Each time I speak with someone new, I learn something.
Elyse Kaye has spent her career leading innovation and marketing teams launching dozens of brands and hundreds of product lines. Recent successes include the turnaround of the Four Paws® Brand for Central Garden & Pet, the launch from ground up of the House of Marley Brand from Homedics and the expansion of licensed brands for Black & Decker. She is the Founder and CEO of Bloom Bras as well as Aha Product Solutions. Look for Bloom Bras – a line of activewear for the well-endowed woman – to hit the market Fall 2016. Her philosophy is that innovation can and should come from anywhere. She holds several dozen patents. Elyse was also a contributing author in The Product Manager’s Handbook. In her freetime, she is a certified fitness teacher and enthusiast.
Where did the idea for Bloom Bras come from?
I wrote the business plan for Bloom Bras 17 years ago after being frustrated with the lack of options for sports bras on the market today especially for well-endowed women like myself. The average bra size has risen from a 34B to a 34 D in 20 years time. The design and materials used in a sports bra have not evolved. A woman’s body fluctuates about 10% throughout the month. For a B cup, that is not a big deal but for a DDD, that is a full cup size! I began looking for inspiration outside of the athletic world and turned to shipping, aerospace and peripheral industries for inspiration. I wanted a product that would be supportive, adjustable, breathable, free from armful underwire and looked good.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Each day differs depending on the needs of projects. Between social media, spending time with customers and working with the factory, I start each day with a plan of what needs to be accomplished and build from there. It is easy to get sucked into non-value added distractions otherwise.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I immerse myself into the mind of the consumer, customer and manufacturer. There are so many great ideas that are lost due to poor execution. My career has been spent bringing ideas from a piece of paper through into production. If there is any advice I can give, it is be empathetic to those three areas because they are your barriers to entry.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
What advice would you give your younger self?
Talk to everyone and keep in communication. When I was coming up in the business world, we did not have access to things like LinkedIn and active networking online platforms. I recently pulled out my old Rolodex (yea I am dating myself) and found those people online. I wish I had been a better pen pal through the years.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
Some of the best business plans were written over cocktails in the wee hours. It inspires team building, collaboration and bringing guards down. I do not advocate this as a method for running a business but it has worked out on a few occasions.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Talk about the company to anyone who will listen. Each time I speak with someone new, I learn something.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Understanding pain points and curating your story to match. Bloom Bras is very heavily featured with adjustable straps, cinching cups, a shelf that lifts vs. squishes, no underwire, a mesh back, hardware in the front. But most women react to the fact that it is a sexy sports bra. My story will change depending on audience which keeps us relevant.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Failure is all about learning. I have had many products fail in development as well as at market. Most products will not make it so knowing those odds from day 1, you plan for contingency. And you cannot fall in love with your idea. The first few times, it stings and you beat yourself up but then you put on a smile and go back to the drawing board.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If someone could create a better tool for capturing content, it would change the world.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Facebook Ads are cheap and very effective for brand building. We had over 240K people come through our FB page in just a few weeks time without spending a lot of money, I would also say that investing in products that make you feel better also is a wise use of funds.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I am really into HubSpot for content and contact management.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Lean Start-Up is a quick read which in a lot of ways states the obvious for bringing an idea to life. I found that it was good validation for me as I was taking on this new idea.
What is your favorite quote?
“Sleep when you die”
Elyse Kaye on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elyse-kaye-1862284
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.