Imagine a bra that was engineered to be comfortable.
Leen Al Taher co-founded House of Anesi, a lingerie-tech startup that designs bras that are engineered to do just that. It's the first bra that actually adapts to your breast size!
Featured in TeenVogue, GLAMOUR, and Refinery29 Leen and her co-founders believe that every woman has the right to start her day brimming with confidence and are on a mission to disrupt the lingerie industry.
Place your order by October 15th using the special code "stilobox" at checkout for 10% off here.
WHAT KIND OF PROBLEM IS YOUR COMPANY SOLVING?
Do you notice how different your bra feels everyday? One day, the fit is perfect and the next is a struggle. This is the problem that women face every day, as boobs are constantly fluctuating in size and shape. At House of Aneis, we believe it is up to us to make a bra that fluctuates with it! By using innovative design, technical fabrics and aerospace engineering we created the Anesi Bra. A bra that is able to adapt to breast size changes up to 2 cup and 2 band sizes, reduce back pain, eliminate red shoulder marks, and prevent underboob sweat.
WHAT DID THOSE FIRST STEPS LOOK/FEEL LIKE? (FOR EXAMPLE: THE FIRST 6 MONTHS)
House of Anesi was born 3 years ago at a Re-Engineering Fashion Competition hosted by Ryerson University. We were challenged to create an innovative product that would disrupt the fashion industry using engineering fundamentals. My team and I decided to tackle the bra design, creating a bra that would adapt to a woman's breast size changes, be comfortable and supportive. We ended up winning the competition and could not let go of why there is not a bra on the market that adapts to a women’s breast size changes!
We were set on a mission to create a change in the lingerie industry.
Initially we were so caught up with tackling the problems with a “robotic”, “super futuristic” approach - from Nitinol wires to magnetic powder, and everything in between. When none of that worked, we realized that is not what the end consumer needed, nor wanted. Using technology and engineering in a garment so personal needed to be passive. When we made that breakthrough in the first 6 months, it felt like a massive stepping stone.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTION TO THE SUCCESS YOU'VE HAD THUS FAR?
The people closest to me have definitely been my greatest success contributors!
My co-founders, Stephania Stefanakou and Jacob John, who started this journey with me. Not only have I learnt so much from them in the business world, but they have also played a fundamental role in helping me grow as an individual and to learn from my mistakes. We started this mission in 2015, and you can only imagine all the obstacles we’ve faced until today. Not only have we grown closer as a team, but we are also finally one step closer to making our mission a reality.
That being said, my family and friends, who have been there for me through thick and thin, are also some of my biggest success contributors. Being a part of a start-up comes with so much emotional turmoil, and I can’t thank them enough for having my back and supporting all my crazy ideas! They’ve been the shoulder I could lean on and my cheer leaders when I needed a push.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE FAILURE? WHAT LESSONS DID YOU LEARN?
Oh where do I start….
This one is a personal favorite. A couple months ago I was posting a blog on the Anesi website, and I wanted to increase the font size. Simple enough, right? I did some research and found a way to do it by changing the code, and as I was following it step by step, midway through – the Anesi website just went down ……
I am not exaggerating, the whole website went down! I tried restoring it, called the support line, asked my friends, called the support line again, stayed awake the WHOLE night reading about code fixes, and nothing for a couple of days. I felt horrible. It was a massive burden that I was carrying and felt like I was responsible for fixing it on my own. Then I decided to reach out to our website developer - my savior. He had a copy of the code saved and we were finally able to bring it live again!
Moral of the story: 1) Don’t be afraid to ask for help! 2) Always, I mean always, save a copy of your code before editing it (or just back your work up in general)!
HOW DO YOU DEFINE LEADERSHIP? OR, WHAT DOES BEING A LEADER MEAN TO YOU?
To me, being a leader is a mindset that is very linked to emotional intelligence. It’s simply being able to empower people towards reaching a goal.
DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR? HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT ACQUIRING ONE?
Yes I do! I have multiple mentors who help me grow and I can alway go to for advice.
I would say, find someone with experience in an industry you want to learn about and just ask for help. Also, always look in your network, one of my mentors that helped me a ton throughout my journey is an old friend of mine.
WHAT SHOULD WOMEN BE DOING MORE OF TO FOSTER LEADERSHIP SKILLS?
To keep it short and simple:
Work on your communication skills - it’s so critical in a leadership position
Be a team player
Build networks and support other women you know what they say: “Empowered women, Empower Women”
Read read read. Whether it’s books or articles. I personally love using Flipboard.
Have a mentor or someone you can go to for advice
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE FEELING "OVERWHELMED"?
Talking to a friend is probably the first thing I do, I am the type of person that overthinks every little step and talking to a friend gives me an outside perspective that always calms me down. If that does not work, I like to write down everything I have to do on a piece of paper, then break every task down to its core, it really helps me focus on important things whilst keeping me in check with what else I have to do and how much effort it will take. Another approach I go to sometimes is going for a walk or coloring, as cheesy as it sounds, it works!
My advice is try things out and find out what works best for you. Be gentle and kind to yourself, self care is very important and I learnt that the hard way!
WHAT IS ONE QUOTE YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE BY?
“If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re doing it wrong.” –Casey Neistat
WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW?
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.
I also highly recommend:
- The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
- Her Big Idea: The Next Generation of Entrepreneurs by Haley Hoffman Smith
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson
- Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
Have you ever felt imposter syndrome, and how did you combat it?
This is a very interesting question, and it is actually something that often crosses my mind. There are certain days when I wake up thinking “who have I become? Am I actually capable of doing this or am I just putting up a front?” When I’m sitting in a meeting and I have to lead my team, it just all feels so surreal, like I’m pretending to be someone I am not. But now I realize, that is the beauty of evolving.
It is human nature to grow everyday, and surrounding yourself with amazing people is how you learn and grow. If you do not know how to do something, observe those around and listen to what is going on in the industry. One by one, day by day, you will know enough and have your own thoughts about it. Combating the imposter syndrome is something that happens dynamically, it is that point when you stop pretending to be a leader and accept that you really are one!
IF YOU HAD ONE TIP OR LIFE ADVICE, OR MANTRA TO SHARE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Don’t over think! Just do it.
ANY THING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO INCLUDE?
There will be some many moments in your life when you will doubt yourself and not know what you are truly capable of. Take it from me, i’ve been down that road. If you are willing to try and put yourself out there, then you can do whatever you set your mind to. Self doubt is what stops most people from following their dreams, so my advice would be to stop doubting.