Back in 2010, a heavily pregnant Kate Kikano was in desperate need of comfortable lingerie. She went around the malls in Dubai, looking for the right fit, but to her despair she was instead poked, prodded, and laughed at. At the fifth mall Kikano gave up and went home in tears. “I ended the day quite despondent, then I got mad,” says the Dubai resident. Kate started talking bras to practically every woman she met and quickly realised it wasn’t just her having such a negative experience. The experience helped her set up TKD Lingerie to provide high quality, stylish choices of D-K cup lingerie and swimwear, fitted by a wonderful team of friendly, knowledgeable bra fitters. Here she talks about her journey with TKD Lingerie:
What are the challenges women face when it comes to buying the lingerie for themselves?
Not so long ago, people bought their suits from a tailor, their lingerie from a corsetier....everything was made for you. Then in the 1940s and ‘50s we had ready-to-wear bras. Women were often forced to squeeze into badly fitting bras. At TKD Lingerie, we have changed that. We stock over 120 sizes (as opposed to 20-30 sizes offered by many high street retailers). Feeling confident or comfortable in your body is something that I believe women from all backgrounds struggle with. We are our own worst critiques and the prevalence of photoshopped images and filters on everything, can lead to a distorted view of beauty.
Take us to the early years of starting TKD – how did the name happen?
TKD is an abbreviation of The Knicker Drawers, it was the result of brainstorming during a night in with my girl friends! We wanted a friendly, fun name to reflect who we were. However, it was a bit of a mouthful so we soon became known as TKD! It was certainly a steep learning curve opening TKD Lingerie. Ten years ago starting and running a business in the UAE was a very different experience. I ran around to various government offices to ask procedures and policies - most of which can be achieved online now. There is also an amazing community here to help budding entrepreneurs. Like many people I had a great idea, then I just needed the cash to fund it….this is a huge challenge for most new businesses. I was fortunate to have the backing of friends and family, so it was a mix of their help and self-funding. Then we looked after the pennies (or fils), and grew the business steadily but surely.
How hands-on are you with the business?
My very favourite part of TKD is working on the shop floor. I love helping our customers and seeing their reaction when we put them in the right size for the very first time! We do spend a lot time analyzing what our customers are buying and listen to all comments. As a small, independent business we have the flexibility to respond quickly to our customers’ needs.
How important is a right-fitting lingerie?
The right fitting lingerie, can certainly make you feel and look great. It should offer you lift and support, which accentuates the waist and can actually make you look slimmer. Bras should also be comfortable and offer the right foundation for your outfits. Just as you have a clothing wardrobe for different occasions you should have a lingerie wardrobe that works for each aspect of your life.
As a woman, mom, wife and an entrepreneur – how do you balance?
I surround myself with great people, from my team at work, to my family, to my amazing nanny, I have a wonderful support system. We put processes in place and ensure everyone is highly trained in their roles. We also empower and trust our team.