Meet the Girl Who Started a Million-Dollar Bra Company in High School
Age isn't anything but a number—and Megan Grassell, the 21-year-old CEO and founder of Yellowberry, is proof. The Montana native had that "a ha!" moment at 17 while taking her little sister shopping for her first bra. After realizing that all of the options were suuuuper sexy, she decided to create an alternative. Fast-forward just four years, and Yellowberry's disrupting the industry with age-appropriate bras for pre-teens, while empowering them along the way. See how Megan went from competitive skier to (equally competitive) startup boss below.
What were you like as a teen?
I was a super competitive ski racer–and frankly I was competitive in every part of my life. I spent a lot of time at home with my parents, and spent so much time focusing on where I would one day go to college. I was always very ambitious, and I wanted to succeed in anything I put effort into. I always thought that it was my parents who put a lot of pressure on me, but when I look back I see that that’s who I am as a person. I really, really loved my high school and my teachers, but I did not have a ton of friends until my senior year, and until then I fell in love with Russian history, physics and The Office.
As an adult, what do you wish you could tell your teenage self now?
I would ask me to not be so hard on myself, and to be less critical. I'd tell myself that it’s OK to not be so intense about everything. I would share the secret that no one else is any more put together than I was, no matter how much it looked like it, and everyone is struggling to some extent.
Quarterbacks really aren’t that cool.
Be kinder to your parents.
Write thank you notes in a timelier manner.
It’s OK to ask for help sometimes.
Put yourself out there, and be confident in yourself.
It’s OK to make mistakes, and it’s important to learn how to let them roll off your shoulders and move on. It’s never the end of the world!
How exactly did you get to where you are now, professionally?
I started a company when I was a junior in high school. I took my younger sister shopping to buy her first bra, and was shocked at the incredibly overly-sexualized options available for her and girls her age. I decided that if no one was going to make normal, cute, comfy bras specifically for tweens, then I would find a way to do it myself.
There's no rule book to follow in a start-up. You have to be resourceful, scrappy, and learn as you go. I look back to where I was four years ago, and how much I’ve learned since then. Even six months ago. Even two weeks ago! I sold four bras in the first four months. I thought I was failing but I wasn’t about to give up. I launched a Kickstarter campaign to share my story and raise money. From there, I had to learn what it’s like to be the CEO and founder of a team of amazing women who are often twice my age.
What's one thing you wish had known then that you know now about having a career?
At a start-up, if you’re not willing to devote the majority of your time, resources, energy, and self into something, step away. But if you are, be prepared to work harder than you ever thought you could. Be prepared to fail and to fall on your face over and over again. You must learn to pick yourself up, dust off your knees, and get going. There is no time to overthink your mistakes or problems. Find a solution, and move on.
What work advice do you have for teens or for young people just starting out (whether that’s an internship, or actual job)?
Jump in–and into anything. I feel incredibly lucky that what I do now I love so, so much. That’s not to say it’s all been perfectly smooth sailing, but I followed my gut into something I really wanted to do. I made the opportunity for myself, and am really glad I did. Ask for what you want, don’t be afraid of hearing “no.” Think of it as “no for now.” Take on more than you think you can handle, and then rise to the occasion. Go after exactly what you want, and make it happen.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I laugh at myself sometimes when I think of the first couple months of Yellowberry because I was concerned at always being very sweet and nice no matter what, never offending anyone, overstepping or hurting someone’s feelings. But the reality is that when you are making decisions and doing something new, you’re undoubtedly going to have people along the way that are not supportive, don’t like you, or think what you’re doing is a complete waste of time.To those who disagree or think differently, oh well. Hold your head up high.