Female Disruptors: Dora Lau is shaking up the fashion industry by making it more inclusive

Akemi Sue Fisher
Dec 19, 2018 · 5 min read

“Everything happens for a reason.” This is so true for me and has had its own life lessons. The evolution of the Curvy Couture brand has been a great learning experience that’s led to our present success. Had a retail partner joined in creating Curvy Couture, it might not be what it is today.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dora Lau. Dora is founder and president of Dora L International, Inc. and the body positive intimate apparel brand, Curvy Couture (which she self funded). In the manufacturing industry that is dominated by men, she has demonstrated a keen ability and wisdom to create foundations that are confidence boosting, feel and fit great. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Lane Bryant Vendor of the Year Award for creativity and innovation, and The Avenue Partner of Excellence.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

My family owned a popular record company in Hong Kong. Our label produced top local artists with some of the bestselling albums in the Cantopop genre. At an early age, I was involved in creating the artists’ public image — choosing fabrics and custom-designing gowns and suits for their concerts, often traveling to Europe to shop the couture houses of Paris and Milan. I quickly understood that foundation garments made all the difference in the artist’s overall appearance.

I was also curvy growing up. Finding clothes that fit and looked good was impossible, so I started designing and making my own. After graduating from design school, my first endeavor was creating eveningwear for full-figured women. To me, the industry has always underserved the curvy woman.

Being a stylist first taught me how important intimate apparel layers are to the shape and support of the body, and to the confidence that comes from feeling beautiful and free. My passion evolved from styling to design and now manufacturing: Full-figured intimate apparel with attention to sophisticated details is very hard to find, especially when it’s comfortable and affordable. My dream of launching my own label, Curvy Couture, became a reality in 2012!

I’m also the founder of our parent company, Dora L International, and our management team has more than a century combined years of experience in the Intimate Apparel Industry, having worked on such brands as Warners, Olga, Debenhams, La Senza, Contessa, Maidenform, Bodyslimmers, Self Expressions, Agent Provocateur, Oscar de la Renta and Valentino. Since its inception, DLI has serviced customers such as United Retail, Lerner Stores, TJ Maxx, JC Penny, Soma, Nordstrom, Lane Bryant and Victoria’s Secrets. Dora L International, Inc. is a Certified Minority Business Enterprise/Women’s Business Enterprise (MBE/WBE).

Why did you found your company?

I became frustrated with the availability and variety of lingerie pieces available for curvy women. Women around the world were telling me that they wanted intimate apparel that was beautiful, sophisticated, comfortable, high quality, and made them feel sexy and confident. For several years I pitched the idea of “reinventing curves” to several of my retail partners. We tried to launch the Curvy Couture concept with different partners but felt there was a lack of dedication to high-quality materials and all the extra details that make the product special. So, I launched my self-funded, and now highly successful, Curvy Couture brand on my own.

This is a new era for women with curves, and Curvy Couture gives women the confidence and sophistication they’ve been longing for. Curvy Couture marries the best design with the latest technology to bring women lingerie that shapes, fits and flatters all body types.

What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Manufacturing, no matter the product, is male dominated. It’s very unusual to have a woman heading up a manufacturing company, even if it is for bras and panties! We are women owned and women operated with great men working with us to make Curvy Couture continue its success day after day, year after year.

Through the past 20 years of studying and fitting our customers’ curves, we’ve developed our own set of grading [i.e. sizing] rules. Many labels are now jumping on the full-figure bandwagon because it’s a niche market, but grading from missy sizes to full-figure doesn’t necessarily work. At Curvy Couture, we’ve customized our grade rule to the function of each style.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?

My mother was tough but had the most amazing entrepreneurial spirit.

How are you going to shake things up next?

We’re super excited about our new bridal collection. Curvy brides have certainly been underserved! “The Bridal Collection” is a splendid range of bridal intimates pulling from styles that our fans have fallen in love with. Already the go-to brand for beautiful and shape enhancing intimates, brides are swooning at the Curvy Couture styles that are perfect for every part of the wedding experience from bachelorette party to honeymoon.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“Everything happens for a reason.” This is so true for me and has had its own life lessons. The evolution of the Curvy Couture brand has been a great learning experience that’s led to our present success. Had a retail partner joined in creating Curvy Couture, it might not be what it is today.

“Design for your target customer.” Most designers only design for themselves without considering their target customer’s body, shape, comfort-level and price sensitivity. If you can marry all these things you can have devoted fans.

“Confidence is the sexiest thing you can wear.” Meaning that you should be your best self and accept who you are and all that you are capable of doing. Self-funding a company in a male dominated industry could have been very intimidating, but with confidence and the belief that I could succeed, it became a reality.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

I’ve always been a big fan of Tom Cruise. Once I even introduced myself to him!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.facebook.com/curvycoutureintimates

https://twitter.com/CurvyCouture1

https://www.instagram.com/curvycoutureintimates/

https://www.pinterest.com/curvycouture/

http://www.CurvyCouture.com

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

THANK YOU!

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Akemi Sue Fisher

Written by

The "Amazon Queen", Amazon millionaire, Akemi Sue Fisher, has helped thousands of Amazon sellers collectively earn over $1 Billion in sales. LoveandLaunch.com

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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