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Shape-Shifter

Fashion tech entrepreneur Heidi Zak Spector is constantly thinking about your bras—so that you don’t have to.

SLIDESHOW

ThirdLove’s co-founder and co-CEO, Heidi Zak Spector.

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Satin demi bra, $76, and satin lace bikini, $34, from ThirdLove’s new bridal collection.

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24/7 lace balconette bra in periwinkle, $76.

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Fresh off the heels of its move from a nondescript 8,000-square-foot space to a new three-story, 27,000-square-foot headquarters in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood—featuring a branded Fit Lab retail space—ThirdLove has come a long way since Heidi Zak Spector and her husband, David Spector, quit their Valley jobs to co-found the online lingerie business out of their SoMa apartment in 2012. “I literally pinch myself every day,” says Heidi, noting that her now 230-employee company that has raised a total of $30 million in venture capital will soon double its head count and more than double its revenue this year. “It’s cool to touch that many people with something you’re literally wearing every day.”

A former international director at teen retailer Aeropostale before taking a senior marketing manager role at Google in 2010, Heidi was neither a lingerie aficionado nor an expert in bra design before her deep dive into underwear. She did, however, have an aversion to bra shopping and a drawer full of ratty, ill-fitting bras that caused an annoying itch on her back. “It’s one of my biggest pet peeves about bras—that tag that you cut off, but then that little piece still rubs against your back,” says the 39-year-old Pittsburgh native who was raised in Youngstown, N.Y. “[My husband] would laugh because I’d come home from work and ask him to scratch my back for me. He even bought me a backscratcher!”

Knowing firsthand the pains caused by the awkward bra-shopping experience and from wearing the garment itself, Heidi decided to use her fashion and tech background to disrupt what she saw as a stale industry in sore need of innovation and monopolized by the behemoth brand Victoria’s Secret. “Being in the Valley and at Google, there was this idea of embracing the crazy and the passion and support for all entrepreneurs,” she recalls. “That’s when I knew I wanted to start a company.” Merging comfort and style, ThirdLove’s bras offer elevated details influenced by a French design aesthetic, such as lace and gold alloy accents, tag-free bands, padded hook-and-eye closures, soft memory foam cups, no-poke underwire and the first-of-its-kind half-cup sizing. Having expanded upon bras, the brand also sells organic cotton loungewear and recently added a chic bridal collection and a wider range of 75 sizes to the mix.

Using an algorithm to collect more than 350 million data points from its online Fit Finder Quiz, which has so far been used by 8 million women, says Heidi, ThirdLove is constantly striving to provide the most number of women a beautifully designed second-skin bra—all without ever having to leave the comfort of their homes. “The best possible thing anyone could say to me is that I wear your bras,” she says. “And I never have to think about them.”

 

Originally published in the June issue of Silicon Valley

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