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Sometimes, the most innovative ideas come from the past. Before the rise of big-chain stores, women bought bras that actually, you know, fit from professionals who used expertise and the right questions to find the proper sizing and support. It's a kind of — excuse the pun — intimate, customer-service rarity in modern retail. But two tech-savvy women have made it available to anyone with an Internet connection.
Created by Michelle Lam and Aarthi Ramamurthy, True & Co. is the online version of your grandmother's intimates shop. After asking intelligent, charming questions — “Which hook do you clasp your bra with?” and “Do your cups runneth over?” — the site uses a Netflix-like algorithm and express shipping to find five bras best suited for you. It's an of-the-moment way to deliver the ideal fit and a surprising education in your own body, inspired by a time-tested, almost-forgotten method.
Fascinated by the company's approach and impressed by its dedication to dressing as empowerment, we visited Lam and Ramamurthy in their specious San Francisco office to talk fits, fashion, and how their modern, working wardrobes start underneath their chic ensembles.
Michelle Lam: “I’m glad I took the scenic route to becoming an entrepreneur. I started out crunching numbers at a Big Four accounting firm, went on to corporate strategy at Microsoft, and then spent years investing in young companies at a venture capital firm. I never imagined I’d start a lingerie company, but I did want to redefine what lingerie means to women. All lingerie, especially bras, are emotional purchases. Whether we admit it or not, it's all about liking who you are in the mirror. So, one year ago, I came up with the idea for True & Co. and Aarthi joined me in October to actually build the company.”
Aarthi Ramamurthy: “By then, I’d been building widely used products for companies like Netflix and Microsoft for more than seven years. I’d come to understand algorithms while working with big data, like how personal recommendations work at Netflix. It’s funny, prior to working with Michelle, I found shopping for bras to be an extremely painful experience. After we met and commiserated on the difficulty of finding stylish bras that fit, we began to realize the possibility of leveraging our different backgrounds to build a company that would reinvent that experience.”
Michelle: “Our entire company sits around a giant white table in an industrial workspace… well, actually, it's five tables pushed together. We get into each other's business all the time, and the energy is incredible. On one wall, we write our favorite True&Co. customer quote of the week. It reminds us what we're all here for.”
Aarthi: “I love the open space with the sunshine coming through our big windows. The way we all sit together, I really feel like I’m working on a team, and that our culture is collaborative, open.”
Michelle: “I love something that's a little different, something that's eye-catching. Now that I have my own lingerie company, that sense of style extends to my outfit underneath. I wear a lot of bras in cool patterns or colors. I never match my bras and panties — it's all about the mix and match.”
Aarthi: “Yeah, wearing a black bra is so basic and boring, but when I put on something like the Marielle bra, I know I’m going to have a great outfit underneath. Other than that, I wear anything I want as long as it’s comfortable. My style revolves mostly around basics like jeans, T-shirts, and leather jackets, but I love my high heels and will occasionally wear dresses from Rachel Roy and Vena Cava. It’s all about confidence and being comfortable with who I am.”
Writing The Code
Michelle: “I've completely changed the way I dress for work over the past year. When I was a venture capitalist, I had a uniform — black, black, and more black. Now, as a female founder and entrepreneur, anything goes. It's very freeing to define your own ‘dress code.’ I've become a big fan of playful prints and colors. Actually, my mother and her three sisters taught me to love dresses and graceful, feminine details. Because of them, I try to make every day interesting.”
Aarthi: “At a start-up, we have a chance to set our own culture. When I moved to San Francisco and saw women in tech that dressed so well in clothes that fit, I realized you could have different styles and still look confident and put-together — that you could make yourself your own style icon.”
Levi's Drop Waist Dress, $80, at Levi.com
Levi's Bootcut Skinny Jeans, $78, available at Levi.com.
Levi's Front Pocket Shirt, $54, available at Levi.com.
Photographed by Maia Harms, Hair by Kendall Shira, Makeup by Katie Nash.