Megan Grassell founded her teen-targeted underwear company, Yellowberry, at 17 and now, as a high-school senior, she is trying to juggle a very full schedule of classes, extracurricular activities, and running a burgeoning business. "To say it's taking over my life is a very small way to put it," Grassell laughed during an interview with Fortune. "But I love it."
It was during a trip to the mall with Mary Margaret, her younger sister, that inspiration struck: "I was shopping for bras at the mall with my mom and little sister, and we went to a bunch of different stores looking for a good first bra for Mary Margaret, but there was nothing. There were jogging bras or these very sexual padded, push-up bras. I kept wondering, where is the cute little bra in fun colors? I realized that it just didn't exist. About a week later it hit me: If no one else is going to do it, I'm going to do it. I'm going to make bras for girls."
Yellowberry bras for teens.
To fund her startup, Grassell raided her savings: "I worked every summer since sixth or seventh grade. First pumping gas and then I bussed tables and waitressed at a place called Nora's, which is a fantastic restaurant. I saved all of that and used it to get my product to the prototyping phase."
While Grassell throws around words like "prototyping" now, actually developing prototypes for her bras presented a steep learning curve for the teen. "Going into this process, I had no experience. I don't even know how to sew! If I get a hole in my jeans, I'm out of luck, because I don't know how to fix it," said Grassell. "There are a lot of things that have to come together in order for a bra to be made. Sourcing the fabric was a challenge, finding out where to produce and who to work with. I didn't know about quantities or anything. I had to learn all of that."
[Read Full Article: Yellowberry founder Megan Grassell's business crash course]