Here's the story of how Mari, founder of MAAREE started her journey by creating her game-changing sports bra design.
When I was working at Loughborough University a few years back, I was testing sports bra performance for some of the top sports brands in the world. Despite my job, I continued to feel like my perfect sports bra didn't exist. I felt that nothing significantly reduced my breast motion. In fact, no sports bras seemed to tackle reducing upward motion of breasts.
Not only did I see this in the testing, but even when running outside on my own. I would hover my hands above my chest and realise how much motion there was. So why wasn't anyone looking at reducing upward motion? Wasn't this obvious? What comes up, must come down. Right?!
Speaking to the women participating in my trials on a weekly basis, it was clear I wasn't alone in this.
I knew I wanted some sort of tension applied over the top of my breasts. It's great that the underband stops your breasts from travelling downward. Nonetheless, if your breasts are allowed to travel upward in the first place, then there will still downward motion experienced, regardless.
The underband in a straight piece of elastic, found at the bottom of your sports bra, that runs all the way around your body and (sometimes) ties at the back. It's an anchor point for the bra to provide you with support. It's important for it to fit tightly as it provides around 80% of your breast support.
It does a great job. But we need more.
"I want an underband, but over the top too... like an OVERband" I would joke.
Like me, you can probably see an immediate problem here. A straight piece of elastic band over the top of the breasts too would not look flattering. I know, I tried it.
Yikes! I suddenly looked like I had two sets of boobs. Not my desired look, I have to say. Not to mention, very uncomfortable. I wanted it to curve with the shape of my body. Not only to have a more flattering look, but so that it evenly distributes the pressure too.
Hmm... how do I achieve this?
I headed to the charity shops. I bought as many belts I could find in the handful of shops we had in the town centre. I knew I needed to take something straight and somehow curve it. But I didn't know how much. So I was going to need a few attempts to get this right.
After my shopping spree, I headed back home and started cutting triangles in the belts and re-sewing them back together. So that is made them curved. This was my result.
Little did I know this was prototype #1 of what I'd later go on to call the Overband®.
I placed it over my chest. It fit me great! It curved the right amount and in the right places. Waw, the first attempt went surprisingly well. What's next? I need to attach it to one of the 'better' sports bras in my wardrobe. One that was already fairly good at reducing downward motion. Yet had much to desire in the upward direction. So that's what I did.
But I only had one of this type of sports bra in my wardrobe. I didn't tend to buy the same old sports bra more than once at this point in my life. As I was still searching for "The One". Yet I wanted to quickly and easily compare the performance of the bra.
At the point I was designing these prototypes, I had moved on from my job in the sports bra lab, and was working for a wearables company in London. I no longer had access to the testing technology I previously used for this type of comparison testing. So I made the Overband partially detachable. I, crudely, attached bra hooks into each end, and sewed extra loops onto the sports bra to hook them onto. While the middle part of the Overband was sewn into the bra.
I went out for a run. Oh. My. God.
This worked SO well! I was amazed! I felt the different immediately. I was so glad to realise that the concept I had in my head was actually working as I hoped it would all along.
Just to be sure, I removed the attachments mid way around. When I did, boy, did this 'relatively good' bra suddenly feel so unsupportive. It was very clear, even from my basic and rudimentary testing, that the Overband was incredibly effective.
The rest is history.
I'm so glad to finally get my ideal support. I wanted to share it with the world.
I went on to find and work with a supplier to communicate my idea to them so that we could produce the world's first sports bra with Overband® Technology. We designed one that was adjustable in tension, with our Solidarity Sports Bra, and one that was not, with our Empower Sports Bra.
Although the Overband® Technology is what makes my bras unique and revolutionary, it's one of many elements of my bras that make it perform as well as it does. The fabric is another incredibly important feature, with strategically placed panelling for optimal balance between support and comfort. To learn more about our features, click here.
I launched my bras and MAAREE in December 2018 and am overwhelmed by the response to my designs. I'm so glad to be helping so many women, like me, finally find their ideal support.
This crude and basic prototype helped me to realise how well reducing upward motion of breasts improved overall support. It might not be perfect but it’s what got me started with MAAREE.
I still have this today and will not throw it out, ever. It proves to me that you can make such a big difference with small ideas, or ideas you initially think might be really silly, or even obvious!
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