As two women who love intimate apparel, Deean Yeoh and Jinrong “Agnes” Zhan know how hard it is to find the perfect bra with the perfect fit.
When they first came up with the idea for Amour Caché, they surveyed hundreds of individuals and discovered that the struggle to find the perfect bra wasn’t so idiosyncratic; it encompassed women who had been wearing ill-fitting bras for years, to women who had battled breast cancer and found few options, post-recovery.
Your Name: Deean Yeoh & Jinrong “Agnes” Zhan
Business Name: Amour Caché
Title: Deean – CEO & Co-Founder, Agnes – CFO & Co-Founder
Education: Boston University, Questrom School of Business, Class of 2018
Age: Deean – 23, Agnes – 25
Location: New York, NY
(Fempreneur) Tell us about your journey as female entrepreneurs. How did you start your business?
(Amour Caché) We met while attending Boston University and found a shared passion for entrepreneurship, fashion, and specifically lingerie. We decided to start an intimate apparel brand when Agnes found a lump in her breast. We realized, then, that there weren’t many products in the market catered to women who had undergone mastectomies or lumpectomies, and still wanted to feel beautiful with lingerie. As a result, the idea for Amour Caché was born!
Now, we use not only our intimate apparel pieces, but L’AMOURZINE – Amour Caché’s online magazine, to cultivate a warm and welcoming community for all women in all their walks of life. Through the stories we share on L’AMOURZINE, we hope to expand the brand’s community even further than our current scope of consumers.
Related: Book your strategy session to build your business as a female entrepreneur.
(Fempreneur) Describe your most recent business success and tell us about your next big goal. What’s up next?
(Amour Caché) We exceeded our Month 1 sales goal within 2 weeks of pre-sales. We’re currently developing 3 more styles (a full coverage bra that can be used by breast cancer survivors), a sexy everyday balconette bra, and a longline bra. Those are set to launch early 2021!
(Fempreneur) How would you define success?
(Deean) Turning your passion into a business because then the byproduct of honing your passion is strengthening your business – and vice versa.
(Agnes) The way I define success in business is that I’m building something that could operate on its own with minimum guidance. As an individual, success is that I am discovering and learning something new every day.
(Fempreneur) Give us the ‘inside scoop’ – what does a day in your business life look like?
(Deean) My days are pretty heterogenous, but I finish every night by planning my activities for the following day so I hit the ground running. Typically: Wake up, take a shower, have breakfast while answering emails, chat with Agnes about pending Amour Caché decisions.
(Agnes) It really depends on what problems we are currently facing and it’s different from day to day. The only constant is to check my TO-DO list, emails, and have a call with Deean.
(Fempreneur) What types of customers are in your business ‘pink book’ and who are you looking to connect with?
(Amour Caché) People of all walks of life who love intimate apparel. Our goal is to create a new breed of inclusive intimate apparel; one that includes everyone, particularly marginalized people who haven’t been adequately catered to by the traditional intimate apparel industry (small chested women, petite women, full-figured women, breast cancer survivors, transwomen).
(Fempreneur) If you were not doing this job, what is your plan B? Are you still chasing your dream job?
(Deean) I’d say this is my dream job as I get to design and challenge myself creatively while also exercising my forecasting and analytical skills. In the future, I’d love to get an MBA.
(Agnes) If I was doing another job, I’d be thinking about the one day I could run my own business! This is my dream job. I like problem-solving, and where could more problems exist than in a start-up?
(Fempreneur) Is owning your own business as glamorous as it sounds?
(Deean) My parents own their own business. So growing up I saw the nitty-gritty of entrepreneurship, and never considered the job to be glamorous. It’s about hard work and leadership.
(Agnes) It’s more of a pressure than being glamorous.
There are years of waiting before anything big happens. You are the reason why your business is successful or you are the reason why it fails.
(Fempreneur) What inspired you to start your own business?
(Deean) Agnes and I used to love visiting lingerie stores when we traveled together! There was something really fulfilling about getting a well-fitted bra. For me, personally, as someone who loves design and tailoring, I started studying which bra cuts fit well, which fabrics were comfortable or scratchy. When we realized that there were large pockets of people who weren’t being catered to, we were empowered to start a company that included them.
(Agnes) Also a desire for control. We wanted to control the decisions made in a company, the income you have, your future. Owning your own business is the only way to do that independently.
(Fempreneur) What made you decide to take the leap?
(Deean) We actually pursued the business 3 years ago and ran into problems with manufacturing. We felt really defeated and we didn’t talk to anyone about the business for years. In the Winter of 2019, Emily Ratajowski was interviewed on Ashley Graham’s Pretty Big Deal Podcast. She discussed why she started her own business and how involved she was in the process. I was really inspired and shared the podcast with Agnes. That night, for the first time in years, we had a 3 hour long discussion on how we would strategically restart Amour Caché. We both happened to be in the right frame of mind to come to terms with the past and have the courage to forge ahead. I think about that day a lot.
(Fempreneur) Where did you get your education? Tell us about this experience.
(Amour Caché) We met on Orientation Day at Boston University in the Fall of 2014 and realized our residence halls were right across the road from one another. We’ve been best friends since! At BU we had several of our own interests: Agnes in Operations and Technology and Deean in Finance and Marketing. However, we shared a common interest in fashion. We became Co-Creative Directors of the Fashion and Retail Association at our business school and that’s where we learned the foundations of planning, mentorship, and organizational leadership.
(Fempreneur) What are your tips for setting yourself apart in the workplace?
(Deean) Push yourself to connect with people you find intimidating. Whether that’s an executive at your company or a new influencer that can help propel your business. Asking good questions and being naturally inquisitive will set you apart.
(Agnes) Consider the firm you are in as your own firm because it will help you to think a few steps ahead of other people.
(Fempreneur) How do you achieve work/ life balance? How do you unplug?
(Deean) I love painting and photography. I’m lucky to love my job; oftentimes even when I’m “unplugged” I’ll find myself doodling bra designs or hunting for fabrics.
(Agnes) I would go workout. It’s hard to think about anything else except the actual weight that is on your body.
(Fempreneur) Where do you manufacture your products? How did you source the correct manufacturer?
(Amour Caché) Our intimate apparel is designed in New York and manufactured in Shanghai. Finding a manufacturer was very difficult because we wanted to be a sustainable business that isn’t wasteful of resources, which means smaller production batches, rigorous inspection, and high-quality fabrics. Our advice is to work with a partner who understands your needs and believes in your growth (which may mean them having to lower their MOQ significantly for you at first).
Choose a manufacturer that is an expert in your field and never take their word for their expertise. Ask for samples, visit their factory, and talk to their production managers. After all, these people are your business partners and you want to know who you’re getting into bed with.
We also pride ourselves on the raw materials we select. Unlike many intimate apparel companies, we’ve sourced every single element of our garments ourselves. We have strong relationships with our suppliers and respect them tremendously for supporting our growing business.
(Fempreneur) What are your plans for expansion?
(Amour Caché) We hope to grow ourselves as an independent e-commerce brand for the first 1-3 years, and become a household name during that time. Once we achieve that status we’d love to partner with retailers and boutiques to expand our market share.
(Fempreneur) What books do you find inspiring for building your business as a female entrepreneur?
(Deean) Currently, “How to Lead” by David Rubenstein. He’s my all-time favorite journalist.
(Agnes) Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
(Fempreneur) How do you market your business?
(Amour Caché) Currently through Instagram, SEO, Google Ads, and word-of-mouth. We also market our brand’s mission, vision, and positioning through L’AMOURZINE. By gaining readership around topics that are meaningful to our brand, like stories and experiences from breast cancer survivors, we hope to cultivate a community that invests in our product and in us.
Related: The Public Relations Academy membership is a “done-with-you” opportunity. It includes a monthly PR plan, pitch templates and influence building strategy. You could apply our strategy to your own business, build your personal brand as an industry influencer, or use it for your clients publicity.
(Fempreneur) Can you offer any advice for new graduates looking for a job or new entrepreneurs?
(Deean) Find an industry you’re passionate about, hone your craft, and learn everything you can about the industry. Network aggressively and don’t be afraid to speak highly of your own accolades and accomplishments; create a strong portfolio and know your own resume like the back of your hand.
(Agnes) Understand yourself better before you decide what will be the career path of your life. If you are not sure what you like, talk to someone that is doing the job, to find out if you would want to be that person one day.
Join the Public Relations Academy to take your creative ideas and put them into a systematic plan to help you deliver the content you need to succeed.