Ali Cudby :: America’s #1 Bra Coach

Ali Cudby, author or Busted!

Ali and I have known each other since my freshman year of college when I was going through sorority rush at the U Penn.  She’s an expert on a topic that women discuss often…our boobs!   Did you know that it’s very likely that your bra isn’t the right size for you?  Now you tell me…

What’s the biggest complaint women have about their boobs post-kids?

The biggest complaint is the change in shape and composition. Most specifically, many women lose volume on the top half of their breast. I can tell them about studies showing that breasts don’t sag after breastfeeding, but it’s not about facts – it’s about emotions and the way women see their own bodies.

I recall that you and I were very different in college….as it pertains to bra size. 🙂 What drew you to the topic of bras?

In my early 30s, on a trip to England, I had what can only be described as a transformational moment, when I first found a bra that fit. It changed how I saw my body and ultimately how I felt in my skin. What started as a really awesome shopping trip became a passion.  Once I got home, I listened to other women – of every size – share their own challenges finding bras that fit. No matter what the bra size, from AAA to N-cup, a woman has a right to look and feel amazing in the clothing that’s closest to her body. How a woman feels in her bra and how she feels about her body are closely linked, and all too often that feeling is negative. Understanding how a bra should fit makes shopping a rewarding and (dare I say it) uplifting experience! I love that my job is all about helping women look and feel amazing, every day.

What did you study/who did you talk to to become an expert in this topic?
Suffice it to say, Penn’s curriculum is vast, but even they don’t offer a course on bra fitting! My education was a combination of reading books and articles on the topic, spending countless hours studying with some of the best professionals in the business, and doing lots and lots of fittings with patient, generous women of every possible body type. Ultimately, I designed my own trademarked methodology for helping women find bras that fit.

Do men find this topic of interest? Certainly they’ve got a vested interest!
Men find the topic fascinating and not just because their eyes light up at the first mention of breasts (although, to be fair, I get some of that, too). A lot of men genuinely want to help the women in their lives look and feel better. I get a lot of questions from men with teenage daughters, especially divorced men, who may not have a woman to advise them when their daughters hit puberty. I have been touched by the numerous men who have sought me out for guidance after their wives have lost breasts to cancer. Sometimes men want advice for buying lingerie to spice things up at home.

Secrets in Lace at the Lingerie Fashion Week, August 2013

Secrets in Lace at the Lingerie Fashion Week, August 2013

Do smaller-breasted women have as many bra fitting complaints as larger-breasted women?

Small busted women absolutely have as many complaints as their big busted sisters. The small busted are often told they don’t need to wear a bra, which can make many feel like they are somehow lacking as women overall. Or they are told to shop in the pre-teen department for bras – not an ego booster, either. Of course, there are no rules regarding how women feel about their bodies. Some small busted women LOVE being able to swing free. It’s all a matter of personal choice…I tend to hear more from the women who want better solutions. Happily, I have them!

What should I look for in a good bra? Is it possible to buy good quality bras at WalMart and Target?
A quality bra can be found at a variety of price points. Prices go up as brands improve fabric choices (good lace is expensive!) spend more on design and engineering, manufacture in more expensive countries, and do more work to fit all the sizes vs. sizing one and scaling up and down to fit the others. A high end bra can be made up of as many as 60 individual components, and it’s a complex piece of construction. That said, the best thing anyone can do for their bra to make them last is take good care of them. Proper care is the key to protecting your investment – at any price point.

Do the women at Victoria Secret’s really know how to find me the right-sized bra?
My methodology for fit is different from Victoria’s Secret.

In addition to consumers, you work closely with the industry, providing feedback to manufacturers and retailers. How did you align yourself with the industry insiders?
My business aims to reduce the awful statistic that 8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong bra size, so working with retailers and manufacturers has been a no-brainer for me. I credit my education at Penn and Wharton for giving me a lot of the skills I needed to think strategically about areas where I could add value, and then execute. My shining personality and stellar wit probably also help.

What’s been most surprising about your work in this space?
When I started my research on the industry it didn’t occur to me that small busted women would have complaints about their bras. I was myopic, based on my own experience. It just goes to show that you can’t have preconceived notions about an industry. In my case, it opened up a vast new frontier of women who were seeking solutions.

Talk to me about Journey Grrrl Publishing. How did you find them? How has the publishing experience been?
The relationship with Journey Grrrl was truly a story of being in the right place at the right time. I hadn’t really considered writing a book, and was still finding my place in the industry. One weekend, I went to away for a retreat and started chatting with a woman who, no surprise, was frustrated with her bra. I insisted there was a great bra out there for her – she didn’t believe me! That night, I took her to the store and found her a fabulous bra in a size she had never imagined. At the end of the weekend she handed me her business card. She was the founder of Journey Grrrl and though my advice would make a terrific book.

What do you recommend for people who want to publish their expertise?
Don’t reinvent the wheel! Most would-be authors get stuck in the enormity of the task and the terrifying, blinking of the cursor on a blank page. There are great processes and programs out there for writing books – find one that works for you. Writing a book is hard! Do what you can to make it easier.

You’ve done a great job promoting your book! Do you work with a PR agency or have you pitched yourself?
It’s all me! I keep thinking about hiring a PR agency – maybe one day.

Ali Cudby, author of Busted, The Fab Foundations® Guide to Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic

What’s your advice for people pitching themselves to local/regional/national publications?
Learn people’s names, be friendly, and be pleasantly – and appropriately – persistent.

In addition to your book BUSTED, what other projects are you working on?
What business lines/extensions are you developing from this?
This winter I launched the FabFit Academy, an online bra fit training and certification program. The response has been amazing!! In a few short months, I’ve taught people all over the world, and just certified the customer service team at Bare Necessities, one of the largest lingerie e-tailers. So far, I’ve been targeting professionals in lingerie, but given the success, I’ll be branching out soon. I’ll even be offering some consumer-based classes, hopefully soon!

Another exciting bit of business is that Busted! will be published in Spanish this Fall. In fact, I wrote an article for the Penn Gazette a while back. I got a phone call from a fellow alum who is, amazingly, a book publisher and bra manufacturer in Mexico. He bought the Spanish language rights to the book! You never know when a Penn connection will lead to good things.

What key skills collegiate or MBA skills do you apply in your business today?
I was a philosophy major, which generally prompts a crack about making a living as a philosopher. In reality, I use my skills from that major all the time. In essence, my work IS a philosophy! Making the philosophy into a business was all about the skills I learned at Wharton. There are not a lot of people who make a living as a bra fit expert. I learned so much from my entrepreneurial management classes! It was Ian MacMillan who taught me when you find a problem people are experiencing, you’ve found a business opportunity.

Busted!  The Fab Foundations Guide to Bras that Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic

What piece of advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?
In addition to the key lessons learned at Wharton, I tell people, at the end of the day, all business decisions are about people. All business decisions are emotional to some extent. Don’t lose sight of the human factor.

You’ve been very involved with The Trustees Council of Penn Women. What is this group and why is it important to you?

TCPW is a group of dedicated Alumnae who work to improve the lives of women across Penn. We work on all kinds of women-centric issues, ranging for undergrads, grad students, faculty and staff. We look at everything from the advancement of women faculty to equity in athletics. Even at institutions as great as Penn, there’s room for improvement and without gentle pressure it’s too easy to accept the status quo. We give that pressure a face and a name in order to coalesce behind opportunities to move the school forward.


About meesh

Meesh has a passion for people, creative projects, and technology. She enjoys painting furniture back to life, gardening, playing with her kids, and connecting people.