Online Lingerie Operation Starts Up in Denver
A conversation with the co-founder and CEO of Pepper, Jaclyn Fu
FOUNDED: 2017 | HQ: Denver
Filling out a market need, Jaclyn Fu, 28, was inspired to launch Pepper – a new bra company targeting small-chested women – while getting dressed one day in 2017. Fu is a graduate of University of California-Berkeley and moved to Denver 18 months ago. She previously worked in product marketing for companies like Mozilla Corp., Etsy and Grouper.
WHAT MADE YOU THINK ABOUT THIS PRODUCT?
“When things don’t fit, you feel less than,” Fu says. “The whole premise of our line is around body positivity. Bras sold in department stores aren’t typically designed for smaller chests."
WHAT MAKES PEPPER DIFFERENT?
"Our design uses shorter underwire, demi cups and a mesh overlay. We call it the ‘all-you bra.’ Pepper sells AA, A and B cups in band sizes 32 through 38. We think that’s representative of 61 percent of the population, and is a $4 billion underserved market in the U.S. There’s definitely an appetite out there.
"We hired a freelance bra designer who manufacturers in Colombia" (where co-founder Lia Winegrad’s family is from).
HOW DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WERE ON TO SOMETHING?
"Within 10 hours of launching our product on Kickstarter last April, we reached our $10,000 goal. We received nearly $50,000 from 950 backers, and we’ve since sold an additional $19,000 on the website. To date, Pepper has sold nearly 2,000 bras at about $40 each. Our profit margin is around 71 percent."
WHERE IS HQ?
"I run the business from home, and we rent warehouse space. I’ve also got an office in WeWork Union Station, because we were recognized as a finalist for the 2017 WeWork Creator Awards."
WHAT’S THE BENEFIT OF BASING YOUR BUSINESS IN COLORADO?
"It’s much more affordable than New York, where I was before. It’s helping us last longer bootstrapping. I’ve been funding the business with savings and cash flow from sales. I’ll be looking for outside investment later this year."
ANY ADVICE TO OTHER STARTUPS?
"Done is better than perfect."