It all started with two slightly used sewing machines and a man with a whole lot of ambition.
The year was 1939, and a young, soon-to-be-entrepreneur named Frank Farino had just found out that the Cleveland bra company that he worked for was closing its doors. Little did he know at the time that this temporary setback was actually a blessing in disguise. "When one door closes, another one opens," as the saying goes.
A second bit of divine providence came in the form of the "severance package" that Frank received from his former employers. In lieu of the vacation pay he was owed, instead, Frank was given two well-used, but entirely serviceable, sewing machines, along with four sales accounts and the tidy sum of $240.
So, suddenly out of a job but equipped with two sewing machines, some business contacts, and a bit of cash, Frank decided that the best way to re-join the ranks of the gainfully employed was to do what he knew best: make bras and sell bras.
The challenges, and subsequent triumphs, didn't end there. It was the early 40's, after all, and the war was on. Rationing was in full effect in the U.S., as the country conserved virtually everything in order to support the war effort. This led to a shortage of the raw materials used to manufacture intimate apparel. So, how would Frank keep his fledgling company afloat without product to sell?
He quickly realized that maternity and nursing bras were not classified as intimate apparel. They were, in fact, medical items and were considered to be just as necessary as crutches and bandages.
So, Frank Farino's bra company quickly became Frank Farino's maternity and nursing bra company.
Today, Leading Lady is one of the country's oldest and most successful intimate apparel manufacturers. We specialize in quality lingerie for mothers-to-be and new moms, as well as full-figure bras, sleep/leisure bras and other specialty lingerie and accessories.
It's been nearly three-quarters of a century, but Frank Farino's original vision is still alive and well here at Leading Lady. We remain a family company with Frank's descendants still at the helm. And we're still in the business of making and selling maternity and nursing bras, just like Frank was all those years ago.
Leading Lady is founded after Frank Farino purchases the Cleveland bra company for which he worked. The selling price, in lieu of back vacation pay, was the tidy sum of $240, plus two sewing machines and four sales accounts.
The war years point Frank Farino and Leading Lady in the direction of maternity and nursing bras since they are considered to be medical devices and are not subject to raw-materials rationing.
During the 40s and 50s, Leading Lady maternity and nursing bras are only available in sterile, white cotton, in keeping with their medical usage.
The 60s and 70s bring about a renewed interest in quality and fashion. At the same time, maternity and nursing bras find new respectability, and the advent of washing machines creates the need for products that are more durable. Leading Lady answers the challenge with consistently well-made products that stand up to the rigors of modern life. New fabrics, colors and styles also enter the Leading Lady product lineup, enabling women to maintain their personality and sense of style while being pregnant or nursing a baby.
Leading Lady forms a long-standing business relationship with JCPenney and sells nursing bras both in their catalogs and in their stores, giving women everywhere easier access to Leading Lady products.
Target begins selling private-label Leading Lady products as the first nursing bras to be offered in their stores.
WalMart begins selling private-label Leading Lady nursing bras in their stores across the country.
The nursing-bra industry witnesses a dramatic renaissance as Leading Lady invents the nursing camisole. After witnessing the popularity of fashion camisoles and tank tops during a fact-finding trip to New York City, Leading Lady's Director of Design returns to her studio to create a unique camisole with breastfeeding functionality. The nursing cami is born, and goes on to become the number one nursing product in the U.S. Today, the Leading Lady nursing cami is sold on our online store, as well as other major retailers.
Leading Lady nursing bras become available for purchase online at Walmart.com.
Leading Lady focuses part of its innovative spirit and technical expertise in the direction of fuller figures. The result is an exclusive, new line of
Leading Lady bras that specializes in
larger sizes up to 52G, catering
to the unique needs of
Leading Lady nursing and full-figure bras become available for purchase on JCPenney.com.
Target.com begins selling private-label Leading Lady nursing bras and camisoles in their online store.
Leading Lady nursing bras become available at Gap.com.
The Leading Lady Website is the pre-eminent source for information, dialogue, guidance and product selection among both nursing and full-figured women. LeadingLady.com is a vibrant, online community of like-minded women who appreciate style, fit and quality.