My lightbulb moment: Lingerie innovator Alice Holden reveals inspiration behind her brand

My lightbulb moment: Lingerie innovator Alice Holden reveals inspiration behind her brand

  • Alice Holden, 28, who lives in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, co‑founded Attollo
  • She was inspired by struggles to find well-fitting, beautiful bras for larger bust
  • Lingerie label has their own fit space in London and do bra fittings by video 

In 2017, Alice Holden, 28, co‑founded lingerie label Attollo, specialising in bras with a small band and large cup size. She lives in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, with her fiancé, a project manager for an IT consultancy.

I met my co-founder, Fleurette Mulcahy, when we were studying geography at King’s College, London — we bonded over the problems of having a larger bust and narrow back. Both of us were cup size D+ by the age of 14, so we grew up having to wear matronly, frumpy bras.

By the time we were 20, and at sizes 28FF (Fleurette) and 30GG (me), we had explored every brand and found none provided well-fitting, beautiful bras.

Alice Holden, 28, (pictured) who lives in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, revealed the inspiration behind her lingerie brand 

In April 2013, during our second year at university, we took the plunge and founded Attollo. In Latin, attollo means, ‘I lift up, I raise, I excite’, which is everything we want our bras to do.

Neither Fleurette nor I had studied design or business, so we wrote to inspirational business owners, from The White Company’s Chrissie Rucker to Innocent Drinks’ Richard Reed, asking them to mentor us. It was cheeky, but they said yes. Later, we were runners-up in the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards. They’ve supported us for seven years now.

It took four years of product development, going round factories in four countries, to get the line off the ground.

We’d stand with our hands under our boobs saying: ‘They can look this magnificent when we have our hands like this, so we need to find a way for a bra to do that.’

We designed our own wire, as well as fabrics that were tailored for our size range (28-36 D-HH).

Sizing up:

Sizing up:

We also trained as fitters at big-name retailers — each working part-time for eight months — and saw the depressing nature of High Street bra shopping. One customer came out in hives, she was so stressed by the environment.

Seeing our first bras and knickers come off the production line was so exciting. We got press coverage and Jenni Murray invited us on to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

We wanted to offer women a more personal shopping experience, so we opened our own London fit space and also began doing bra fittings by video. When lockdown happened, we were ready.

Today, we offer fittings six days a week worldwide via FaceTime, WhatsApp and Zoom. All customers have a free fit check, post-purchase, to ensure the bra is perfect.

Our promise to women is that we will accentuate your curves and help you feel like the best version of yourself.