The Right Fit For Every Woman
Cynthia Surrisi and Marty Woodward say
not all bra manufacturers use the same
sizing; a 36 B in one brand may be a 38 C
Inspired in part by MidWeek columnist Katie Young’s article on bras last summer, Cynthia Surrisi and Marty Woodward went from talk to action in eight months to open a custom-fit bra shop, Brava Bras.
Surrisi and Woodward are career-oriented women and longtime friends. They met at work when Surrisi, an employment law attorney, helped Woodward, who was the vice president of Pacific Asia Affairs for Continental Airlines.
“Cynthia’s the kind of person that I knew we’re going to be friends for the rest of our lives,” says Woodward. “Fate kept us in business together.” Determined to help other women find the most basic of needs — a comfortable, supportive bra — they put their friendship and expertise together to solve an unspoken problem.
“It’s a pretty accepted statistic that 75 or 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra,” says Surrisi.
Surrisi had breast surgery over 10 years ago and as a result needed a better bra without underwires. She decided to open a store in Hawaii because she couldn’t find a custom-fit bra shop like the one she used to go to in Minnesota. Surrisi worked for free, and learned as much as she could from the kind and highly trained bra shop woman in Minnesota.
Woodward, a human resources director for Norwegian Cruise Lines and a former flight attendant, had many bra-gone-wrong episodes of her own.
“I wore those perky underwire bras,” says Woodward. “If you’ve ever worn one, you know the wire comes out eventually. When people on the flight gave me strange looks, I’d look down and there my underwire was sticking out.”
Woodward had training by bra manufacturers too.
As owners of the bra shop, Surrisi and Woodward cater to women with all kinds of needs. They have bras for women who have had breast surgery, for example, or who are smallbreasted or large-breasted. There are strapless bras for brides, special bras for pregnant and nursing mothers.
Surrisi and Woodward both do fittings, yet each has her specialties. Woodward focuses on the large breasted, while Surrisi focuses on small-breasted women. Surrisi meets the designers personally, and seeks out female designers because she feels they produce a better product.
The 800-square-foot Kapiolani Boulevard shop has a full-time seamstress to help make any needed alterations. Brava Bras does five measurements to help find the perfect bra for the customer. After the measurements are complete, clients try on the suggested bras in a spacious fitting room. The entire experience can take 45 minutes to an hour, and that includes taking time for tea and crumpets. Conducting fittings for a group of girlfriends is also popular.
“We ask our customers to come in wearing their favorite, best-fitting bra, and most women say, it’s something they don’t want others to see because it’s worn so much,” reveals Surrisi. “The clients are so happy they’ve found a good bra, that they wear it directly from the fitting, out of the store. Then they become totally loyal customers.”
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