How a fledgling lingerie company is crushing Victoria’s Secret 

How a fledgling lingerie company is crushing Victoria’s Secret 

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As Michelle Cordeiro Grant grew up, she thought she had to be a doctor or a lawyer. As a daughter of Indian immigrants, it seemed like the right path to success.

But a job at Victoria’s Secret changed not only her career path, but also her idea of what it means to be a woman. Now, she’s the founder and CEO of a fast-rising lingerie brand that’s taking on her former employer.

“I started to ponder on the idea of, what if you took the power of brand and leverage that to build a community – a community of women,” Grant said, “where now we’re actually talking about the things we want to do, and we’re supporting each other to go after those ideas and those crazy things that we call dreams. What could happen with the world if women actually lived to their full potential versus living in the safe zone? And that’s kind of where Lively came from.”

Lively was founded by Grant in April 2016, and has been growing ever since — with its latest move its partnership with Nordstrom this year. The brand hones in on female positivity, using comfortable bras and activewear to get there— combining lingerie and leisure to pen the term “leisurée.”

Every bra from the brand is $35 and includes items such as t-shirt bras, bralettes, push-ups and strapless styles. Seventy percent of their pieces are wire-free, and sizes range from 32A to 40DD. But Cordeiro knows not all women fall within this range and says more sizes will come as the company perfects more products.

Lively’s success comes as companies, once seen as leaders in lingerie, begin to fall in popularity. In August, shares of L Brands, which owns lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret, were down more than 10 percent to $28.66 a share, trading at lows not seen since 2011. To date, the company is down 33 percent for the year, largely due to a spike in inclusivity and an appeal to all sizes, which L Brands has failed to keep up with.

In contrast, Lively has found its niche and is booming — growing by 300 percent in 2017 and expecting to see triple-digit gains again for 2018. And while the company does not publicly disclose its earnings, Forbes estimates that Lively has netted more than $10 million within the last year.

Lively is making its name known in the lingerie space – a $7 billion market – by not only selling products catered to bodies of all shapes and sizes, but also creating events and experiences for its consumers to participate in. The brand’s partnership with Nordstrom this year helped solidify that approach and further establish the company’s footing in the market.

The brand announced its partnership with Nordstrom in September, where its products are available on the retail giant’s website and in 11 of its locations, including stores in San Diego, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Seattle. Grant said the partnership is helping Lively “understand which markets to go towards” by feeling out a department store space.

“Two years ago they [Nordstrom] asked us to partner with them, and we said no, because we really wanted to make sure our brand was cohesive and that the experience was always consistent,” Grant said.

“So we knew that it was too soon to partner with anyone in a wholesale environment,” she added. “But they spent the last year and a half getting to know us and understanding what’s important to us and our core values, and so they partnered and designed and helped build with us Lively experiences right near the escalators that really show the identity of who we are.”

This comes as companies, once seen as leaders in lingerie, begin to fall in popularity. In August, shares of L Brands, which owns Victoria’s Secret, were down more than 10 percent to $28.66 a share, trading at lows not seen since 2011, CNBC reported. The decline is largely due to a spike in inclusivity and an appeal to all sizes, which L Brands has failed to keep up with.

In contrast, Lively grew by 300 percent in 2017 and expects to see triple-digit gains again for 2018. And while the company does not publicly disclose its earnings, Forbes estimates that Lively has netted more than $10 million within the last year.

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