By Chelsea Rose Moore
Photos by Michelle Baker

When Lana and Livy Beyene couldn’t find a bra they liked, they decided to design their own. Just two years after beginning the process, the Livy & Lana, Bras For Us entrepreneurs held their launch party in September at Le Boudoir in Middleburg.

Kayse Small, owner of Le Boudoir and “Nana” to the girls, asked them to make a list of likes and dislikes about the bras they were wearing at the time. At the top of the list was a lack of “snugness.” During their physical education classes, the bras would ride up and loose their supportiveness.

“The fabric was itchy, and the straps weren’t stable,” said Livy, 10, who attends Gravely Elementary School. Meet the Buttercup Bra. The first in the Livy & Lana line, the bra is designed for girls ages 8 to 14. Made from eco-friendly and organic fabric, the bra comes in four different colors: natural, charcoal, sleet (a light grey), and mellow rose (a blush pink). The bra is a sweetheart-style, providing full coverage and an age-appropriateness for young girls.

In the design process, the family focused on creating a strong underband bust. At half an inch, the underband has a butterfly grip around the band to secure it in place and ensure the bra will not ride up or move. Their goals for the line are two-fold: to create comfortable, age-appropriate bras for young girls and to help them understand their worth as young women. “We created this product so we can have conversations,” said Small, “Girls develop, and we have to give them information during the process. It was so taboo [to talk about] for so long, [but] why not give them the information they need to be confident?”

The company mantra is: Confident girls become confident women. “We hope that we can create a safe space to have this conversation in this age group, so they can talk and share with each other. The product is just a venue to be able to get to all of that,” added Small.

After Googling manufacturing companies, the family found one that seemed to understand their needs. The company was 95 percent woman-based. The owner had been in the clothing industry for years, but wanted to offer designers the chance to bring their designs to life on a small scale. Small flew to Minnesota to tour the factory, and came away knowing that the Livy & Lana bras wouldn’t be “just another product going through.” The United States manufacturing company believed in the product and the heart of Livy & Lana, too. 

From there, Small and her granddaughters arranged a focus group of girls, asking questions like, “How did the bra feel?” and “How did the bra hold up after washing it?” The reviews were glowing. “Our breast care is just as important as our eye and dental care,” said Small, adding that breast care goes beyond an annual mammogram. She pointed out that 85-90 percent of women are wearing the wrong bras or poorly fitting bras. Having good, supportive bras is the first step toward prioritizing breast care and taking care of one’s self. 

“As women, we need to know our worth,” she said, “That’s why we get depleted so easily, because we don’t know our worth. We put ourselves last. I’m dedicating the rest of my life to women empowerment. It should start when the girls are young. We have to [learn] it from our mothers or our aunts or our friends. The earlier girls [learn it], the more confident they are. They can go out and create whatever they want in the world.”

The Livy & Lana line will be sold exclusively at Le Boudoir. Down the road, they would love for it to be stocked at specialty stores or places where mothers and daughters can try on bras together. They would love to see it sold online through various shops. And if Target was ever an option, they wouldn’t be opposed to it. 

The Livy & Lana line debuted at Le Boudoir on Sunday, Sept. 29. The  afternoon “pink carpet” event featured a photographer taking photos of the girls on the pink carpet, pink popcorn, and Livy & Lana bras to try on. 

What comes next for the Livy & Lana line? A bra for 13-18-year-olds or the “phase two” bra. They are hoping to have it on shelves sometime in 2020. Lana, 13, a student at Ronald Reagan Middle School, has also been sketching ideas for sweatshirts, scrunchies, headbands, and water bottles to add to the product line. Find Livy & Lana bras at Le Boudoir, located at 5 South Madison Street, Middleburg. ML

This article first appeared in the October 2019 issue of Middleburg Life.