Symmetrista: bras tailored for uneven breasts

Founder Merlin Seeman talks us through the concept and business model of making unique bras, and the journey so far
BizAge Interview Team
Merlin Seeman

Hi Merlin! What does Symmetrista do?

Symmetrista is a bra company on a mission to create comfort for women who have uneven breasts. Our bras are crafted through proprietary technology, enabling production with a capacity to accommodate differences for up to 5 cups in breast sizes. It has taken several (micro)pivots to get to the point where we are now, being able to bring a bra to the market that caters for asymmetric breasts without any compromise.

What’s the origin story?

Symmetrista is born from the core idea that came to me about 15 years ago. Back in the 90s the selection for bras wasn’t exactly great – I don’t even remember what I was wearing, but it definitely wasn’t a bra with any type of support I actually needed and wanted. I was stuck with having to wear whatever bra travelled into my hands, staying away from clothes that’d be too tight or revealing. Another option was to look for bras with removable pads which never turned into a long-term solution, as they were uncomfortable and required readjusting throughout the day.

I started thinking why there isn’t a bra for uneven breasts that comes in one piece and stays this way. An ill-fitting bra is an issue many women have come across at least once or twice, and even more so when you’re a woman with uneven breasts. The idea played in the back of my mind off and on for years. As time went on, I once told my idea of the bra I’d kept on envisioning in my head to my husband. About two days later, he had somehow already found a cup-maker who happened to be on a business trip in our home town and we met up with him. I’d like to say the rest is history but in reality it’s been a steep learning curve filled with several pivots in product development and business strategy. It is however also immensely rewarding, now by the day.

What’s unique about what you do?

The journey to the phase the product is now has involved a close collaboration between myself, the product’s constructor-designer and a lingerie manufacturer who actually embarked on her first ever venture with a product of this nature. We’ve quite literally prototyped one bra at a time but have now standardised the sizes we can offer – for instance if you need a bra with one cup a certain size and the other one in a different size, we’re able to match it so the other cup is 2, 3, 4, or 5 sizes bigger. In the near future, we’re looking to have bras available that can cater for breasts with up to 7 cups difference. In order to achieve that goal, the team has developed specific moulds that help them in the production. For this, we used one of our first models, whose asymmetry is around 3-3,5 cups and have created one of the prototypes around her. The bra is the culmination of five years of meticulous development. Unlike other bras designed for women who for example have undergone mastectomy, which often have small pockets inside the bra’s cups to accommodate pad adjustments, from the outside, the bra looks like any other regular bra. All the modifications made in it are concealed on the inside.

It’s really common that women with uneven breasts are coming up with ‘creative’ solutions to support their chest. For example, buying bras with removable pads and moving them around in a way that the smaller breast would be supported as much as the larger one. Or adjusting the straps so one of the sides would be shorter, that tightens the larger breast in a way it would look levelled with the smaller one. However you do it, the bra still needs adjusting and re-adjusting throughout the day as the straps get loose and as a result, starts sliding around. Our Signature Bra works exactly like any conventional bra that fits well – you can put it on and forget about it.

Who are your customers?

Our customers are women who experience breast asymmetry for various reasons. Research shows that overall, up to 14% of women have uneven breasts. The survey we conducted among 11,000 women in the UK and EU got 1200 respondents and found that 38% identify as having asymmetrical breasts that would require an ad hoc bra. The causes for asymmetrical breasts vary, with many women born this way. It’s mostly linked to development, hormonal problems, pregnancy and breastfeeding and also breast cancer.

What were you doing before?

I’m a managing partner at Hedman Legal, an international law firm. I’m also a co-founder of a non-profit programming school kood/Jõhvi, where adults with no prior coding experience can gain skills for self-development or career change. I started studying entrepreneurship during my college days and then proceeded with a Law degree. Continuous learning is really important to me. During the last recession at the end of 00s, I had the pleasure to visit Silicon Valley to learn more about the startup ecosystem and the type of funding rounds they’re after. Advising startups on funding rounds has become one of the key business lines at my law firm.

What were the main challenges? And what learnings can you share?

It’s been a steep learning curve for sure but looking back, I don't think there could’ve been any shortcuts. We’ve come to understand it’s not a straightforward “here is the bra and you can place your order here” type of marketing we can do, as women are generally unaware there are bras that exist that could cater to them. Typically, it’s a topic women keep to themselves or discuss it in a small circle of friends or family. So we’re looking to put more emphasis on creating brand awareness and community building

What funding do you have? Is it enough?

We’ve mostly bootstrapped so far and recently raised £100 000 to get the crucial parts of our operations off the ground. We’re looking to raise more as soon as we’ve established the first product-market fit and then expand to more markets, eventually globally.

Tell us about the business model

Operationally, we’re your regular e-commerce business, currently focused (but not limited to) the EU and UK market. The women in different parts of the world are faced with very similar challenges and stories regarding breast asymmetry so the business model is scalable.

What do you do in your free time?

I’m a mum of two boys, and we also have two Pomeranians in the family! It’s busy, but it’s good. My husband and family help me balance a very fast-paced life, as getting Symmetrista off the ground and managing a law firm takes a lot of effort. In my free time, I really enjoy pilates, padel and spending time with my family.

What is the future vision?

No less than Symmetrista being a globally renowned brand! We’re also looking to launch a seductive line and sports bras, and many other products. All I can say is watch this space. My goal is to empower other women with asymmetrical breasts and I genuinely want them to feel the comfort I’m experiencing after what feels like a lifetime since designing this bra. I remember when our first prototype was ready in 2018. The first time I wore it was to a Justin Timberlake concert in Stockholm. It was still quite far from what I had envisioned but I already saw the result - it looked a bit odd when I put it on, but the effect I desired was there. My breasts looked symmetrical, it was so comfortable. I wore it until it literally fell apart.

Written by
BizAge Interview Team
August 24, 2023
Written by
August 24, 2023