Just years after launch, ThirdLove is serious competition for long-established brands like Victoria’s Secret. Zak credits the success of the company to bras with features like memory foam cups, but also something no other company offers—half cup sizes. Most lingerie companies offer bras in sizes A through F, but for many women, those sizes don’t fit quite right. “Early on, we did large customer focus groups and connected with so many women who needed half cup sizes. We understood that we had created something truly different that would change and industry,” Zak says.
ThirdLove is transforming the bra as well as the bra shopping experience—moving the entire process online. “So many women are wearing bras that are too old because they hate to shop for new ones,” Zak says. ThirdLove offers an online fit test so women can find the right size as well as a robust customer review system. “Most retailers don’t know a lot about their customers—who they are or what drove them into the store. We’re constantly tweaking things based on reviews and learning more about the customer,” Zak says.
While innovative and iterative products contribute to ThirdLove’s success, the launch of the company can be partially attributed to timing. “If I would have had this idea earlier in my career, I’m not sure I would have taken the plunge,” she says. Before launching ThirdLove, Zak worked at retailer Aeropostale and Google. “Having the breadth of career before this made me feel competent enough to be able to ask the right questions,” she says. “With entrepreneurship, you learn that no matter how much you think you know, 90 percent of what you end up tackling, you didn’t know before.”
Zak says she still calls back on lessons learned from Sloan speakers and in classes like 15.311 Organizational Processes. “I remember the professors of that class said it would be the most impactful class I would take at Sloan,” she says. The class offered case studies on companies and their practices in building culture and hiring people. “It seemed obvious at the time, but it showed a lot of the softer side of business, which is so important,” she says.
Focusing on the softer side of ThirdLove, Zak visits the company’s customer support offices to check in with employees and see what customers are saying. “Some people call in just to say how much they love the bra they had gotten,” she says. “The ability to touch people’s lives every day with a physical product, that’s the goal of ThirdLove. Every day we are able to see it through reviews from our customers. It’s so awesome.”