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The Croatian App that Loves Your Boobs

CroatiaThey want to make the world a better and happier place for breasts, and their slogan – ‘That App that loves your boobs’ – definitely is a reassuring one. Croatian startup Sizem has created some attention internationally since launching its application which helps women find out their real bra sizes using a unique technique. Croatia Week spoke Sizem founder Ana Kolarević to find out more about the app…

Hi Ana, can you tell our readers how the Sizem app works?

Currently, when you go to www.SizemApp.com and click on “Read our tutorial” you are lead to a tutorial that teaches you how to correctly measure yourself to find your starting bra size in order to be able to buy a bra that fits you. In our F.A.Q. you’re taught how a bra is supposed to fit and how to recognize both a bad fitting and a good fitting bra.

A woman can measure herself by using a tailor’s tape, and we need 6 measurements from women. 3 are for the underbust (breathing in, breathing out, and one loose measurement while breating in) and 3 measurements of the bust in different positions without a bra on.  When you have entered your measurements into Sizem, it shows you 2 different bra sizes, one that is as tight as possible in the bra band and the other one is a suggestion that is more loose in the band. If you leave us your email address, we send you your new bra sizes in an email for reference.

We are working on a Multi Vendor E-commerce platform with a Bra Fitting Technology added to it and giving manufacturers, brands and retailers the ability to upgrade their accounts to purchase anthropometric customer data from our database of measurements so that they are enabled to make better business decisions in the Lingerie Sector. We help them gain an overview over the sizes needed in the market, similar to a Google Analytics Dashboard, just specifically for this area that we are in.

The Multi Vendor platform is thought up as Ecommerce, as a female customer, you’re being led through a series of measurements and questions and then the Sizem algorithm filters the brands and products according to the fit to your specific measurements. You can then filter depending on your tastes, colors, price ranges and so on and then purchase through one check out. But, beware, we don’t stop with bras. We’ll offer swimwear, general lingerie, bust and butt-friendly clothing and gadgets, too.

How did you come up with the idea for Sizem?

I always had problems finding bras that fit locally. I always needed a narrow band and bigger cup, even when I was skinnier. But anything below a EU 75 was nowhere to be found, so I had to resort to online shopping when Bravissimo from the UK started to have an online shop.  I got a little frustrated with the experience, as it’s often hard to find something that fits you, especially back in those times bra-fitting wasn’t so evolved and there were no accurate bra size calculators, so ordering from the UK was often a trial and error thing. I’ve also been mindful to the local market, and so I wondered why a Croatian manufacturer shut down his store in Split, knowing they only cater to a really narrow size range. I wondered, how come? How is it that they can’t grasp the immense demand for other sizes? What’s lacking, what’s going wrong there? Why is it that 90% of all women wear the wrong size, and how can I change it? I wanted to help women like myself to make the process less frustrating.

I also love the Bra Fitting movement, where every woman who knows about proper bra fit, teaches it to another one. We call it “Bravengelizing” : )

I digged in and did some research. I first thought about launching my own D+ sizes bra line, but I pivoted quickly as I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to raise financing to do that. Producing an initial bra line can get quite expensive and I pondered that if I produce software that is able to bring about some change in the industry I could get further without funding in this area. I still want to bring out a D+ bra size collection, but in the overall plans, it now comes after launching the market place as it is very financially intensive.

Sizem founder Ana Kolarević

Sizem founder Ana Kolarević

How is business going?

Well the responses we received are amazing. Since we’ve launched the landing page, we’ve gathered up more than 10.000 sets of measurements ( one set consists of 6 measurements).. We’ve seen users come back to remeasure regularly and we’ve gotten great feedback from our users. This is just a small snippet from user comments on a crocheting and knitting forum:

SizemComparing ourselves to scientific institutes that collect anthropometric data, we’re much quicker in getting data from different countries together, without marketing or major press coverage outside of tech or business media.

All these ladies are measuring themselves for one reason: they want a bra that fits and they are obviously willing to take the time it takes to read and follow the instructions and try it out. Our users are from all over the world. It starts with the US, UK, Canada, Germany, Croatia, Poland, Japan and many, many more; it’s 165 countries that we’ve got measurements and page visits from. We’re also talking to specific brands, and we’ve got a couple signed up to be vendors on our platform.

What were the main challenges you faced in starting up?

I think it took a long time to get insight into this particular industry. There isn’t too much information on the Lingerie and Textile industry on the Internet. Luckily we found a few kind souls that gave us the right pointers and believe in what we do, even from a business side. So we needed a while to be able to get enough cash together to be able to attend a few trade shows, and find the right people in the industry to give us pointers, and help us with getting to the right people for customer development.

One of the most critical one is funding. Coming out of unemployment and chronic illness it’s been tough to bootstrap, meaning it takes way too long to get certain things going. But we’re working on that part, so hopefully we will be able to speed up the development.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Even though I’m a fan of repetition and routine, there is rarely a “typical day” if you try to start a business. Right now, I’m in Leipzig after having attended an industry specific trade show while talking to brands and distributors for Lingerie, so it was a highly untypical day.

Croatia is renowned for being a difficult place to start a business, do you have any advice for keen entrepreneurs in Croatia wanting to start something?

I dislike giving unsolicited advice, so I think everyone has the freedom to decide what is best for them. If that is opening a company in Croatia with all its hardships and headwalling, then so be it. We’re in the EU now, so it’s gotten easier to open up companies in the EU so I think that will make it easier for startups but not for local small businesses. On the other side it’s just sad how the politicians aren’t bring about real reforms and shooting themselves in the foot and making the lives of Croatians harder than necessary.

Ana with Sizem's boob and bra mathematician Vlatka Mihavec

Ana with Sizem’s boob and bra mathematician Vlatka Mihavec

Which part of Croatia are you from?

I was born in Germany and that’s where I grew up (Stuttgart) and moved back to Croatia in 2008. I’ve since then more or less lived in Zagreb, to cut the story short. My mother comes from a small, rural  and idyllic village named “Rasno” close to Široki Brijeg in Hercegovina and my father comes from Viškovci, a small village close to Đakovo in Slavonia. I see myself as a mixture of these places and roots and I find myself drawn to both places with their history and their own charms, and it does come through in my Croatian accent sometimes. I try to visit both places and family there as often as I can.

What is your favourite place in Croatia?

I love Slavonia in the fall and I love the Adriatic Sea and its islands in early summer when there aren’t as many tourists yet. Slavonia’s got it’s own charm with the old trees, the typical Slavonian houses and the canaled streets, it sort of makes me wonder how my ancestors used to live there and how it must have looked like. It’s hard to pick as there are so many places I love. I think the best place is the old road from Hercegovina to Makarska over Vrgorac. As “gastarbeiter” kids coming over for the holidays every summer, we’d anticipate going to the sea from Hercegovina and as soon we’d  pass the hills and the panoramic view over the riviera opens up above Makarska, we’d cheer out of joy. I still do today when I see the sea : )

How do like to relax away from work?

Usually, I relax by either watching a good series, music and or going to concerts. Unfortunately most of the artists I listen to rarely give concerts in Zagreb, so I have a serious shortage on that end. I did take off 2 weeks before christmas, as I have focussed on Sizem all year long and just needed that.

What are your plans for the next 12-18 months for Sizem?

Grow the number of women that have learned about proper bra fit! Seriously, the more measurements we have, the better for us and the end consumer. I want to have Sizem out on the market in this period and I want to have started to work on my own D+ bra and clothing line.

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