Lots of women struggle with post-pregnancy weight, but few launch multimillion-dollar companies around it. After the birth of her second child, Susan Ledyard saw store shelves lined with shapewear for women’s bottom halves. “But that’s not the half that was my problem,” she says.
Creating something for the top half became Ledyard’s goal. “I grew up with three generations of women clothing designers,” she says. “I learned to sew on my aunt’s pedal-operated Singer sewing machine.”
Ledyard, however, takes full advantage of technology: design software, seamless stitching, and specially made fabric. From her Kennett Square home, the mother of two created four unique styles under the CASS Luxury Shapewear label.
Most thought Ledyard nuts to enter a segment of the industry dominated by Oprah-endorsed Spanx. But she persevered. Attending her first industry trade show on her own, she stood in her booth and waited to see what would happen. “I sold $50,000 worth of goods at my first show,” says Ledyard. “And I was interviewed by Vogue and O magazines. The writers said they’d never seen any fabric or design like mine.”
The CASS brand is now sold in Bliss spas, upscale women’s boutiques and online. For Macy’s, Ledyard created the WearCASS label. She did the same for Anthropologie under Camilla Staerk.
In 10 years, Ledyard’s company has done $10 million in sales—and she likes the shape of things to come.