Since Pittsburgh is known for its bridges, it’s fitting that a bra based on engineering principles found in bridge design would be invented by a team of women at Carnegie Mellon University.
Sophia Berman and Laura West founded Trusst Lingerie with a simple mission: to make bras more comfortable for larger-busted women. An AlphaLab Gear startup company, Trusst raised $78,000 in a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, well above their $25,000 goal. And they’ve just started taking pre-orders for their bras, which should ship to customers in the early spring, Berman says. Those customers cover a wide range of ages, she adds.
“At first we thought we’d be catering to younger women who were hyper-focused on fashion,” Berman says. “But older women often have a need for better support from their bras. So our customer base really includes any large-busted woman.”
Most bras use a shoulder strap design with underwire in the cup, hoisting the wearer’s breasts up from the top, putting the weight on shoulders and backs. For larger, heavier breasts, that’s often not enough support, Berman says. So the team decided to adapt the architechtural principle of a truss, a triangle shape that supports a structure like a bridge from underneath.
Trusst’s three bras are named for the founders’ mothers: the Marjory, the Suzanne and the Jessica, and were designed and refined using 3-D printing.
Since their Kickstarter closed, Trusst has grown from a team of three to a team of six women, adding to its marketing and research and development. They’ve spent a lot of time refining the designs, and have begun using some proprietary materials to make the bras as comfortable as possible, Berman says.
And the team at Trusst has kept a sense of humor while getting the word out about their product. Part of their message has been to educate men about the value of a comfortable bra, so they shot a video of men trying on conventional bras and quickly realizing how problematic they were for larger breasts. Trusst’s latest video features a day in the life of a character called “Melon Man,” who finds wearing a bra with melons in it uncomfortable and inconvenient.
Berman says Trusst is on track to ship its first preorders close to their original target of February 2016. She says the team benefited greatly from being incubated at AlphaLab Gear, where they’ll continue to operate until next year “or until they kick us out,” Berman jokes.
She adds that she would like to see even more female-centric products come out of AlphaLab Gear companies. “I think you have to seek strong women and mentorship,” Berman says. “You’re going to get a million no’s just like any other company. You just have to keep working toward that ‘yes.'”