Chances are, your bra doesn’t fit, and Katherine Bice wants to change that.

“Eighty percent of women wear the wrong bra,” said Bice, owner of La Lingerie on Madison’s Near East Side. “It’s the hardest piece of clothing to fit correctly.”

La Lingerie, which opened three years ago, offers bras from 10 brands in sizes from 30A to 44N, panties in five styles in sizes XS-5X and swimwear in sizes 2-22. Swimwear is carried year-round.

Bice and her staff fit each client with the correct bra because, as Bice explained, “every body is different and every bra is different. Sometimes a size means nothing. One client can walk out the door buying three different-sized bras. Rather than the measurements and alphabet letters, it’s about the specific fit because every woman is beautifully different.”

Bice, 28, began her lingerie experience about eight years ago while living in France through a study-abroad program at UW-Eau Claire. While there, she noticed the way French women carried themselves with grace. She pondered why women in the United States did not have such confidence and grace throughout their years.

After returning to the States, Bice worked part time at Victoria’s Secret.

She moved to Chicago and began working for a lingerie specialty shop. “This is really where my eyes opened about what ‘true’ lingerie is: beautiful styles for women of all sizes and shapes.” It was while working there that Bice decided she wanted to open her own lingerie shop.

Originally from Onalaska, Bice decided to move back to Wisconsin to be closer to family and ended up in Madison, where she found she couldn’t buy a bra anywhere nearby. “Not one shop carried my size, nor did they carry the brands that I enjoyed. I thought, ‘There must be more women out there like me!”

With the help of her family, nine months of preparation and a 25-page business plan, La Lingerie became a reality. “Before my first lingerie trade show in New York, I remember saying to my father, ‘I don’t have the money to go to New York,’” she said. “His response: ‘This could be the most important money you will ever spend.’ My father was right, and now with 2,000 clients served, La Lingerie is creating a wonderful lingerie experience for every woman.”

The business was one of just five independent North American lingerie retailers nominated this summer for a 2013 Best of Intima Best Shop award in the Personal Touch category.

“Come with an open mind and ready to be educated,” Bice said. “We work step-by-step and educational throughout the whole lingerie experience. We want women to empower themselves with great lingerie knowledge.”

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Emerging Businesses appears on the third Tuesday of each month. To suggest a business that has been open one to five years, contact Jill Carlson at jillcarlson1957@gmail.com.

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