Sara Moylan is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of SHEFIT, a line of sports bras that are customizable with adjustable fit & support for cups A-I. It became a top pick sports bra by Runner’s World for several years now.. SHEFIT has likewise been named a Top 100 quickest developing organization by Inc. 500 and a main business by Entrepreneur Magazine's E 360 rundown.
Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual process of SHEFIT?
When I created the first SHEFIT bra, I never had any intention of starting a business. It was really about trying to solve a personal problem. I had just had a baby and I was struggling to find a sports bra that provided enough support. I was literally doubling, sometimes tripling up on bras to get the support I needed, and it still wasn’t enough. So, I took matters into my own hands and went to work with an old maternity bra and a glue gun.
I created an adjustable rib brand so I could get the fit and support I needed and straps for extra lift. It was the prototype for what would become the Ultimate Sports Bra. The first bra with patented Zip. Cinch. Lift®. adjustability and 2-way gravity defying stretch fabric and the start of a company that delivers sports bras and activewear that fit and support all women regardless of shape, size, age or physical ability. Since then, it’s become so much more than a product, it’s become a mission to remind women and girls what they’re capable of when their bodies work for them, not against them. To empower them with the fit and support they deserve.
How did you get your first three customers?
My first three customers were just women who saw my bra and how it worked. You know, seeing is believing and from there it was all word of mouth. We saw how excited people were about this bra. How it had the potential to change women’s lives. Giving them back control of their bodies. Enabling to achieve what they were capable of. So, me and my husband Bob started selling our bras out of our basement until we had enough momentum to quit our jobs and focus 100% on SHEFIT. It’s been a lot of work, and we’ve had to take incredible risks and make sacrifices to get where we are today, but it’s all been worth it. All I need to do is read our customer reviews and know that what we are doing matters. We are changing lives.
How did you validate the idea?
I guess you could say I was a focus group of one. As a past collegiate athlete and a body building and fitness competitor I know what I needed to reach my goals. Working out is important to me. It’s how I stay motivated and centered. I put it through the paces of high intensity workouts, weights, and everything in between. I knew it needed to adjust to fit my body, hold my girls in place whether I was running or jumping and be comfortable. Today, my idea is validated by every woman that buys it and raves about it. For so many women we are the difference between wanting to be active and truly being active. Women tell us they never thought they could run again if it wasn’t for our bra. So many of them have tried sports bra after sports bra and given up. They think that they have to settle for good enough. When they try our bra on and give it a go, they are truly amazed. This pushes me to keep doing whatever it takes to make sure that every woman and girl has a bra that fits and supports her the way that it should. Our bodies should be our greatest asset not a source of frustration or pain and our sports bras make this possible
Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?
The only experience I had was the drive and determination to not give up. To refuse to settle It’s what got me here today. I didn’t know how to sew. I didn’t know how to design. I just knew what I wanted, and I knew how to sell. Bob and I have gotten to where we are today through hard work and by surrounding ourselves with people that are passionate and talented and committed to our mission.
I’ve been lucky to have friends that have helped us build the business from day one that are still with me and incredibly talented people how have joined us over the years.
Have you raised any money? How much?
From day one, we’ve bootstrapped the entire thing and still do today. We’ve build this with no outside investments from micro bank loans to cashing out our 401Ks and maxing out many credit cards.
Who is your target demographic?
We like to say that we are performance gear for kickass women who refuse to settle. That’s because our consumer is not an age or a body type. She is a mindset. Someone that believes in fit: knowing that when you are strong and healthy there are no limits to what you can do. She surrounds herself with products and people that fit and support her body and her goals. Keeping her motivated and moving. She refuses to settle for anything less than her best and our bras and activewear support her every step of the way.
What is the funniest/most strange customer request you’ve had?
I’m not sure that this is really a strangest request or just the nature of my business. Some might find it odd that when I was first starting I would use my personal cell phone and Facetime customers to see how their bra was fitting or have them send me pictures on Facebook Messenger. To this day it is not out of the ordinary to for me to get random text or calls from customers asking for me to place orders for them.
How did you fund the idea initially?
In 2016, we got our big break with an appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” This gave us the awareness we needed, helping us grow about 300 percent each year — or more than 3,400 percent between August 2016 and August 2019. We have grown into a multi-million-dollar company in just six short years with no outside funding or support.
We have been recognized as the sports bra “on track to compete with Under Armour, and Nike” by WWD, was awarded the Best High Impact Sports Bra by SELF Magazine and a Runner’s World top pick three years in a row. The company has been named a Top 100 fastest-growing company by Inc. 500 and a leading business by Entrepreneur Magazine’s E 360 list.
Where did you meet your cofounder/founding team?
My husband is my co-founder. We met in college. We were married with one daughter when I started working on the first SHEFIT bra. He has been my rock every step of the way.
Any tips for finding first employees?
At first we had no employees and my husband and I did it all after our daily 9-5 while raising our 4 girls.
When we started hiring we looked for people that fit the needs of the business at the time. Some were able to grow with us and still work for us today and some we outgrew. I would say to look for people who believe in you and your mission as a startup.
Did you run any companies prior?
Before SHEFIT I had never run another company. I had a successful career working in pharmaceutical sales that afforded me fantastic opportunities to learn how to sell a product, and also to market myself as a trustworthy expert source. The skills I learned in that job absolutely set me up for success as a new entrepreneur. It helped to see the word “no” as an opportunity rather than a loss.
What motivated you to start your own business?
Two things: 1) The people who loved my bra. I knew that I could make a difference in the lives of so many women and 2) The word, “no” We heard no from so many people. People that told me I couldn’t do this. It wouldn’t work. It made me want to do this that much more. I love to prove people wrong. To defy expectations.
What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?
My husband has always supported me and plays a huge role as the CEO to this day. Our families have always be positive influences, encouraging me to work hard for whatever I believe in, SHEFIT is no different. A lot of people told us this would never work, family has always been there to listen and give words of encouragement.
What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?
Things going wrong can be demoralizing for anyone, but as a college athlete I learned that there’s really no such things as failure. I made the conscious effort to look at a situation and ask, “How is this an opportunity? How will this help SHEFIT improve in the long run?”.
We are a company that was built as a solution to a problem, so we’ve gotten very good at finding solutions where others don’t. Our end goal is to help women everywhere embrace their bodies and feel supported, and seeing us achieve that goal every day through customer reviews and posts on our customer Facebook page are all the motivation the SHEFIT team needs to keep going.
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?
Advice for someone just starting out: Never take no for an answer, surround yourself with loyal, genuine people. There will be a lot of people who become jealous and want to discourage you. Don’t listen to the haters.
What has driven the most sales?
As a DTC brand, SHEFIT is sold only via our website, so social media has always been an important sales tool for us. TikTok has been especially wonderful for us recently. We’ve had videos featuring our bras go viral with over 4 million likes and 21,000 comments - and that’s just one example!
What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?
The only thing that’s stopping us from being 3x the size we are now is strategy. Over the last four years we’ve achieved 100% profitability and consistent triple-digit growth. We have zero venture backing and zero C-suite teams.
Our bras are not sold via Amazon or anywhere else because we are passionate about ensuring the quality and handling of all of our products. Even with us maintaining those controls over our brand standards, SHEFIT has been named Top 100 fastest-growing company by Inc. 500 and a leading business by Entrepreneur Magazine’s E 360 list.
How do you protect yourself from competition?
Protecting from competition is not the challenge, its protecting ourselves and more importantly our customers from imposters. Any legitimate competitor knows that we have a paten on our technology. We can’t stop them from trying to replicate us, so we have to be at the top of our game and constantly innovate to be the best. It is staying on top of those companies that are violating our patens and our trademarks that are the challenge. We have some services that we use to help us manage this, but we also have a team that will report them and press legal action if necessary. There are people out there that will take our assets and try to sell products to customers as us. Its really frustrating to hear a customer disappointed in our product, but even more because they didn’t buy from us.
Do you have any trademarks/IP/patents?
We do have a patent on our Zip. Cinch. Lift®. Adjustability feature. Our Ultimate Sports Bra® is a registered trademark with legal binding and our Flex Sports Bra™ is trademarked along with our Boss Leggings™.
What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without? Why are they essential?
Our Shop host Shopify. It is essential because it manages our sales and our inventory.
What are the next products you’re working on?
I am not going to tell you in detail, but I will tell you my goal is to own the bra drawer. I want all things that go on your boobs to be SHEFIT.
Are there any releases you can tell us about?
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