Feminism takes on many different aspects, and for Ivey HBAs Bryn Davis Williams and Jessica Bosman, it means dismantling archaic systems to serve women better. First up: bras.
Any female shopping for clothing - whether it is outerwear or innerwear - knows the nightmare of finding anything that fits. Sizing is dependent on the whim of a particular manufacturer and that can be subject to change from year to year. Lack of consistency is the norm. Women tend to settle for “good enough” or “close enough” partly because we have long been conditioned to accept the status quo. There aren’t many alternatives.
Women get discouraged by current sizing in fashion if they don’t fit into a predetermined size of clothing. They feel there is something wrong with their body and that doesn’t contribute to confidence – thinking it's something that's wrong with their body rather than with something that's wrong with the system and the retailing world.
Bryn Davis Williams, HBA '18, BA'18
Williams and Bosman think there is something radically wrong with a system that forces women to settle for “sort of OK.” One of the core principles of their company DOUBL is to never have to fit yourself into a standard, both literally and figuratively.
If you feel comfortable with yourself then anything is possible.
Williams and Bosman were always interested in entrepreneurship and the challenge of creating and scaling brands. They met as HBA students and their commitment to women’s issues and a mutual love of entrepreneurship built a friendship. Both viewed the female apparel industry as stagnant in terms of real change, especially when compared to the many seismic changes in other retail areas, including men’s innerwear.
When they graduated from business school, both went straight into demanding corporate careers. They valued the challenges and learning ground of the corporate world experience - but the entrepreneurship passion still burned. So, did the desire to really shake up the women’s clothing industry with an innovative approach.
Enter their company – DOUBL.
DOUBL produces custom-made bras without in-person visits. This modernization of bra shopping is achieved through their proprietary SmartPattern algorithm which takes a series of measurements, procured through the consumer’s smartphone via a scan, to create a bra made for the buyer’s unique shape and size. The product is designed to celebrate the duality of women and fit like a second skin.
The garment is produced in London, Ontario, using recycled polyester that diverts plastic bottles out of landfills and a dyeing process that reduces water and energy consumption while also being safer for the workers involved. DOUBL’s founders have incorporated their own values into every aspect of the business, including sustainability and concern for people in their supply chain. They envision their customers to be women who share in this worldview, who are confident and invest in quality items for themselves, regardless of societal or fashion industry norms. The company is currently in its product validation phase, and its founders plan to attract investors and prepare for a larger launch this summer.
Their business model, which leverages on-demand manufacturing, also solves one of the fashion industry’s largest financial and environmental problems– deadstock.
The garment itself is a true masterpiece, boasting a rich merlot hue that strikes a balance between boldness and softness, mirroring DOUBL’s brand ethos. For their full-scale launch, they plan to launch in white and black.
Williams and Bosman are an unstoppable team with a diverse set of skills that complement each other perfectly. Williams has a wealth of knowledge in go-to-market strategy, brand positioning, and building effective marketing plans. Moreover, her degree in psychology provides her with a deep understanding of consumer behavior, making her an invaluable asset to any company looking to succeed in the marketplace.
Bosman has exceptional knowledge of the fashion industry, having worked across multi-branded retailers and private label companies. Her experience as a buyer and merchant has honed her skills in trend forecasting, product development, and retail strategy to name a few. She is adept at bringing a product to life from initial conception to launch.
Together, they are a dynamic duo that brings grit, determination, and a fresh perspective to an industry that has not always listened to women. Their complementary skills, combined with their personal resources and drive, make them an irresistible force that will undoubtedly make a real difference in the industry.
Williams and Bosman cannot envision a life where they are not working for themselves; entrepreneurship is in their blood. Bosman notes an entrepreneur does need a high-risk tolerance, and both acknowledge having a co-founder is a huge bonus in terms of keeping motivation high and working out solutions. The duo are constantly brainstorming ideas and sketching out new versions of the business despite their bicoastal partnership. This collaborative approach helps to keep the creative flow alive and reinvigorates their journey of entrepreneurship while keeping them in constant connection.
Bosman firmly believes that one should never consider themselves trapped in a situation, whether in business or in life. Her philosophy is simple: change is always possible. Whether it’s pivoting a business, leaving a job, changing your habits, or moving to a new city, the possibilities are endless. She stresses the importance of being open to change and embracing new opportunities. Bosman recognizes that successful companies never stop evolving and remain relevant by continuously listening to their customers and adapting to their needs. The mindset of adaptability and openness is key to thriving both in business and in life.
Williams is currently in the Morrissette Accelerator program and finds the program easily lives up to the promise of accelerating the business. For Williams, applying herself full-time is crucial at this stage, while the mentorship and network have been a welcome bonus. Williams and Bosman were selected as one of six teams to pitch to investors at Western’s Demo Day, an annual event to give high-growth companies the opportunity to raise money to scale their businesses. The event will take place on May 30th.
Both Williams and Bosman are convinced the entrepreneurship pathway gives them the best way, not only to create beautiful products but to create beautiful lives as well.