How I settled on my bra-nd – Constance Tipis
Any woman with a big bust understands the hassle of shopping for a fitting bra. For Constance.Tipis, this dilemma presented a business opportunity that gives curvier beauties a chance to rock stylish lingerie
Constance Tipis’ shop is eye candy to any woman who needs a good bra. The inviting display of all bra sizes leaves one spoilt for choice. As she strolls through the shop, it is not difficult to see why this place is like a second home. She has to spend most of her time there doing what she loves to do most – selling bras.
While growing up, Constance and some of her high school friends always had a challenge with getting the right bras due to their bust sizes.
She recalls that every time she went shopping, it could be a disaster because she could not get one that fits her and she would get comments such as ‘Madam we don’t have your size in this store’, which was just heartbreaking. At Woolworths, the only store that was selling big bras, they were going for between Sh9,000 and Sh10,000. Having just cleared high school, she could not afford one.
“I cleared high school and immediately thought of being an entrepreneur, I just didn’t have an idea of what exactly I would start with, but many times I had toyed with the idea of bringing in gorgeous bras for busty woman. When we started off, we were manufacturing the pieces by ourselves, but later it proved to be difficult due to funds and then we decided to order them from New York,” says Constance.
Starting the business was a bit of a challenge because she didn’t have enough money to fund it. At that time one of her friends was a student in New York and she asked her to participate in the Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business Innovation Competition where they came second place. She didn’t give up and later decided to participate in A Frerich business plan competition and came in first. She walked away with Sh2 million, which propelled her to start the business.
She named it Double Dees because her main focus was in dealing with busty women who struggle to find beautiful bras and lingerie that fit their DD size. They opened a store along Riverside Drive 44, on June 1, 2016 for vast size ranges, but the main focus was on full-busted women from DD to K cups.
It wasn’t easy at first since women were already used to shopping for second-hand bras. “Getting a woman to move from Mitumba bras, which go for Sh200-Sh500 wasn’t easy. We had to invest in good advertisement platforms that could help bring in clients,” says Constance.
She realised it was a good idea because African women are curvier and her bras would offer a solution to swollen shoulders with a black line running through and bulging boobs.
“Many times when walking in town I notice women with the wrong bras, it really gets to me to a point of handing them my business card. Worst thing is it’s really hard to convince a woman to buy a good bra that goes up for Sh4,000 and not a handbag because women invest in the outer appearance more,” says Constance.
The 28-year-old entrepreneur admits that she has benefitted a lot from the business. On a bad day, she makes at least Sh20,000. “My good days are when we have a bridal party shopping for their bras, we normally get a good deal out of that,” she explains.
Other than selling lingerie, Double Dees offers services such as bra measurements. “Many women out here are never sure of their cup size and band size, so anytime a client walks into our store, we are always glad to make sure they don’t leave our offices without having their measurements taken,” says Constance.
- Launched: June 2016
- Start-up Costs: about Sh1 million
- Projected Turnover: Sh5 million in 5 years
- Location: 44 Riverside Drive (After Office Park and directly opposite 9 Riverside Building), Nairobi