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Bra Freedom for Large Busts: How It All Started

The Founder's Story

Welcome, full-busted friends! I'm Karen Poirier, the designer and founder of this very different new brand. And I'm a lady on a mission: to free you from constrictive bras.

At Embrago (pronounced em-BRA-go), having a fuller bust is the norm and the expectation. It's not a liability, as it is for other brands. It's why we exist. This is where full support, total comfort, and sophisticated style all come together to create the radical new design innovation that is bra-free clothing.

Embrago is not only the best "built in bra" your big breasts have ever experienced. It's actually the best built-in non-bra they've ever experienced.

In a word, it's freedom.

And it will transform your life, I assure you. Just like it did for me.

Here's how it all started. (No bras were harmed -- or worn -- in the making of these photos.)

Karen Poirier wears the Embrago Full Support Bra Free Top  with built in support for full busts.
This is me not wearing a bra (!) in the design that started it all, my Full Support Bra-Free top (in size Full Bust Medium). I topped it with a cardigan I've owned for many years. I love quality pieces that last.)

Dressing a Big Bust

I'm a full-busted woman who has experienced all the expected hormonal cycles of a woman's life -- from puberty to pregnancies, childbirth and nursing, to maturity and menopause. I believe comfort is important for every woman. And I've experienced the increasing importance that comfort and ease take on with every decade. As our hormones shift each month and year, our bodies change and sometimes they become softer, rounder, or more sensitive.

Fashion is not kind to larger breasts. A lifetime of shopping for clothes has convinced me that the de facto comfort choices that industry offers fuller busted women -- i.e. leisure bras and blousy tunics -- do nothing for our self-esteem when we look in the mirror. "Marshmallow on toothpicks" is not a look anyone aspires to.

In addition to the fashion challenges we face even on our best days, we eventually all go through times in our life when our bodies betray us, by sneaking on pounds, redistributing weight, or succumbing to gravity.

We still want to look good, no matter what we're going through. We should be able to, without suffering.

Hello, Fashion World, Can Anybody Hear Me?

When I was still in my 40's and just beginning to experience, ah, let's just say, some of those aforementioned betrayals, I started searching for a new option. I wanted something I could wear that would cover, support, and hold my body -- enough so that I would look "decent", but not so much that it constricted or squeezed uncomfortably. I didn't want tight elastic bands or hot and sweaty nylon. I also didn't want to compromise on style. I just wanted something that I could wear without a bra and still feel attractive, feminine, and tastefully dressed.

It didn't seem like so much to ask. But it was.

There was nothing out there for women like me. 'Comfort bras' were an oxymoron. If I wanted to look well-dressed or even just leave the house without embarrassment, I had to wear a constrictive full-support bra. If I wanted to be comfortable and un-harnessed, I could only retreat to my home, ignoring the doorbell and staying out of public view. The whole situation felt ridiculous and oppressive.

An Unexpected Meeting

And then, divine intervention! I met a former-fashion-insider-turned-sewing-coach. She came into my life as just the right mentor at just the right time. I dusted off my sewing machine -- last used for my youngest child's Halloween costume a decade before -- and set to work creating a solution.

Every week, we would meet in her sunny studio and work at engineering a design that would support and flatter my fuller, maturing curves without feeling constrictive.

My guiding principle: just because my body's composition and distribution evolved over time, I didn't want to accept the existing clothes options that didn't flatter me anymore. I did not want to accept a fate of uniboobs and tunics!

Karen Poirier wearing the Embrago Maxi Dress with built in support for fuller busts.
Here I am not wearing a bra in the Ultimate Dress, accessorized with my grandmother's antique butterfly pin. (The sensible shoes are mine, not Grandma's, in case you were wondering. But they are really comfortable!)

For the first year, we worked to create and refine the original pattern, testing countless fabrics. I have giant plastic storage tubs filled with my experiments, failures, and rejects. I felt that if I was going to go through the effort of doing this, I was determined to do it right. I didn't want to accept anything that didn't look and function perfectly.

The persistence paid off, and we finally succeeded in designing what I wanted, something that felt like wearing pajamas, but supported like a bra and looked like a chic wardrobe. I was so, so happy when I tried on the "one".

It's taken many more years to refine that orginal design, patent it, get lots of fit feedback from you, scale it for a new size chart, and turn it all into the world's first line of full-support bra-free clothing.

A New Mission

Along the way, I discovered YOU. As I worked on my designs, I talked with a lot of women I met along the way. I found that lots of you feel just the same. Some of you have given up on bras entirely. Most of you had no hope of ever seeing anything different or better from the fashion industry. Every one of you was reconciled to a life of discomfort as the price to play in the fashion world. But I saw a spark of hope came back to your eyes when you tried on my designs and tasted sweet, sweet bra-freedom, a heretofore forbidden public pleasure for women like us.

Even though I had only intended to design this for myself, I realized that I needed to get this out into the world for you. And for all the full-busted girls and women out there who are feeling discouraged, uncomfortable, and less-than because the fashion industry ignores their needs.

So this is my new mission. I want to give larger-busted women the freedom we have never had. The chance, at last, to cast off the shackles of full support bras, to breathe, eat, and move freely WHILE being well dressed. To never again worry about how our chest looks, or to have to choose between comfort and presentability.

The Embrago brand is the result of more than six years of dedicated research, design, and development. Its soft-engineering system of support has won two international design awards and has been awarded a patent. That feels pretty good.

But what feels even better is getting to share this with you, my full-busted and mature-busted sisters, to give you a truly new choice that treats your body with the compassion it deserves, and to take a break from your bra without compromising your self-esteem. To be free -- physically, mentally, and emotionally!

I still have a long way to go to make these designs accessible to all the women who deserve them and need them. If you believe in this mission, too, here are some ways you can help me get the word out:

Thanks for supporting Embrago as we work to create new and better options for full-busted women. I love hearing from you, and I read and respond to every email personally. I can't wait to change the world together.

Here's to bra-freedom!

A woman with blond hair wearing the Embrago full length maxi dress wtih built in bra-free support.
A full-length dress made for comfort that flatters fuller busts. I can now eat a full meal, breathe and relax and enjoy the people I'm with. No more counting the minutes until I can get home and take off the bra!


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