OK moms, so tell me if any of these scenarios sounds remotely familiar:
- You’re off to drop your beautiful child at daycare, but you have no desire to take off your cozy sweatshirt, put on a bra, then put your sweatshirt back on — and yet you do. Because decency.
- You’re home, the doorbell rings, and you suddenly realize you’re not wearing a bra under your super-thin-but-oh-so-comfy-t-shirt. But you really really REALLY want that box from Amazon Prime. Solution: You hide, track the delivery person’s exact whereabouts, and quickly pounce on the package once he or she is out of sight. Because decency.
- You work from home and want to go braless, but what if your child comes home with a friend? So you dutifully don your bra. Because decency.
- You’re home, it’s trash day, and you desperately need to go out to add a bag of trash to the can at the curb because you just found the leftovers of your signature Chicken Surprise dish from six weeks ago in the fridge. However, you decide against, for fear of scarring your neighbors with the sight of your swinging tatas. So you go to your room, dutifully don a bra, then take the surprising Chicken Surprise out to the trash. Because decency.
- You’re doing laundry and chores around the house but just want to be comfy, yet your yoga pants don’t have pockets, and you want to listen to the Dirty John podcast to alleviate the sheer boredom. So you end up going room to room, vacuum/Windex/toilet scrubber in one hand, and iPhone in the other. Because desperation.
Truth be told: All of the above could (and do) happen on any given day to me. Well, all but the “swinging tatas” part, as my tatas are less about swinging than they are about slightly jiggling.
Regardless though, most of us can relate, no?
Enter a brand-new solution to resolve all of the above: The Shelfie.
It may sound like a combination of a teen’s picture and something you’d find on a beach that had been abandoned by a too-big hermit crab, but alas, its name is inspired by the concept of a shelf bra. Reno mom Joanne Jarrett used to live in a house in which her babies’ room was on one end of the home, and hers on the other — meaning she’d run from end-to-end of the house when her girls would cry out needing attention.
“I’d be in my PJs, which were comfy but really offered very little in terms of coverage, and then I’d be running,” she describes, reenacting her swinging tatas (yes, I was jealous). “So I started to buy shelf-bra camis at Target and loved them – but they didn’t leave much to the imagination.”
She says she turned to Google for the solution, but the search engine proved an unwilling helper.
“Every search for ‘shelf bra nightgown’ ended with slinky lingerie,” she says with a dismissive eye roll. “Like that’s what I wanted.”
So the retired family practice physician — oh yeah, I forgot to mention, she is a legit medical doctor who decided to retire to stay home with her two kids, who are now 12 and 14 — took matters into her own hands.
She took an apparel production course online. Then she found a pattern maker who created her prototype.
All of this with very little sewing experience of her own.
“My mom taught me how to sew right after high school,” she remembers of the time just after she graduated from McQueen High School in 1990. “Just a little, enough to make a quilt of all of my gymnastics t-shirts.”
The quilt, she laments, is long gone — but with that knowledge, when times were tight, she sewed a house full of curtains.
“This slowly morphed into Halloween costumes, and then I taught myself how to read a pattern.”
So with her little bit of knowledge of sewing and some good old fashioned (this time productive) Google searching, she took a deep dive into apparel production.
“I literally tore out the shelf bra from my tank and sewed it into something I made,” she recalls. “And I remember thinking, ‘If I want this, maybe others will, too.’ I felt like having something cute and comfy to wear in what I call the ‘No Bra Zone’ was a universal need I could address.”
Her husband, Scott (a local endodontist), and she came up with a budget for this “gamble,” which was exhausted by the time they got their first product samples.
“Then I took a Kickstarter course,” says the lifelong learner, who attended University of Washington as an undergrad then returned home to attend the University of Nevada, Reno for medical school and her residency. “What better way to get proof of concept and simultaneously test the market to measure demand and to see which colors and pieces were popular?”
Her Kickstarter is all or nothing, meaning if she doesn’t reach her $15,000 goal to make her first round of products, then she’s not out any money (only loads of marketing time, obviously), and neither are her backers. Her first offering is six pieces: a sleeveless tunic, a short-sleeved kangaroo pocket top, a short-sleeved t-shirt dress, a maxi dress, shorts and leggings.
“All tops have that same inner structure: a shelf bra, with two discreet cups — no uni-boob here,” she laughs. “And every outfit has a phone pocket.”
At only seven days into the campaign, she’s already 30 percent funded. The Kickstarter campaign has pledge levels ranging from a token of $1 — all the way up to a $599 pledge, which gets backers a wardrobe of Shelfies — two of every piece she’s planning to make in this first round.
“The Kickstarter is basically preorders,” she says. “So if I’m not fully funded at the close of 30 days, then the backers have no out-of-pocket expense. No one is on the hook.”
One of the benefits she wasn’t expecting from the Kickstarter is the back-and-forth nature of having “backers” who also are a sounding board and informal focus group.
“I’m getting comments all the time — like one woman who said, ‘I’d totally wear this, but I’m not crazy about the prints — are you going to offer anything street chic?’”
So with this feedback, she just released a video polling her audience to ask which piece they’d like to be offered in a solid fabric. And, she adds, if her Kickstarter funds at 200 percent, she’ll offer a plus size line — also a request by popular demand.
“It’s just so awesome that this was an idea that solved a real-world problem, and even though I had no idea how to do it, I’ve been able to learn all on my own.”
She adds that on a practical level, her biggest takeaway is about the evolving marketplace.
“The world is changing, and a lot more people are working remotely and from home – we need to start looking at what makes us feel good and comfortable when we’re home that can also do double duty outside the home,” she notes. “There’s room in the marketplace for products that are in the middle between pajamas that you’d never want to be seen in outside of the home and the clothes we typically reserve for ‘work.’”
But on a less practical note, she says the biggest benefit of this experience is purely emotional.
“It’s just so exciting to figure out I can really do this – I’m really proud of what I’ve made and excited to see it come to fruition. Plus my husband is impressed, my girls are saying things like, ‘I can’t believe you did this Mom.’ It’s just really gratifying.”
To pledge a token dollar amount to support this Reno mom, or to pre-order a Shelfie ranging anywhere from $25 to $599, visit the Shelfie Shoppe Kickstarter here. To read more about Joanne Jarrett, visit her Cozy Clothes Blog.