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Masha Titova is a fashion designer who was born in Boston, raised in Moscow and consulted in Los Angeles. After working for Kanye West and BCBGMaxazria she took the leap and moved back to Boston where she officially launch TITOV in 2019. Pulling from inspiration from living around the world, she’s able to cater to a unique customer with one of a kind designs. She’s motivated by wanting every woman feeling like what they are wearing is made for them. She is a member of Rebecca Minkoff’s Female Founders Collective, and has been featured in The Boston Globe & NBC10.
Lindsay Gearheart: Tell me about your background and what led you to start TITOV.
Masha Titova: My background is all based around apparel and fashion. I’m from the Massachusetts area, and went to MassArt for fashion design. After graduating, I moved to Los Angeles and ended up working for BCBGMaxazria and Kanye West’s Yeezy brand. I was doing a lot of product development and production, and found out that I really enjoyed doing the backend logistics more than even design. I worked there for a while and consulted for a couple other smaller startups.
Basically the entire time I had been working out in Los Angeles, I would get irritations from the bras I was wearing. I would realize if I had a 10 -14 hour day, I wasn’t able to stay in the same bra all day. It had just become that I was wearing sports bras for comfort. But every time I knew I was wearing a sports bra, I felt awful, even though no one else could see it. This lifestyle of always being on the go and never having time to switch out of that uncomfortable bra, it was driving me crazy. I started talking to friends, being like, “Am I the only one that’s this miserable, or do you have brands you like?” And across the board, everyone said cheap or expensive, no one liked any of their bras. I would even say I’m more of a typical size that you would be able to find. The moment I talked to any of my friends who were an E or F cup size or larger, they would say, “It gets even worse for us because we can’t even find our size! If we can find our size, we don’t even care what it looks like because we don’t know the next time we are going to be able to find it.”
I have always wanted to have my own brand, it was always just a matter of what direction I wanted to go in. So the more and more I dug into it, I found this was an actual need, that it’s something interesting and challenging. Why aren’t brands expanding their size ranges? Why aren’t brands using better materials?
About a year ago, I realized I didn’t really like California. I wanted to be back on the East Coast. My plan was to move to New York, get a job, and keep researching on the side. My family convinced me to move back home and do it full time. So that’s when I moved back to Boston with a supportive family to do it full time. I found a manufacturer in Boston, and we went live on the website in June 2019.
LG: How have you found things as a fashion company in Boston, instead of another city better known for fashion?
MT: My original thought, especially going to fashion school in Boston, is that I’d have a bad experience with it. People were always like, “You just draw all day, how cute.” That attitude and mentality drove me crazy and it got exhausting fighting with people. I felt like I was going to come back and have to explain myself and prove myself, but honestly, I have found such amazing people [here]. I feel like a lot has changed since the last time I lived here. Really it’s been super supportive and just completely the opposite of what I expected to come back to.
Not only that, but the more and more time that goes by, I realize because there aren’t a lot of fashion companies here, people are really intrigued and interested in it. I feel like having been in either LA or New York I would have more so gotten lost in the shuffle. I am starting to see the benefits of being back in Boston.
LG: Did I see that your clothes are manufactured in East Boston?
MT: Yes! Our smaller runs are actually done in house mainly made to order, and our larger more core styles that we know we want to keep around are manufactured in East Boston.
LG: So who’s your target audience? How have you integrated feedback and desires from them?
MT: I would say it’s more so the 30+ age range. Because of the price point, I don’t think that the college-aged student would really want to splurge. I have come to realize that it’s usually anyone who’s really serious about finding a good bra. After years of not being able to find one that fits well, or is comfortable, that’s when they try mine on and they’re like, “Yes, we love it.”
In general, I am trying to target an even older woman. I had a photoshoot scheduled for April with some really amazing women to show and have more people see themselves in the photos, but everything unfortunately got cancelled because of the pandemic. Right now, the models are on the younger side, but honestly it’s because it’s all of my friends that model. Just out of the way of cutting costs, but it’s also nice because it’s a larger range of girls — they don’t all look the same. I know age-wise I want older women to be in the photos because in a general sense, older women are not represented in any category. Unless it’s at Gap, but not every woman wants to shop at Gap. I want to be more across the board with that.
LG: What do you do to address the issue of buying something with such a unique fit online?
MT: I am in a couple of boutiques, and we do really well with that. We get a lot of repeat orders from people that have seen us and tried us on in the boutiques that come directly. But also we have free shipping and free returns. I am launching virtual fittings as well. With everything happening, it just makes more sense.
Post-pandemic, I feel like for someone living in Chicago that doesn’t have the opportunity to come to a Boston store or into our office, this is a great chance to talk to us about a style they might like, if they want a variation, or maybe they don’t know their size. Just another way to engage with our customers without having to physically be with them.
LG: I saw that you’re a member of the Female Founders Collective run by Rebecca Minkoff. Tell me what that entails.
MT: It’s amazing. It’s all virtual, which has been very convenient with everything happening. They have meetups depending on what city you live in, and they have a big conference in February. But everything is in a Slack channel, a Facebook group, and an email chain. Basically, if you have any questions you can ask, “Has anyone ever worked with this retailer?” and within 48 hours I will have eight people be like, “Yes I did and we loved it,” or “We weren’t super happy with it and we advise you not to work with them,” and it’s super honest opinions. Or people will say, “Hey we’re applying for a grant, could you take two seconds to vote for us,” “A new retailer is looking for brands” or “This brand is looking for a photographer.” It’s such a vast range of expertise and people who know people. I literally could not be happier with the experience.
LG: How did you get started with the collective?
MT: I am part of The Wing that is out of Boston. During one of the events that they had, Rebecca Minkoff actually spoke. She talked about female founders and told us all to apply. That same day I went home and applied. It was great because Rebecca Minkoff has her own brand as well as doing the Female Founders Collective and is really involved in trying to help new businesses. In February, we actually held a popup in Rebecca Minkoff’s SoHo store for Valentines Day, and that was all through the Female Founders Collective as well.
LG: Have you collaborated with other designers, or writers and artists in Boston?
MT: Yeah, actually. The community manager, Susanna, has been doing a few blog posts for our website. I just hired a creative consultant in the Boston area as well. Outside of Boston, I have a few dancer friends in New York that have modeled for me, and photographer friends that have helped out. It’s kind of amazing.
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