by Julie Pennell, Teen Vogue
Photo: Courtesy of American Eagle
Buying your first bra can be such an awkward experience, but one teen is hoping to change that. Megan Grassell, 19, is the founder of Yellowberry, a cute and comfy line of bras made especially for tweens.
Megan got the idea for the company a few years ago when she took her 13-year-old sister shopping. It reminded her of her own experience: “I remember being in a department store and feeling so awkward when a woman measured me and then just sent me into a dressing room with a box of bras,” she recalls. “I was so uncomfortable. It wasn’t until I watched the same thing happen to my sister that [I knew] I wasn’t the only girl who experienced that.”
What happened next is nothing short of inspiring. Megan decided she should be the one to create the kind of bras and shopping experience she and her younger sister wanted. “I didn’t know how to sew, start a business, or make a bra…I knew absolutely nothing. But this idea was something I couldn’t stop thinking about,” she says.
So, she picked out some fabrics, took them to a local seamstress, and created her first prototypes. With the help of Google, she found some small manufacturers in LA and produced two styles in two colors. In January 2014, she began selling them on her website.
A few months later, she ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise more money for the company, and reached her $25,000 goal within weeks. “When that really took off and went viral, overnight Yellowberry went from an idea that only I believed in to something that suddenly many people believed in,” she says.
And who wouldn’t believe in it? The company is all about girl power and positivity. Each tag even has a very special message written on it. “When my sister Caroline died [at age five], her godparents wrote a list of ten phrases that were the epitome of her,” Megan explains. “When I was in the beginning stages of building the Yellowberry brand, I looked at those phrases and realized that, yes, they explained Caroline perfectly, but many of them also reached a larger audience of young girls in general.” So, with every bra you purchase, you’ll see a meaningful mantra with a sweet reminder of youth, such as, “Go barefoot,” “Seek and find a hug when you need one,” and “Campfires are rare, so eat as many marshmallows as you can.”
"It creates a lifestyle of enjoying this time," Megan says. "I think that is what makes Yellowberry a special brand. I created the company to fix an issue that I identified in the market. That issue is something that every girl can relate to."
Of course, starting your own business in high school is never easy, but the process only made Megan stronger. “I think that the biggest challenge when I started was that I was so young that no one took me or my idea seriously,” she says. “To move forward with something having no support system was very challenging. But I remained very focused in what I wanted to do, and I made it happen!”
Megan’s advice to other teens who want to start their own business is simple: Stay true to your vision and listen to your gut. “It’s scary to start, but it’s incredible to be able to look back and say, ‘Yeah, I did that. Look at where I am now!’”
And look where she is: The Aerie for Yellowberry collection will launch on Aerie.com this week. “I’m so excited,” Megan says, adding that when she was first contacted by the company, it was a totally surreal moment.
As for the future of Yellowberry, Megan has big plans. “My vision for Yellowberry is to be the place where any girl goes to buy not only her first bras, but remains with the company until she is ready to move on. I honestly think that 15 years from now Yellowberry could be something so much bigger than I ever imagined. I’m going to see where that takes me.”
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