The Business of Bras with Kate Kikano

Panache, Hot Milk, Rock Candy, Bra, Shopping, Dubai, TKD, Lingerie, Time Out Award, Business, Bra, Bigger Bust, Maternity, Nursing

Pregnancy is a time of change, and when you look at statistics; up to 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra, you need all the support you can get! When it comes to the best maternity bras and the best nursing bras the cup runneth over with choices at TKD Lingerie, and I’m not the only one who thinks so, they’ve just won the 2017 Time Out Kids Award for best maternity store.

Panache, Hot Milk, Rock Candy, Bra, Shopping, Dubai, TKD, Lingerie, Time Out Award, Business, Bra, Bigger Bust, Maternity, Nursing

I spent an afternoon with Kate Kikano, Managing Director, TKD Lingerie to hear how she turned one stressful and fruitless mission to the mall into an award-winning business catering for women with a bigger bust in the UAE and Bahrain. Read on for my top three picks for the best nursing and maternity bras, how to go about shopping for them and how it’s impossible to be in the wrong sized bra with TKD’s Maternity Home Fitting service!

Panache, Hot Milk, Rock Candy, Bra, Shopping, Dubai, TKD, Lingerie, Time Out Award, Business, Bra, Bigger Bust, Maternity, Nursing
Comfort should be at the top of your nursing bra must list during the first four to six weeks after having baby. Look out for nursing bras in soft fabrics. Look for good support as breasts filled with milk are fuller (and heavier), and also prevents sagging breasts after baby graduates from breastfeeding. Coverage is especially appreciate this after around six weeks. Bras with molded cups to help disguise nursing pads and nipples that may be a bit larger than before. Finally, make it easy. The best nursing bras make it seamless to breastfeed with wide straps, removable pads, no underwire and clips for easy feeding.

Full Name: Kate Kikano

Business Title: Managing Director, TKD Lingerie

What year did the business start?

I started writing a business plan when pregnant with my daughter back in 2010, and I opened the doors to TKD in Dubai in March 2012 when she was 16 months old. Fantastically, we had a customer already there waiting for the store to open that first morning! In June 2016, our second boutique opened in Al Aali Mall, Bahrain.

Why did you start the business?

I had struggled to buy bras in my size in the GCC for a long time and used to wait until I was back in the UK to purchase my lingerie. Obviously, my size was changing when pregnant. So, at around eight months and on very swollen ankles I decided to hit the malls looking for nursing bras. Five malls and some pretty negative experiences later, my ankles had doubled in size, and I was no closer to finding a bra that fits. I ordered a few nursing styles online but the sizing varied considerably, and only 1 out of the four bras fitted correctly.

TKD Lingerie was created to offer women in the GCC the great lingerie buying experience they deserved but which was hard to find in the region. In addition to the award winning maternity & nursing range, at TKD we carefully select styles to cover your whole lingerie wardrobe – whether you are looking for everyday bras, a special occasion such as Basques & strapless styles, sports or bra-sized swimwear. We carry over 100 sizes in 28-46 backs and D-K cups (UK sizing).

Panache, Hot Milk, Rock Candy, Bra, Shopping, Dubai, TKD, Lingerie, Time Out Award, Business, Bra, Bigger Bust, Maternity, Nursing
The Rock Candy Seamless Maternity/ Nursing Bra is super soft and gives you a great shape with contoured foam cups. I like to describe the fit as almost being like sports bra or crop top as it has a full, double layered side sling to maximize lift and support. Ideal from conception, through your pregnancy and post, this bra will grow with you to accommodate your changing bust.

Who is your target market and why are they so important to reach? 

Every woman deserves beautiful underwear that supports and enhances her natural shape. She deserves to look and feel great.

Too often women are either sold the wrong size bra or told that her size isn’t available. An astonishing 80% wear the wrong size today because they are not getting the right fitting advice. The first time you wear a correctly fitting bra is an “A-HA” moment! We have so many women just leave their old bras with us as they can’t bear to put them back on!

At TKD we focus on D+ women as there is a real lack of options for her in this region. However, we frequently advise smaller busted women on which cuts and styles of bras would work well with their breast shapes too. You also wouldn’t believe the amount of “originally” B, C and A cup women we fit every day in to D cup and above who are astounded that they have been wearing the wrong size for so long. So it doesn’t matter your bra size we are always happy to offer a complimentary lingerie consultation.

Panache, Hot Milk, Rock Candy, Bra, Shopping, Dubai, TKD, Lingerie, Time Out Award, Business, Bra, Bigger Bust, Maternity, Nursing
This Hot Milk Show Off Nursing Bra is a best seller because of it’s silky soft microfibre and a subtle lace detailing. It’s a non-wired soft cup bra with an A frame support for the ultimate support and a modesty cover. It’s 100% cotton lined and there are wider straps on the larger cups for added strength

Share 3 of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt so far in business.

  1. Surround yourself with the right people. We have a great team at TKD, who care about the customer and I believe this shows in all we do. Seek out peers – fellow entrepreneurs and mentors, to share ideas and challenges with. I always come away full of renewed energy and purpose after time spent with other small business owners.
  2. It takes common sense (and a good accountant!) I once gatecrashed the entrepreneurship club of a top business school. I don’t know what magic words of wisdom I was expecting, but business ideas with a solid, well-researched plan were the ones that shone through. Oh and get yourself a good accountant from the start – it will save you and the auditor a lot of headaches down the line!
  3. Treat each customer who enters your business as a guest to your home – without these wonderful people; your business would not exist!

Who do you admire or look up to in business?

Sarah Tremellen, MBE, the founder of Bravissimo. She championed D+ women, and I admire that 20 years on she has stayed true to the guiding principles on which she founded her business.

What is your one piece of advice to those looking to start a business in your same industry?

Know your products and how they fit, but most importantly take care of your customers. I am much more concerned about the feedback from the women who shop with us than setting sales targets. We also care about sharing our success with our customers and were recently able to reduce 90% of our prices by 22%.

Panache, Hot Milk, Rock Candy, Bra, Shopping, Dubai, TKD, Lingerie, Time Out Award, Business, Bra, Bigger Bust, Maternity, Nursing
The Elenor Nursing Bra is new to the Panache Lingerie Core collection, with a moulded spacer cup to create a natural shape whilst giving a secure and comfortable fit, essential whilst nursing. Complete with feeding clasp on the apex for easy and efficient breast-feeding, with inner “A” frame for support & discretion plus J-Hook slider to transform into racerback if additional support is required.

What is a quote you live by?

There is a spiritual aspect to our lives – when we give; we receive – when a business does something good for somebody, that somebody feels good about them!
Ben of Ben & Jerry’s

Panache, Hot Milk, Rock Candy, Bra, Shopping, Dubai, TKD, Lingerie, Time Out Award, Business, Bra, Bigger Bust, Maternity, Nursing

What’s next? Share your plans for the business in the future.

We recently launched our Maternity Home Fitting service to take away the stress of getting out and about in the hot weather with your new baby. We’ve had requests from across the Middle East, Africa and Asia to open new stores. We’re also looking at selling online, but wherever we go next, our challenge is to ensure we continue to offer a great experience for the women who visit us and to go the extra mile to find her perfect fit.

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