Meet Anne Oommen
Meet Anne Oommen, founder of her namesake lingerie brand our August 2020 Pre-Accelerator attendee.
“In the last few years, I have been implementing HR systems. It’s quite different to what I am doing with my business, but it’s developed my leadership, process reengineering and problem-solving skills under a lens of making things more efficient. I think I have always had a ‘is this really the easiest way to do this’ approach so that kind of role suited me well.
I also volunteer a couple of times a year (or at least I did, pre-Covid!) organising ‘on the day activities’ for events at the O2 arena and Wembley Arena. It’s fun running around backstage!”
Q1: Could you introduce YOUR STARTUP, to us?
Anne: My brand, named after myself (after much persuasion from my friends that it sounded good for a lingerie brand?!), creates lingerie for women who are done hunting for that perfect fit bra.
Using our patented solution, we custom-make your bras from scratch to create a bra that matches your body’s unique needs. This takes the hassle out of traipsing around stores, and trying on countless bras in the hope of finding one that “will do” –– because everyone’s breasts are different, so your bra needs to be too! This puts the wearer at the centre of the design of the product, rather than the other way around.
How it started
After a personal nightmarish shopping experience, I decided that there had to be an easier way for women to buy lingerie with the confidence that it would fit them (without wanting to take it off at the earliest opportunity), without spending hours trying and looking for the closest fit.
I then spent a few years researching (being told “no” a lot) and investigating options; speaking to all kinds of specialists, including breast surgeons, fashion leaders, lingerie buyers and other women. I could then see the wider reaching challenges and fine tuned my response to this global problem.
While it started out as a bit of a hobby, it has progressed into something that I believe will become a game changing solution. We’ve now completed a proof of concept and got the solution patented.
Q2: How have your personal experiences shaped your venture that we see today?
Anne: It’s been a rollercoaster! I get my moments of fear, of “what am I doing,” and also of total elation/ excitement!
Quite a few people are excited and getting behind my venture, which is so encouraging. One of the best parts is experiencing the kindness of strangers, who are happy to provide their advice / expertise for free because they really believe in what I am doing and want to be a part of it. I think it’s just a really lovely way of living, which has led me to offer the same kind of help to people (in a pay-in-forward way). I think it’s shone a light on humanity’s really positive side!
I have had the opportunity to speak and connect with some super interesting people of whom I never would have without my business. It has broadened my mind a lot and become a part of who I am now.
The start-up’s definitely come with its challenges – I am driving all of this on my own, whilst also working full time, so it basically takes up all my spare time.
Q3: How did you apply our Pre-Accelerator to the development of YOUR BRAND?
Anne: Dave, Tom and the team have curated some brilliant content. It’s inspired me to listen to more podcasts/ Ted Talk type content. It’s also great to hear from them as people who have “been there and done that” and are able to share from their own experiences.
You could probably find these resources on the internet, but the SeedReady community cuts through a lot of the noise. It’s a wealth of valuable information, especially for those who are almost market-ready.
I also love the fact that our completed exercises are then challenged and given feedback –– getting a second pair of eyes on my approach is so valuable. The ability to ask questions specific to our business if we are unsure is great too.
Q4: What would you tell someone who is considering joining our Pre-Accelerator?
Anne: For me, it’s a no brainer. I can’t understand why anyone who wants to launch a successful business wouldn’t join this. The opportunity to get expert (sometimes even 1:1) guidance on your start-up is so valuable –– it’s a programme where you get out of it as much as you put in. They walk you through exercises that force you to think about (and commit to paper) elements that are difficult to work through, but once done, are so valuable.
They have also structured the programme really well: I found it particularly useful that you can listen to the recordings at your leisure if you can’t join it live. The guest speakers have been brilliant; I was also able to ask them questions specific to my business, which in other scenarios I probably would have been charged quite a bit! If there was to be a monetary value to the content and 1:1 opportunity for feedback we all received, it would be a very expensive course!
I have also had the pleasure of connecting with other founders. It’s great to be able to have a community where I can meet like-minded people, help others or meet people who can help me.