There are many rites of passage in our lives. For most girls, their first bra marks the first rite of puberty. Most girls will always remember wearing that first bra - and depending on what generation you’re part of, that memory might not be a fond one. Sizing, comfort and style are the top three considerations when it’s time to shop for that first bra and Her-Rah! 1st Bras have it all … and something more: fun straps for all bra styles that truly personalize each bra to the young lady wearing it. Her-Rah! 1st Bras are the only customizable first bras out there thanks to the mother-daughter team of Carole Hamm and McKenna Hopla.
McKenna, now an eighth grade student at Boothbay Region Elementary School, approached her mom at the age of 10 about starting a company that made first bras. McKenna came up with the idea after her own first shopping experience for a first bra was disappointing and embarrassing.
While in Florida during school spring break, McKenna went shopping for her first bra and found just one. “It was a plain bra, with no support. I went to Target after that. They sold three-packs of first bras - white, nude and black,” McKenna said. “When I went to try them on there was a guy at the dressing room and he was touching my bras counting them. I felt really uncomfortable … I didn’t want a guy knowing what I was doing. At checkout there was another guy waiting on me again. I thought, I don’t want to go through this every time I buy a bra.
“The bras from Target were super plain, they weren’t cool or anything … it wasn’t as exciting and fun as I thought it would be ... I wanted pink ones and different straps and cross straps.”
Five months later, McKenna told her mom about her idea for a business: Make first bras for little girls. “I really loved the idea and the whole mother-daughter startup concept. I loved that this was my daughter’s idea,” Carole said. “What I love about McKenna is she never gives up. This was maybe her fourth business idea.”
That very weekend, mother and daughter went shopping checking out malls, Target and shops like Limited Too (many of which are closed). They held four focus groups with other mothers and daughters – from Boothbay Harbor to Michigan and Illinois – as part of their market research seeking feedback on everything from style preferences to materials and pricing to logos. Carole said they had a few bras made by a seamstress with them at the focus groups – pull ons (bralettes) with the interchangeable straps. Mothers in some of the focus groups said the bras were so well made they could easily go for $35, but Carole and McKenna wanted to make the bras affordable for girls in all socioeconomic situations. And they held firm in their commitment to affordability: bras are $19.95. In talking with the moms of McKenna’s friends they discovered many wished there was something special out there for first bras. Carole and McKenna set out to define what that special something would look like.
McKenna really wanted to make buying and wearing that first bra fun, cool and supportive. They decided to create an online business. So many department chain stores that have been closing in recent years while e-commerce continues to grow. And, by having an online shop girls wouldn’t have to worry about embarrassing situations like McKenna’s. It’s taken 2-1/2 years, but the time for Her-Rah! 1st Bra has come. The website https://herrah1stbra.com went live on Dec. 14, 2018.
The “something special,” the distinctive element separating Her-Rah! 1st Bras from all others are those interchangeable straps! And they are fun: There are the tie-dyed Surfer straps, pleated organza straps, the sport straps (adorned with soccer balls, basketballs, volleyball – even one for cheerleaders and dancers); the sweetheart, the chevron and camo (camouflage) strap collections all in a wide array of colors ... even the hardware comes in silver, blue and pink!
The Her-Rah! 1st Bra collections began with the Grace, a lace T-shirt bra, followed by the Lily and Emma bralettes and the lightly padded McKenna bra. The T-shirt bra and the bralettes are available in sizes S (6/6X), M (7/8), L (10/12), XL (14); the McKenna is available in A cup sizes 28, 30, 32 and 34.
The line’s name embodies celebration. Carole and a friend came up with the name one night in September 2016 during a brainstorming session. When Carole ran the name by McKenna, “I thought it was really cute. I liked the different spelling, the play on the word ‘hurrah,’” McKenna said.
“In our culture today, with the Me Too and girl empowerment movements, we feel we are emerging with these products at such a relevant time,” Carole said. “Our message of girl power is about owning your goals, owning your future.”
To that end, Her-Rah! 1st Bra will donate a portion of its proceeds to organizations that help empower and support young girls in need the world over. Information will be on the website.
Even the bras’ packaging will delight each girl because it’s pretty ’n pink and girly – bras are even wrapped in organza bags. All bras and straps are ready to be ordered now. Gift sets of two bras, two straps for each bra and a mesh bag to wash them in will be coming soon. As will one thing more ...
Another rite of passage, usually following breast development, is the arrival of the period. Carole and McKenna approached this in brilliant form with their offering of The Period Kit. For $24.95, young girls are prepared for onset and regular monthly periods. The kit includes: two feminine hygiene wipes, two panty liners, two junior pads, two junior tampons, a Tide stain remover pen, one branded durable plastic baggie for clean undies all in a reusable polyester drawstring bag!
There are also a Menstrual Cycle Calendar and a poster about further physical and physiological changes still to come. Carole emphasized the importance of these educational, developmental additions to the Her-Rah! 1st Bra website: There are a lot of dads out there who for various reasons are raising their daughters alone or who have daughters living with them most of the time who will be on this developmental journey with their daughters. The information becomes a useful tool. Dads can’t rely on personal experience, after all.
“Young girls don’t have to be shy, they don’t have to be embarrassed when it’s time for that first bra; they can begin their developmental journey with anticipation and excitement,” Carole said. “Her-Rah 1st Bra is a celebration of all girls.”
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