As a former accountant, Karen Tomalin always had a good head for figures. But when it came to her own figure, the mother of one always had difficulty finding the right bra.
So after a series of fruitless shopping trips, she got the motivation to start her own business – 2nd Skin Lingerie - making and selling bras to fit larger and smaller than average sizes.
And the company started by the Bromsgrove woman now offers bras covering everything from 30-50 inch back sizes, and from AAA up to K cup.
Ms Tomalin said: “When a shop assistant greets you with the words ‘I won’t have anything to fit you’ then you start to feel like a freak. In fact, in Bromsgrove where I live, there are lots of mature ladies who have nowhere to go if they want to find good supportive underwear to fit them properly. I’ve plugged that by providing my own fitting service here at my home in Marlbrook.
“And it’s not just a local problem either because, thanks to my website, I’ve had orders from all over the country, as well as some from the USA.”
After getting support from Business Link West Midlands, the entrepreneur was able to apply for a £500 start-up grant from Bromsgrove District Council and take a business course at North East Worcester College.
And now, less than twelve months after launching 2nd Skin Lingerie, the 41-year-old’s sales figures are a glowing success. She now offers to go out and visit disabled clients for fittings in their own homes. She also offers an unhurried service at her own home and is taking her offer out on the road, with a team of trained fitters who will be selling lingerie party plan style in customers’ homes.
Barbara Paxton of the enterprise zone at North East Worcestershire College said: “We are here to support Karen if ever she comes across any business problems, but we don’t expect her to encounter anything other than success as she’s such a determined lady who is going to make things work.”