In Pursuit of Good-Fitting Bras & Kansas City's Hidden Gems
Go behind the scenes with KC by Sari, a podcast for Kansas City enthusiasts, and Emily Elizabeth the Founder & CEO of Circadian Intimates. Emily started Circadian Intimates to help women feel empowered no matter their age, size, phase of life, or past bra experience.
Listen to the episode now and follow along with their conversation below.
Sari: I had such an amazing experience when I first visited your store, Circadian Intimates. Afterwards, I posted about it on Instagram and had several women come up to me since then and say, “I went to Circadian Intimates and just had the best experience. I didn't know I was wearing the wrong bra size. And now my bras are so comfortable.”
Emily: Yes! Why is this a thing that all women go through? Why do we wait our whole lives to find out there are bra options that actually fit your body and make you feel great?
Sari: As a business owner, I would love to hear a little bit of your background. Has owning a business always been the end goal for you?
Emily: I knew when I was 17, in high school and trying to figure out what to do for college and a career, that I wanted to own my own business.
Deep in your soul, you just know some things and that was something I knew. But I had no idea how to start a business, but I knew at some point it was going to happen. I've spent 20 years working for other organizations, just learning and absorbing.
And I was hit with this Circadian Intimates opportunity and I realized, “This is it.” This is the opportunity that I was waiting for.
My friends and I will sit around brainstorming new business ideas. The hardest part is finding an idea that you're so passionate about, that when things are really tough, you're still going to dig in and persevere. And the idea has to make money because it's your livelihood. Finding that kind of idea is hard, so when I was presented with this opportunity, I know I had to do it right now. My body was telling me, “If you don't do this right now, you'll regret it the rest of your life. I'm going to be honest, that was the worst time I could have ever started a business. The worst from a personal life perspective, from a financial perspective, I just had too many things going on that worked against me.”
I knew deep down that this was the thing that had to happen and I would move mountains to make it happen. I think you just know things sometimes, or at least I do. I have really strong intuition and I know when I want something. When I want something, I go after it and throw everything behind it and go after it.
Circadian Intimates is what I needed.
Sari: For you, what is it about helping women of all ages that you connect with so well and that you love so much?
Emily: For me, it starts with seeing the people I love and know need help. I think about my own mom who just turned 70 and I guarantee you, she's been wearing the wrong size bra her whole life until forced her to come into the store and we did a fitting together.
My mom is well endowed; her body and my body are very different. I see what she does on a daily basis, what she goes through, and I want her to feel awesome. You want your mom to feel incredible.
It starts with finding a connection point that you can relate to. And then you see that person that you love, you see it in other people. For me, it started with my mom and moved to my daughter.
I have a 12-year-old daughter who recently started wearing bras. I'm watching her and her friends go through this experience of everything's so awkward. Her friends are too afraid to talk to their mom about anything, but they need help. I can empathize with that because I used to be there and get it, I understand it. You see those people you love and you want to help them. And then you start seeing them in all of the strangers out in the world.
My manager and I were having a conversation about what to do when you see someone on the street that really needs help with her bra. You’ll be out for dinner and see a woman and think, “Oh my gosh, we want to help that woman. She could really use a different bra that fts her body.” We talk about how to approach a stranger in that setting with something personal as intimates.
I have those moments all of the time where I think, if I could just help that woman and change one little facet of their life, she would feel better about her day. She would feel better when she goes out in the world - sitting at home, working from home, whatever she is doing.
I see myself in these women. I see the people I love in all of these women. This is where the heart of this business this comes from.
Sari: Thinking back to my own experience, being a 12-year-old and going through that time when your body's changing, you know, it's not just preteens, but women's bodies are always changing. Bras are so universal and necessary, but they’re also considered so intimate, so the conversations seem uncomfortable.
I know when I came in to the store I thought I was sure about the bra size that I was and, oh, you know, my body's changed in the last few years. And when I was fitted, I was like, “My bra size is what now?”
It’s kind of one of those things that it is so awkward to talk about: your body to someone else, especially someone you don't know.
What's so great about your store is the level of intimacy and comfort. It was reached so easily because at the end of the day regardless of my bra size, I want to be comfortable. Women want to be comfortable and they want to feel good in what they're wearing and sexy and what they're wearing when it comes time for that. Why go through life being uncomfortable for something that you have to wear all the time?
Emily: Every day we see women asking for a wire-free bra because they're so uncomfortable in what they’re wearing. The reality is that the only time a bra is uncomfortable is if it's the wrong size.
If you knew what the right fitting bra felt like you wouldn’t take it off. It should feel weightless – like it’s not even on your body.
Most women have never gotten to this point in their life. I think about myself and my friends from decades ago. The only place we knew to go bra shopping was Victoria's Secret. That's what we were flooded with in the media, it was the only option in the mall when I grew up – it’s all we knew. Victoria’s Secret has strong business, but it's a business designed purely for revenue, regardless of fit and size inclusivity.
One of the things we do at the store with all of our bra fitting stylists is intense training. Training is not only based on size, but also on a bra’s cup shape and engineering. The sewing of a cup supports breast tissue in different ways.
When you're young, you have pretty healthy breast tissue and things are awesome. And then, you know, fast forward and you have three kids like myself and everything has completely changed. We all think, “What happened? I can't fill out bras the same way."
While I’m the same size as before, I can't wear the same style of cups because my tissue falls in different places. Victoria's Secret doesn’t buy product to accommodate different breast tissue; they don't plan for that, and frankly, they don't really care.
Positive experience is something we try really, really hard to deliver on. It takes amazing employees to make happen. Megan, who is our store manager, is absolutely incredible. She's like a bra whisperer; seriously, this girl's a genius. When we have someone walk into our store, we are literally visually sizing them up. We're not just looking at how narrow, wide, tall, short, full or not, we're looking at age and asking questions about what they've done in their life, how active they are, what their history is. All of us this helps us determine what style will best fit them.
And sometimes, and I mean, you've been into her story, because you've been through it. It's a journey. It's not like we just say, “Hey, here's a bra. Go, go try it on.” We go through a couple of sizes and styles to fit her body. We use demi cups for some women because they are shallower, while we’ll use a full cup because she needs more containment. For every bra she tries, it must be comfortable.
We’re asking her, “Which do you feel good in? Which makes you feel like an alpha?” Unleashing her inner alpha is what we are going for, and that requires a bit of a journey. This is the most fun part of our job.
Women walk into the store dreading the experience, because bra shopping is like swimsuit shopping. It's the worst shopping experience. The words we hear from women is, “Let's just get this over with.”
Sometimes we have women cry tears of joy. Sometimes we have dance parties in those dressing rooms because we've found something that's amazing. Going through this experience with each individual who walks in the door is the best part of our day. This individual, one-on-one experience is what connects us on an emotional level – and we’re complete strangers!
We don't know each other, but we connect.
I've literally seen women transform in front of my eyes, just from changing their perspective on what they're wearing and how it makes them feel physically and mentally. It's absolutely incredible. And it sounds crazy until you've been through it. And then you're like, “Oh my God, it's like a fix. I have to do this job every day.”
Sari: Something you mentioned I want to circle back to is that your store carries bras for people of all ages.
You carry bras for preteens. Carrying such a wide range of cup sizes, and band sizes as well, speaks to your passion for helping women. Women in their 30s aren't the only people that need to be fitted, just like women in their 50s aren't the only women that need to be fitted. This is just a journey that all women go through and as our bodies change. It's a really great mission.
Emily: All bodies are different. All of us look different. Every single person is unique in personality, fingerprints, body type. We very much went into this thinking, “How do we design something that fits every age, ethnicity, woman, body type and quite honestly, every budget.”
I'm over 40 now, and I think about the times when I felt good about my financial situation and I was able spend more. And there were times when I was like, “Oh my gosh, things are rough, I really need to button down.”
We try really, really hard to make sure we offer a spectrum of prices, just the same with sizes and colors and styles and everything like that. Cause you know, there are some days when I'm like, “You know what? I don't want to spend more than $40 on a bra.” And, and we have that. And then there are days when I want to splurge and I'm like, “I just want something absolutely incredible.” And we've got that too.
Our highest price point right now is $120 from the Simone Perele brand, which is French. It is not over-the-top fancy, but it is designed and constructed very well, and every style is stunning. I've been wearing this brand for 10 years because it fits my body so well. It just fits. It just works with my body. And once you find that brand that fits you perfectly, you don't ever want to turn back. We find this with a lot of women.
Sari: What are some struggles you've had to deal with since becoming a business owner and hurdles you've really had to jump over to get your business where it is now?
Emily: I feel like there's quite a few. When we first opened in May of 2023, as the owner, I felt like my role was really just problem solver. I had this fantastic team who was working with all of our customers and doing great. I felt like I wasn’t focusing on what products we're going to carry or marketing or finance because I was always stuck solving some kind of problem.
An example problem is from last July when we had a really bad rainstorm that started flooding the back of the store. Water's coming in the back door and I’m thinking, “I didn't anticipate something like this happening in a brand-new shopping center. We're in a brand-new building. How could something like this happen?” Or another example is when internet stops working and my staff asks, “How do I ring people up if the internet stops working?”
The little tiny troubleshooting I didn't plan for, but the rest of the business experience has been a balance of asking myself, “Where I invest my time and where I invest my money?”
Do I invest in the product I'm bringing in? Because I want to carry different styles and colors, and try different brands. I want to bring all of that in but it costs a lot to do that. At the same time, we're a brand-new business, so not everybody knows us. I need to create awareness that we're here, we exist, and explain how we serve the market. I want to invest money into marketing and advertising and communications, which also cost money. And there’s only so much money to go around, so I go back and forth on investment strategy.
The other challenge is how to best invest my time. I'm a single mom responsible for three wonderful children and a business. When you start a businesss, you don't make money at the beginning, it takes a while to make money. As a result, I have another job, a full-time job where I'm head of marketing for a software company headquartered in Kansas City.
I'm in a constant battle of dividing my attention across all of the things I care about and love in my life. Part of it is, is my day job. Part of it is my team at Circadian Intimates. I want to be present for them. I want to show up. I want to train them. I want them to know I'm there to support them and available for all of our customers.
I want to meet every single one of our customers. I want to see their faces. I want them to know how invested I am. And then I also have my kids that I try and spend as much time with as possible. As a first-time business owner, and somebody who’s trying to juggle all of this – I knew it was going to be a struggle walking into this because I signed up for it. I knowingly signed up for it.
I wouldn't tell you it's harder than I imagined because it's just hard. I planned for that, but it's a constant reminder for everyone who interacts with me. I want to spend all the time in the world with you, but I got to figure out how I can really dive in and invest in you and then pull back out and then switch to the next one. And that's, that's been pretty tough. At some point I will be full time business owner and mother and not have to worry about anything, but that's probably years away.
Sari: With having to juggle so much all at once, are you able to really take time for yourself and have those moments of where you're just able to focus on you and celebrate you as a woman and a mother and a business owner?
Emily: Yes. I manage to squeeze those in because honestly, if I don't, I would lose my mind. I mean, I would totally lose my mind. I do two things for myself, which are based on how I think and operate.
I'm a reader. So, when I need to check out and stop thinking for a little bit, I will dive into a book. I try and do that every single night, even if that means I read one page. That's it. Like, that's all I need. I just have to do that.
The other outlet for me is running. I try to run as many days of the week as I can. I'm a goal-oriented person, so I'm always trying to achieve something. I signed up for the Leadville race series this summer, which is a six-event running and biking series in Leadville, Colorado, up in the mountains. My running buddy and I signed for the marathon in June and the 50-mile race in July. Running time is, is mental clarity for me. I don't talk to anybody. I just, I zone out. I process my thoughts. I, I replay conversations I had that day and think, “I wish I would've said this. I would've I wish I would have tried that.” Or I'll have problems and challenges that I got to work through. And the only way I can do it is to be moving and be alone and lost in my thoughts.
I come up with so many ideas when I'm on a run. Even if it's only 30 minutes. I found this sweet spot of afternoon running. I used to work out in the morning – the 5am wake up, roll out of bed, hit the gym. I realized the 5am slot is my best thinking time.
So now, I use that 5 to 7am time period to work on anything important. By the time 2pm rolls around, my brain is fried and is dead to the world. The only way you're ever going to get anything out of me is if I recharge it, so I do my runs at 2 or 3pm and treat it as my lunch break. Running and reading is what keeps me sane.
Sari: With your kids, are there any favorite go to spots in Kansas City that you are frequently visiting or any spots that your kids really love to go to?
Emily: There are places that ‘mom’ likes to drag them to, and then there are places the kids love to go. We spend a whole lot of time at Meadowbrook Park, which is in Prairie Village. With my youngest, we enjoy the awesome bike riding trails, and with my oldest, we run together on those same trails.
‘Mom’ likes to drag them to places that push them outside of their comfort zone. These places are near and dear to my heart because they’re things I care about. I know the kids don't like them, but I want them to experience and appreciate them. One is a restaurant, my favorite I Kansas City: Cafe Gratitude, which is a vegan restaurant. It's an experience; you’re going there to only eat the food, you're going there to experience a lifestyle.
The other is the Nelson Atkins Museum. I like the the serenity of it, the creativity that exists. I want to teach my kids how to reflect on what they're seeing, what they're looking at, what impact it has on them, and what it means to them. Forget about what the artist’s thought they were trying communicate, but really looking at what it means to you and what do you do with that meaning?
So those, those are my two favorites. Nelson Atkins, most everybody knows about, but I feel like Cafe Gratitude is a hidden gem in Kansas City and everyone needs to experience it.
There's this fantastic little restaurant in in the South Plaza area around 51st and Main called Blu Hwy. Amazing cocktails, food, and people watching. I have this rule: You only sit at the bar or at the bar tables so that you can observe everything that's happening, everything that's coming in.
One other place is Shawnee Mission Park, which is out west in Lenexa. I love that park for trail runs. You're in a forest, focusing on your feet, concentrating – it's a whole other experience.
Those trail runs are the most fun running you can do. I would never describe running as fun, but trail running in Shawnee Mission Park has some moments of enjoyment.
Sari: If there was something you could change about Kansas City, what would that be?
Emily: I wish that Kansas City had a better brand nationally and globally.
Nationally, we are known as the flyover city. You just skip over it. If you're from here, you are so proud of KC. I think of Kansas City’s creativity, which is what I believe we are known for, in addition to fantastic barbecue. This city bleeds creativity into everything – from cocktail creation to our businesses that we own and operate. I feel like we are overdue for a really strong branding initiative to tell the world how amazing we are. We could do better to promote how awesome we are to make us respected across the nation.
What do you think we're missing that we should be doing or promoting, Sari?
Sari: My answer changes depending on the week. Sometimes my answer is more late-night food options.
Dan and I are in the habit of eating later at night. If we're cooking dinner, we typically will start cooking at 7pm and eat around 8pm. We love going to plays and musicals and movies and any sort of entertainment. But we are not the couple that's going to have dinner at 4:30 or 5pm as a preventative way to eat beforehand. I wish that it was way easier to find restaurants that were still serving food after 9pm.
Is there anything, are there any lines or specialty items that will be coming to the store soon? I know the holidays are right around the corner. Is there anything that you would want listeners to know about and keep a special eye out for?
Emily: Our holiday collection arrives mid-November and includes a fantastic combination of super comfortable pajamas, robes, and slippers. The holiday brand we partner with is special to us because it is a woman-owned, woman-designer out of Denver. She designs affordable fashion, so the price points are about $36, which is very, very affordable when it comes to actual lingerie. She designs these beautiful pieces in a whole collection we're bringing in for the holidays.
It's the holidays, so we took our holiday to extremes. One extreme is the comfort level we’re delivering in loungewear pajamas that are incredibly warm and super soft. And then the other extreme is straight up glamour in jewel-toned embroidered bodysuits and bralettes, paired some really great gloves just for fun.
We have a rule that everything brought into the store has to be comfortable. If it's not comfortable, it doesn't matter. We will not bring it into the store. I'm really excited for all of these pieces to arrive. Not only are beautiful, but they’re unlike anything else we have in the store right now. And, also unlike anything I've seen in the market.
I haven't seen anything else like this before, so I'm excited to bring it here to Kansas City and complement some of those other pieces we have. Another exclusive set we carry in the store that was made by a designer just for Circadian Intimates in a bralette, thong, high-waisted panty and shorts in Kansas City Chiefs colors. And they're so awesome.
I'm proud that we have our own branded intimates and even more proud that they’re Kansas City themed. I'm really looking forward to holiday collections coming.
Sari: The ladies are going to love them. I cannot wait to see them. I'll be very excited. I love a good pajama set. That is my thing. I sleep in matching pajama sets every night. It is so silly, but that's what I do. This is my favorite time of year, so I will be excited to see everything that the store carries.
And for people who have not yet had a chance to go to the store, where is your store located and where can people follow on social media?
Emily: Circadian Intimates is in Prairie Village. We're in the Corinth Quarter shopping center at 83rd Street and Mission Road. We are open Tuesday through Sunday.
Circadian is just like the rhythm that everybody thinks about because we are here for the rhythm of her life, the rhythm of her day, what she's going to wear and how she's going to carry on.
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