By Molly Virostek
I sat down with Tania Garcia, CUUP's Director of Fit and Customer Experience, to demystify the bra fitting process and learn about the sizing shake ups that CUUP designs will bring to the world.
Bra fittings are notoriously uncomfortable or traumatic for women and young girls. You walk into a dressing room with a stranger who sizes you up and gives you a number and letter that feels permanent and personal. I’ve always hated the idea, and figured I could feel my own way. But within minutes of meeting Tania, I was openly discussing all the things I loved and hated about my breasts, and attempting to understand these issues instead of filing them away. As it turns out, I’ve been wearing bras that are two sizes off - and all it took was someone who knew what questions to ask and was willing to listen.
Tania has been fitting bras since her early twenties. For years, she has listened to women talk about their bodies, struggle with difference, and eventually make peace with their true size. She preaches the value of compassionate listening and talks about the challenge (and opportunity) of building this level of human connection into an online business.
MV: What are some of the things that you have heard in the dressing rooms over the years?
TG: You know… there’s a lot. There’s a lot that women go through in terms of our experience with our bodies, just alone with our bodies. And then, when we attach bras to them, it’s a whole other thing. But overall, the voice that I hear is the want and the need to be the same, to feel supported, to feel good in your own size whatever that may be.
MV: Why do we wear bras?
TG: As the years go by and I talk to so many women, I think it’s the need to feel that you have something on and that it’s a personal decision. It’s a form of identifying ourselves - am I sexy? Am I an everyday girl? Am I a bralette girl? We can’t walk around with nothing. It’s 2018 - we are working women! But we also want to feel comfortable.
MV: Right! In a way, it’s the only piece of clothing that we truly wear for ourselves.
TG: It truly is. It’s for you, I’ve always said that. Don’t buy something for your boyfriend or your girlfriend. You will never wear it again. You will wear it for that special occasion. But these bras are for us. It’s the closest thing to our hearts and our skin. We gotta love them.
MV: Are there any dressing room moments that stick out - a time when a girl found the right size and felt empowered or overwhelmingly relieved?
TG: Every day. Every day I have moments like that. There is such a huge percentage of women that are wearing the wrong size, but when they put the right one on they feel amazing. But the fitting process is sensitive. You are going into a fitting room with a person you don’t know, you’re telling her your problems. I think for the younger girls it’s a lot more difficult to hear these things. And social media these days makes you constantly feel that you’re either too small or too big.
There was this one young lady. 18 or 20 years old. She was with her mom. Very sweet, very quiet. She was busty, and wearing sports bras and big t-shirts to minimize, smoosh and hide. She went to Victoria's Secret and they fit her into a 36D. I wanted her to feel comfortable. I wanted her to feel that it’s OK to talk to someone about these issues, because we were going to work together to solve them. She was okay with the process, but to hear the size change… that’s when it hit her. She was comfortable with the fit process. The shocking part was the size of bra. There were tears, there were moments for her where she needed a minute alone in the dressing room, which I understood.
What I don’t like to say is, “You’re a 34B. That’s it.” It’s a process. You have to explain why. She has to understand it by herself. Give her a second, let her feel herself in the bra, let her sit down in it. At the end of it all, we became friends. She hugged me, she cried again, her mom hugged me. Those are moments that have always stuck with me. Because I was a young girl once, too.
MV: In your experience, what is the most important factor in making this process more enjoyable?
TG: It’s all about the right wording and starting a conversation. It’s different now that I’m doing things online. When I used to have someone in front of me in a store - facial expressions, emotions, body language and all that takes into consideration when you’re doing a physical fitting. All those things help you listen compassionately. But listening is still the most important part of this process.
MV: How are you translating this human connection and ability to listen in a dressing room to an online business? Tackling such a sensitive subject. I’m sure it’s a huge challenge.
TG: It’s challenging because I’m not used to the separation of being on a computer as opposed to seeing you. I’m trying to understand our products as much as I can to help translate that to our customers and starting a conversation. Beyond this young lady’s size, what styles really work for her? What does she want to be wearing? Asking those questions help you connect with the customer and get her in the best bra for her.
MV: Can you walk me through the process - if I was sitting in front of my computer, and wanted to buy a bra but wasn’t sure of my sizing, what kind of services does Cuup provide me to help me choose the right option?
TG: We have a fit quiz that will help understand your size range. For example, how are your bands? Are they too big? Too small? Is your cup overflowing? Are you getting four boobs? Is your wire poking on the sides? Is it not sitting nice and flushed against your breast? Is your center gore pushing away from your sternum? Those are the questions we are asking to go beyond the measurements and focus on the issues we are solving.
MV: So it’s not just the numbers and letters. Can you tell me a little about the different styles of bras and how you would approach finding the right one?
That’s where we have gotten it wrong for years. Fit goes beyond size - you have to understand what styles work for you. Once you get into larger sizes, you hear: I don’t want seams, I don’t want bells, I don’t want whistles. I want coverage. I don’t want padding. I don’t want bulge. I don’t want back fat.
That’s why Cuup is amazing. Because now we’ve created these products for women to feel great in all sizes. And in the same styles! For someone my size to see a beautiful bra in a 34B, and then see the same style in a 34G, just larger? Woah. Thank you.
For so many years, I had to tell women: I’m sorry I don’t have this in your size. And when I do, it’s a ridiculous bra that doesn’t look anything like the original bra.
MV: Right! By allowing everyone to wear the “same” bra, you are actually allowing and celebrating difference.
TG: Yes, it’s beautiful! Up until now, bra options have been frustrating. Not just for me, but for so many women. We shouldn’t have to get frustrated and surrender to a sports bra. Our bras are our foundation. If our bras aren’t right, we aren’t right all day. We are fidgeting and uncomfortable. I’m so stoked that Cuup has done this, and proud to be a part of it.
MV: What is the main impact you hope Cuup to have on the women in your community?
I want them to know that we have created these bras for them, for us. We’ve worked hard on these designs to ensure that an A and a G can stand in the same room and share in the same delight over the styles they are trying on. We’ve designed Cuup to make us feel united. As we should be.