Alumni in Business: Changing the world of lingerie with a physics degree
"If I think about what kind of people I admire, it's entrepreneurs. The idea that you can start something from scratch and be responsible for everything, I've always found that very inspiring." Since 2011, Floor van de Pavert (Physics, 2004 and Experimental Physics, 2006) has been an entrepreneur herself. Five years ago, she founded SuperBra, a chain of lingerie shops with which she wants to spark a bra revolution. Because there are many things that have be improved in the world of lingerie.
Do physics and running a lingerie shop have anything to do with each other? "Not exactly," says Floor. But it is a fact that the one could not exist without the other. "After my studies I did a lot of freelance work in the field of quantum computing. That is how I earned the money to start SuperBra; opening your own shop requires a substantial investment. I still occasionally do a job for the European Commission, but I have noticed that focus is very important. Ideally, I would like to dedicate my time and energy full-time on SuperBra."
From quantum computing to lingerie land
When Floor worked for the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM), she encountered a lot of start-ups. She started her first own company, Single Quantum, in 2011 and later went freelance in the field of quantum computing. Playing with the idea of running something completely different, she saw a lingerie shop for sale on a business platform. "Then a hatch opened in my mind. I had always loved lingerie and I had experienced at first hand that there is something crazy going on in lingerie land. We act as if it is normal for bras to be uncomfortable. There is little choice, there are often only very standard sizes available and if you can get advice at all, it is usually not very good. So much goes wrong! And that's where I saw an opportunity."
We are so used to seeing bras in commercials and ads that are not the right size at all. In our marketing we only show bras that fit well.
Floor decided - indeed from scratch - to build her own business, with personal advice at its core. "We explain how best to wear your bra and how you can tell if it fits properly. We are so used to seeing bras in commercials and ads that are not the right size at all. In our marketing we only show bras that fit well. We educate people." That was certainly not easy during the corona lockdowns. The shop in Rotterdam had been open for several years, but in Utrecht the adventure had only just begun. "We started working with video bra-fitting and shopping by appointment. We'll keep that going!"
From the early beginning, Floor knew that SuperBra had to become a chain. She doesn't rule out crossing the border, but first: Amsterdam. "I hope we can open a shop in Amsterdam in the second half of next year, corona volente. I am working internally to tighten things up behind the scenes, so that we only start copy-pasting when we are really well organised." Floor's fondness for data - which can be traced back to her studies in physics - comes in handy with these plans for scaling up.
Any other ambitions? "In five years' time, I would like to see seamless integration between online and offline. I also think about artificial intelligence support when trying on a bra, that may already be technically possible. And I really want to be listed in the Quote 500."