull was founded on the idea that style has no size, only limited size options, and through inclusivity, personalization and simplification we are excited to create an entirely new approach to bras and the bra industry.
In addition, bras are traditionally marketed in one of two ways: sexy and lustful or somber and dull. Fruutfull doesn’t identify with either. Our brand is bright, bold, cheeky and fun, creating a bra company that gives women a new sense of empowerment to feel sexy for ourselves because of our unique bodies, curves, and fruuts. One of my favorite quotes is ‘No one is you, and that is your power’, and we hope to instill that sense of empowerment in everything we do, encouraging everyone who interacts with the Fruutfull brand to embrace their differences and love their fruuts.
How do you see fashion evolving in the future? How do you see it changing in Tampa?
We are seeing a much needed emphasis on sustainability and transparency within the fashion space, and I don’t see that going away any time soon. Consumers are becoming more interested in knowing how and where products are being made and expecting a higher standard from brands they choose to buy from. This type of awareness will hold companies accountable for the entire lifecycle of their goods and is something Ellery and I feel so passionately about as we build our own brand.
In terms of fashion in Tampa, I would love to see our city develop its own fashion identity. There is such a diverse, vibrant community here, and we hope that Fruutfull can help to establish Tampa as a unique fashion destination.
What feature of Tampa makes you proud to say that you live in the city?
It’s easy to see that Tampa is a beautiful place to live – there’s no doubt about that. But what I have grown to appreciate most are the people within our community that recognized how special our city is, prior to bringing to life their ideas that made it so. I am so thankful for those passionate about this city and dedicated to building a greater Tampa Bay for us all. In particular, the Hyde Park renovations, development of Armature Works, Sparkman Wharf, any (and all) concepts from the Ciccio Restaurant Group or the Gonzmart family, and all things Jeff Vinik — are what makes me so passionate about sharing my passion first and foremost, with those throughout Tampa Bay. With Fruutfull, I hope to not only encourage others to follow their passions, but to share them with all of us and the city we are so blessed to call home.