Kristina Loggia for Yellowberry
The lingerie industry is disproportionately propped up by two annual sales-driven holidays — Christmas and Valentine’s Day — but Mother’s Day is where its heart lies.
It’s no stretch to say that behind every professional in the lingerie business there’s a mother who made it all possible — tireless cheerleaders who helped shape their children’s fashion sense, taught them to sew, encouraged their career aspirations and, in many cases, paid for all the schooling and professional development that kickstarted their futures.
(If you subscribe to any of the e-mail newsletters sent out by lingerie brands, you were probably moved by all the deeply personal tributes that poured into your inbox yesterday.)
Now, one innovative young brand is harnessing the tremendous influence and authority of moms for some valuable business advice and guidance.
Yellowberry, the youth label started by a high school senior in 2014, created an advisory council last year called Yellowberry Moms to help the company manage its explosive growth and stay connected to its core market of pre-teen girls.
The idea grew out of a social media phenomenon that helped put Yellowberry on the fashion map in the first place: when news about the unique tween brand started to spread in 2014, the company was swamped with enthusiastic comments from parents who cheered its age-appropriate, non-sexual underwear designs for young girls. Since then, glowing emotional testimonials from mothers have become a common — and quite unique — feature on Yellowberry‘s website and social media feeds.
To tap into all that goodwill, Yellowberry last year pitched the idea of a mothers’ advisory group in an e-mail to its followers and “got hundreds of applications in the first hour,” founder Megan Grassell told Lingerie Talk.
“We were so overwhelmed by all the people who wanted to be a part of it,” Megan said. “Moms are a huge part of our brand. Because our brand story is so strong, they wanted to support it. And we thought, ‘How can we really tap into that? How can we bounce ideas off them?'”
The Yellowberry Moms, who now number in the thousands, are consulted on upcoming product ideas and are encouraged to share stories of their girls’ lives with others in the Yellowberry network.
Moms join the group via an online application and are consulted with group surveys. Megan explains how the process works:
“Earlier this week we were making some decisions about a few new products, but we were not really sure what our customers would like best. Our opinions varied throughout the office, and we realized that even if we liked product A better than product B, that didn’t really matter because we aren’t the customers.
“So we sent an email to our mom council, addressing these specific products and what their daughters would like best. Then we were able to make a strong and informed decision moving forward, knowing that we were building products our customers wanted.
“It’s the best feedback and advice we can have, in my opinion, and it’s been really helpful so far,” she added. “They just want what is best for their daughters, and share those thoughts with us.”
Yellowberry Moms is part focus group and part marketing initiative, since its members are usually the first to learn of new collections, campaigns, pop-up shops and Megan’s frequent speaking engagements as an advocate for empowering girls.
And all that advice has proved vital for a fast-moving startup whose product catalogue now includes more than a dozen bra styles, several underwear styles, socks, a loungewear line and accessories. Yellowberry is also preparing to launch its first swimwear collection for girls this summer with a Kickstarter campaign.
The influence of Yellowberry‘s army of moms can also be seen in its first video campaign, a 12-part series called #MyFirstBra in which women discuss their often-horrible early experiences shopping for bras. The company posts a new video each week on its website and Youtube channel, and encourages it followers to share their own first-bra tales as well.
“We receive so many first-bra stories from our customers, for me it’s about really starting the conversation,” Megan said. “Every woman has that experience and almost every time it’s not a good one. So I want to show why Yellowberry is not only a great brand with quality products, but prove why we are needed for girls!”
Yellowberry famously got its start when Megan took her younger sister shopping for her first bra in a mall and was appalled by the sexualized styles being sold as training bras to young girls. After launching Yellowberry, she was named one of the world’s 25 most influential teens by Time magazine and earlier this year was named to Forbes magazine’s top 30-under-30 list of young entrepreneurs.
Megan, now 20, recently relocated to New York City after starting Yellowberry in her family home near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Last month, Megan was named Wyoming’s 2016 Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.