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Ann Deal

Lucie Goulet talks to the founder of lingerie add-ons brand Fashion Forms about solving women’s bra problems.

Fashion Forms is a lingerie accessories business – what inspired you to set it up?

I’d worked in a lingerie department right after graduation and had trained to be a lingerie buyer. I grew attached to lingerie and felt like I really understood it. Women spend a lot of time searching for a solution to their lingerie problems and that really resonated with me. I moved to California and started Fashion Forms in 1993. I always knew I wanted my own business and to be an entrepreneur. I was too ambitious to work on other people’s products.

Which are your best-selling products?

Some of my first products were push-up pads, but one of my best-selling pieces is the Strap Connection, which hooks the bra straps together at the back to stop them falling down. Also, the Bra Extenders are really popular, which you can use to make the bra back larger. My personal favourite however is the Water Bra. I patented this as I believe it was the first liquid insert bra. It is soft, comfortable, moves with you and it gives a really nice shape.

What new products do you have in the pipeline?

I sell to a number of different markets including Europe, Asia and the US, so we come up with a lot of different products each year. At the moment we’re still developing the Bandeau Bra, to go under bandeau tops, which we started about three years ago. We also keep reinventing the Water Bra. I’m currently working on another bra which is at the patent stage, but it’s top secret at the moment. But I can say it will answer a lot of women’s needs.

Which UK shops are on your stockist wish list?

So far we are in Selfridges, which has a wonderful display of our products, as well as Asos and also Bhs under the name Lingerie Solutions. My dream stores to be stocked in would be Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Marks & Spencer and Topshop. I have a company in Europe which I set up to enable me to get my products into Galeries Lafayette in Paris, which is another amazing place to sell your brand.

Has the recession had any impact on your business?

Right through the recession we’ve still sold incredibly well, particularly in the US market, where we are sold in Walmart and Saks Fifth Avenue. The kinds of dresses in fashion at the moment, such as sleeveless and backless, need bra solutions, and it’s easy to pick up one of our products without spending a lot of money to help make a dress look really great.

You are a big believer in corporations investing in their local communities. We run and finance a club scheme which gives youngsters something to do after school while their parents are working long hours. It feels good to give something back to the communities and everyone working at the kids’ clubs is a volunteer. I haven’t built my company up enough in Europe yet to start doing it financially here but I definitely plan to in the future.

Quickfire questions

Who is your fashion icon?
Coco Chanel for her amazing style.

Do any celebrities buy your products?
The Olsen twins, Mary Kate and Ashley, and also Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher.

Which is your favourite fashion city?
New York (pictured), Paris and London. I always love seeing Londoners in their winter boots – no other city wears so many great boots.

  • Ann Deal is founder and chief executive of lingerie add-ons brand Fashion Forms

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