Interview: Shauna Allan, Founder of The Modern Match Lingerie

  • Published on:
    August 19, 2021
  • Reading time by:
    4 minutes

In 2020, the global lingerie retail market was valued at approximately 42 billion U.S. dollars. By 2027, it’s forecasted to reach a value of 78.66 billion U.S. dollars. Why the massive growth? The industry has been making intentional efforts to be more inclusive. Victoria Secrets’ demise was fuelled by its provocative campaigns and the change in cultural norms for more body-positive representation.

The shift in what is beautiful has changed the minds of young women particularly, and more are seeking comfort before sexiness, and functionality before appeal. 

Modern Match is on a mission to show women when we wear lingerie for ourselves, and are comfortable, we carry ourselves with confidence. They walk with your head a little higher and your superpower shines brighter. Modern Match’s lingerie is YOUR armor, your badge that you belong to a sisterhood, a collective of women who are redefining what it means to “feel sexy”. 

‘’Be empowered knowing that you are embracing you, that you are doing it for you!’’

Prior to founding Modern Match Lingerie Inc. and The Bra Bra Sisterhood – Shauna Allan was working in sales and finance for over a decade earning a spot in the top 10 in North America in sales. But it was the community involvement that fulfilled her through charity events and fundraising initiatives. This inspired her to take a position at a local hospital foundation as a finance manager to give back to her community. In 2019 Shauna decided to become an Entrepreneur founding Modern Match Lingerie where she could make a bigger impact in people’s lives. She was on a mission to support women into stepping into their confidence and power one bra at a time. She also launched the Bra Bra Sisterhood creating inclusivity for women around the globe. Read more about her journey here.

Women On Topp spoke Shauna Allan about how she started her business, her experiences and what advice she can give us. 

What was the inspiration behind Modern Match? 

I designed this brand in memory of my mom, who like most moms, was really great at putting others before herself and giving her love away. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years taking care of us kids and she was also the caregiver to my dad battling melanoma cancer for many years. She didn’t leave a lot of time for self-love and it eventually cost her her life. After suddenly losing my mom to heart disease, I now dedicate my life to showing women when we save a little love for ourselves, we can better show up for those around us and be a bigger impact. 

I chose the items that sit closest to our skin because I don’t believe it gets more personal than that. I design armour for women to tackle whatever life throws their way. A little confidence boost under their clothing that no one gets to know about but them! Unless they decide to, of course.  

Hard to believe that empowerment can be found in lingerie, but when it fits right, feels good, and offers support, you can take charge of your day.

Can you please tell us more about the models you use and the decision to not edit your imagery?

In each of our photoshoots, we look for a diverse group of women to represent the many shapes, styles, ethnicities and interests we women are made of. Most of our models are women from within our community! Celebrating the curves, stretch marks, scars and the folds of our skin is a reminder of how incredible we are as women! We endure a lot in our lifetime and photography is a beautiful way to celebrate our journeys, not hide it! 

Up to 86% of adolescent girls will experience stretch marks throughout puberty and up to 88% of pregnant women will experience them, so why are we hiding them when most of us have them? We are creating relatability and inclusivity and that means we get to celebrate everything from abs, strength, stretch marks, cellulite and everything in between. 

Where do you source the majority of your bras from? 

The Modern Match collection is designed in our office in British Columbia, Canada. It’s from here we design our styles through sketches, create our color pallet, we select the materials to be used and size range. We consult with a designer, Kelly, in Los Angeles, California who supports us with our technical packs and grading, and we work closely with our manufacturing team in Hong Kong, also fully run by women. Something unique to our lingerie line is how we size our pieces. Historically, brands will fit a small and use a mathematical equation to achieve the rest of the sizes. It was common for brands to use this method because historically, the average cup size was a B. However, the system never changed even though our average cup size has increased. And simply put, we are more than just a mathematical equation. 

With each new style we introduce, I fit my own size first so I can be my own worst critic. I want to ensure we are not only achieving a proper fit, but our pieces fit into everything that goes into a woman’s day. I then fit every size to a model. This is important because as our breast shape decreases or increases, the structure can change. 

With the average breast size in North America hovering between a D and DD, and antiquated styles designed by older companies, there was a need for something comfortable, sexy and available to all. Most women end up wearing bras that don’t properly fit thus leaving them uncomfortable all day. Not knowing their bra size and trying to fit into standardized sizes; small, medium, and large, leave many in a bind. It is a booby trap and one that Modern Match Lingerie wants women to break free from.

What else should we know about you? What sets Modern Match apart from the competition? 

With your well-being at the forefront of our brand, we are more than just a lingerie line. We are fueled by a growing community, the Bra Bra Sisterhood, where we bring together women of all shapes, sizes and cultural backgrounds to rejoice in what it means to be a modern-day woman. We have a private Facebook community for women to interact with one another, we host a monthly virtual Empower Hour featuring keynote speaks and we have our blog contributor community. 

What advice would you give to other aspiring female entrepreneurs?

One of your greatest tools will be your network. Often entrepreneurs can be left feeling lonely, looking for external validation or simply stuck on what their next move is. According to Entrepreneur.com, 20% of small businesses will fail in their first year. This number is heightened to 70% by the fifth year. When you surround yourself with like-minded individuals, ones who genuinely want to see you succeed, you will have created a support network to bounce ideas off, share the wins and pivot the hard times. 

Secondly, I would share, as much effort as you are putting into your business, it should equal the same amount of effort you’re putting into yourself. There will be a moment, a period of time, when your passion will start to feel like ‘work’ and it won’t feel as exhilarating as it once did. This is your queue to check in with yourself. Are you exercising, putting nutritious food in your body, taking time for yourself? It is our responsibility, as leaders, to be intentional, refreshed, creative and empowering. 

Tell me about what you’re working on now.

We’ve been celebrating with our community members our newest collection launch!  Being a self-funded brand, our launch strategy has been unfolding in stages. Inclusivity is in our vision and although we have a long way to go, we just knocked off a big goal of extending our size range after just 5 months of our initial launch date. We started with our top-selling style of bra, the wire-free, and our underwear line. What’s next? More sizes! We are currently working on our underwire collection and adding more sizes to our current line.

On our community side, the Bra Bra Sisterhood, our monthly virtual Empower Hours have grown significantly. We have some incredible keynote speakers lined up until October but are always on the lookout for women who also focus on others’ wellbeing. When we first decided to launch this event, I was a little apprehensive to be honest. I wasn’t sure how it was going to be received, I think I was personally just spending a lot of time in virtual meetings that I was feeling one more virtual meeting was a lot. But each month we keep growing. We have women who have been with us since the inception and we’re always meeting new members and we will be taking this to an in-person event in the near future! 

Can you share some marketing tips on how to launch a new product? 

Being a startup means a lot of trial and error. I looked for a lot of external answers and took advise from a lot of people who hadn’t been on a similar path. This resulted in a lot of dollars spent that could’ve been put to work in other areas. 

My top three areas to focus on would be:

  • Market research, market research, market research. Before you develop a product, make sure people want it besides yourself. There are a lot of free survey sites to take advantage of and get curious about people’s buying habits, what they typically wear/use and what excites them. This is also a great start to email collection in the beginning. People love being a part of a brand that is growing. 
  • Start working on SEO from the beginning and skip the Facebook ads. This is also something you can start on your own. There are a lot of free resources out there to support you. 
  • Get a PR strategy in place. You don’t need to hire an agent in the beginning. Your current audience is only so big so leveraging other people’s audience is a great tool to get your brand in front of. List your top three publications and start mingling and networking with the editors. 

What is a skill you think all women should learn and why?  

Finances! Prior to launching Modern Match Lingerie, I worked in Finance and Sales for over a decade. It was more common than not, to see the struggles women face and a lack of understanding of how finance works, what a credit score means and where to invest. Not only is there a need for women to understand finance, but also their relationship with money. It holds a lot of emotion for people but at the end of the day, money is a tool and meant to be used and understood. Empower yourself! 

If you could go back by ten years, what would be some of the top tips you would give our audience?

Make your own well-being non-negotiable. We have a lot of women within our community who express how exhausted they are running their business, raising children and simply trying to fit in all their errands. And for a lot of us, our well-being can take a backseat.  But here’s your reality check, a depleted you are no good to anyone. If you’re leading a team, showing up for a community, raising children, you owe it to them to be the example of what an empowered leader looks like. Stop normalizing fatigue. 

What has been your key (or keys) to success?

This is such a great question and one that I often look for from other entrepreneurs. Here are my top three:

  • Be in service of others – When I feel stumped, lack of creativity, overwhelmed, I always reach out to see how I can support others. It allows my brain to focus on something positive (it feels good to see someone else succeed) and it always spurs creativity inside myself. 
  • My network of people – My network is continually growing and evolving, and I cherish each and every person I encounter. Entrepreneurship can be lonely, but only if you choose it to be. There are a ton of networking events to attend, with people who are in a similar place as you. Get social! 
  • Me time – Being a business owner, I don’t always have the option to shut work off. But creating and taking advantage of pockets of time to give myself some rest is one of my greatest tools. Me time might look like a date night with my husband, taking the dogs on a hike or simply listening to some great music and chilling. 

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