By the age of 21, Milly Elvis knew the path she wanted to take. She didn’t want to be a ‘cog in a machine’ and make money for someone else. She says running her own lingerie business was ‘her calling’ in life.
France-born Milly came to the UK to study management and IT and now runs lingerie subscription service Box of Intimates from her London base.
Like most entrepreneurs, Milly noticed a gap in the market – and filled it, hoping to use pioneering technology to revolutionise the way lingerie is brought to consumers.
“Whilst studying, I worked part-time on the shop floor of a high-end lingerie retailer, La Perla,” she said. “About ninety per cent of women I came in contact with were wearing the wrong bra size and clueless about what type of bra suits them best. Being comfortable in your daily attire is so important, especially the ones closest to your skin. Would you want to wear shoes two sizes too small for you 14 hours a day, every day? Well, the same goes for bras.
“In-store, I spent most of my time bra-fitting women who would spend £500 and up on ill-fitting bras. So, in 2008, I thought that digitalising the bra-fitting process to reach more women wherever they are could be a good step towards solving that issue.”
Milly, now 31, puts her inspiration and entrepreneurial mindset down to her tenacious car-dealing father, but it was in her final year of university that made up her mind about launching a start-up business.
Milly added: “During my last year of university, I was diagnosed with a breast tumour that significantly defined the views I hold today and severely altered my decision-making process.
“Through this challenging period in my life, I knew that I was not going to be the kind of woman to sit behind a computer screen, slaving behind a multinational company making billions for someone else and being a cog in a machine for the next 35 years of my life.
“I needed to be where my coding skills could be of value, plus being able to create something that aligns with my principles: helping women embrace their strength, beauty, and sensuality from inside out, whatever shape, background and stage of their life they may be at. This simply was my calling.”
Now fully recovered and working with Virgin StartUp, Milly has launched and grown her business with the help of a Start Up Loan of £7,500. Starting with an online marketplace and digital bra-fitting tool and pivoting towards a monthly subscription box full of nice – or naughty – lingerie, beauty and lifestyle surprises.
For an accessible monthly cost, Box of Intimates offers customers a perfect-fit, pain-free lingerie shopping experience.
Milly now spends her time between London and New York as she looks to grow the business even further having recently brought Victoria’s Secret’s former Director of Technical Design on board.
She added: “I am following my passion to develop desirable systems, software and scalable digital solutions that will have the power to revolutionise the ways the lingerie industry serves its consumers, utilising the latest technologies, enabling fresher ways to shop for the right lingerie.
“We are trialling and testing various strategies to grow this venture. We are grateful for such patient and understanding customers. A few of our early subscribers are still with us today through all our ups and downs and it is amazingly heart-warming to feel their continued support.
“It’s important to test the market prior to launching any new products; you must understand your customer and speak their language: create a persona to give you guidance to start with, but keep in mind that your customer may be different than the one you initially anticipated, and that's completely okay. Lastly, be communicative. As a new company, you will inevitably make serious mistakes, but remember that sending apologies and giving a top-class customer service goes a long way.”
Find out more about how a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp can help your new business today.