Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Tomima Edmark is one savvy businesswoman. Remember the Topsy Tail? Yeah, she invented it. And then she possibly did ladies the world over one better by creating her online lingerie enclave, Her Room, in 2000.
A couple of years ago, Edmark launched her "Know Your Breasts" finder, a survey on Her Room that does just that, asking questions about your "friends," and then, at the end, making suggestions about types of bras that might work best for you. We decided it was high time to catch up with the innovative woman to see what else was happening in her ridiculously brilliant neck of the woods.
So, what's new with Her Room?
Lots! We now have a Wish List feature so women can save their choices or put items they are thinking about aside while they check out. We are also rolling out "My Brands." In the next four weeks this will be live. It allows a customer to select the brands they like, then have "my brands" in our navigation so they will only see those. April is "Get out the vote" for our Annual Undie Awards. This will be our eighth year. We give a 10 percent discount to anyone who votes without exclusions. I have my "Know Your Breasts" Bra finder, which over 350,000 women have now [taken]. We get great feedback on this. And of course we have the Universal Cup Sizing feature for women who are larger than a D cup. It makes finding their size and discovering how much more they have to choose from a real win.
What's the Universal Cup Sizing feature all about?
Manufacturers can call a cup size up to three different letters for the same size. This is because there is a U.K., European and U.S. cup size naming convention. So, a DDD in the U.S. can be called an E or F in other brands. This is crazy-confusing for women above a D cup. So, we make it easy. In our size drop-down, you can find your correct size without having to figure out what convention the vendor is using. In the above example, you are a D3. So, just look for, say 34 (D3), in our drop down, or search on 34D3 on our site and all your options appear, instead of just those that name your cup say a DDD.
Since you launched your Know Your Breasts finder a few years ago what has been the reaction?
Very very positive. We get these long emails from women thanking us for explaining why certain bras don't work and others do. That they are not alone, that they now know what to look for, etc. There is only one consistent complaint that we get. Some women want to go through this finder, and at the end, they want us to give them their perfect bra. This was never my goal. I made this finder to educate women on their breasts. I don't just want to sell them a bra. A smart consumer is a great customer. I now see emails into our call center where women are using the lingo "I have wide-set pendulous breasts." And there is always more than one bra choice for women. I liken it to going through a finder for a life-partner, I serve up the guy that meets all the criteria, and there is a very low probability you want him. This is why I take this one criticism. I would rather educate and help women, than just throw one possible solution at them.
Any new surveys, charts, etc. that you will be introducing?
Yes. Over the last five years, I have had hundreds of women come in for bra fittings. We have meticulously photographed all of them in their correct size as well as their wrong size. I now have this great database of women in the same bras but the wrong sizes. I plan to turn this into another feature on the site. You look at a group of women in say a 34D bra. Most are in the wrong size, but some are in the right size. You can then click on the images and we tell you if the size is correct or wrong. If wrong, we tell you why, and show you the same woman but this time in the correct size. I'm hoping this will not only be fun, but also help women find their correct size too. At the very least, a woman wearing a 34D bra can now see what a woman who is truly a 34D looks like. If she is much bigger-breasted, she will know to look at larger-cup sized women in this finder till she sees a woman more her size. My hope is to have this feature complete by May.
It seems like the market it getting more crowded with companies that do what you do. How do you stay competitive?
I agree it is kind of a commodity business. So, I compete in traditional ways—customer service, great delivery, value pricing. But then I do things that others don't do. [For example,] our descriptions are hands-down the best on the Internet. Our images are too. And, our bra-fitting help and advice exceeds everyone.
Do styles in bras trend at all? If so, what are some popular things that you see people order come spring/summer?
Yes and no. It's hard to innovate in styles. It's more about the fabrics getting better. So, plunge bras are growing, bras that address back fat and bulges. There is a recent push to address the "armpit bulge" but really this can be solved many times by just going up a cup size, or putting your bra on correctly thus moving your breast tissue into the cups more. Breathable fabrics and foam in the cups are also a big trend.
Any bras that you would recommend for Dallas ladies who have to endure 100-degree weather?
Yes. A breathable bra. They don't need to be cotton. There are great fabrics and foams that breathe, particularly spacer foam.
Is that what's new in bra technology?
Yes, spacer foam, breathable fabrics, soft microfiber fabrics and stretch lace.
Finally, what's your take on the bralette?
It's comfortable works for women with a breast size D or smaller. I would not recommend it for everyday wear.