Let me start this by saying I have never been a fan of bras. My high school friends still give me shit about how I would refuse to wear anything but strapless bandeau bras. A girl needs a little support, but AT WHAT COST?! I had only ever found bras to be irritating and uncomfortable so I never put much thought into it.
That was until I tried Underbares. And I am not exaggerating when I say it’s pretty much the only bra I wear now. The pared-back bra is super comfortable, light-weight while still giving the ladies a lift. It’s also a BEAUTIFUL bra, which is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when you think comfort. It’s the perfect middle ground between “functional bras” and sexy push-ups. The colors range from white to black, with an impressive selection of 4 different shades of “bare,” depending on your skin tone.
Just when I thought I couldn’t love a brand more, I got to the founder, Genevieve Gralton. WHAT A GEM. Not only is she the nicest human you’ll ever meet, but she is also kick-ass. She left her 9-5 at Merrill Lynch and went all in with Underbares just a few years ago and now has the label of “This Might Be the Most Comfortable Bra You Will Ever Wear” from Vogue. I could go on and on, but why not let her tell her story?! Super grateful that Genevieve let me pick her brain about Underbares, running a business, and what’s next for the growing brand.
Q & A with Underbares Founder, Genevieve Gralton
How did you come up with the concept for Underbares?
After long days at work, all I wanted to do when I came home was tear off my bra. I could not find a lingerie or underwear brand that resonated with me, or that I felt comfortable wearing. It’s a landscape of extremes: over-sexualized push-up, lacy undergarments or functional “nude” bras (that are not in fact nude for most) that are not particularly pretty or comfortable (these bras are still made with painful wires). I was over the wires, sick of the thick padding and lining, and didn’t understand why strap adjusters exist. Straps always slip and fall off my shoulders. It was impossible to find the perfect bra—one that didn’t sacrifice style for comfort or comfort for style. It all felt too polarizing.
I thought there has to be a middle ground—a brand that understands we just want to feel both comfortable and beautiful in our own skin, and we want an undergarment that compliments that sentiment. Out of frustration, I decided I would try to build this brand since I couldn’t find it anywhere.
I believe that women have the right to feel comfortable (revolutionary, right?), and my mission is to bridge that gap between sexy and comfy and actually put the wearer first.
What inspired you to ‘take the leap’ and go all-in with Underbares?
In order to start Underbares, my initial instinct was to get feedback and do market research. Before I knew it, I was sending girlfriends surveys and soft measuring tape (thank you, Amazon Prime!), asking them to answer questions ranging from their undergarment purchasing habits to if they know how to accurately measure their cup size.
I started defining the brand and sketching the bra I imagined based on this input. I was constantly thinking about what would provide women with support without being bulky. Once the sketch was in a good place, I started cold calling and emailing pattern makers and manufacturers in the US.
In order to fund Underbares, I poured my savings into it and worked on it during all of my free time. This provided its challenges as I was in prototype development and was traveling on weekends to meet with pattern makers and manufacturers up and down the east coast. One year and many prototypes and graded samples later, I had created The Everyday Bra. Throughout each step of the process, I welcomed the women in my life to analyze the product and whether it aligned with our vision. Their feedback and excitement, coupled with my belief that we deserve better options, drove me to launch Underbares.
What’s one of the biggest challenges you faced in your first year?
Finding a reliable manufacturing partner who we can grow with!
How do you handle the stress of running your own business?
I wish I handled it better. I try to take care of myself – get some sleep, eat healthy meals, go for walks to clear my head, exercise – and I rely on my fiancé, family, and friends a lot too when I am feeling overwhelmed. Their wisdom and support means the world to me and truly keep me calm.
What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you?
My mom sent me the following quote one day before a challenging meeting, and since then it has stuck with me: “You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.” – Warren Buffet
What are you most excited for / what is next for Underbares?
I continue to be excited to hear from our Underbares women about how they are styling their Underbares and how Underbares has made their life easier and comfier. I am so excited for our first pair of briefs to reach more women, and I cannot wait for some of the amazing group of women who follow our brand to try and test our new bra design late this summer.
I remain passionate about our mission to put the wearer first by creating ethically manufactured essentials that are pared-down, chic, feminine, comfortable, and functional. We will continue to challenge the status quo of the lingerie industry and work with women to understand what they want to see in their top drawer next.