They are based in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire and currently employ over 700 people. Bravissimo also sell clothing under the Pepperberry brand which was launched in March 2011.
Founder Sarah Tremellen began as a freelance TV and Radio researcher for the BBC before quitting eight months later aged 25 to have a baby. Whilst pregnant, Sarah found it difficult to find a good choice of bras that fit her when she went up to a G Cup.
In 1995 after giving birth, Sarah and her friend Hannah Griffiths tried to do something about it. They decided to take an eight week business course which culminated in presenting a business plan to their local bank manager. Their presentation won them a £10,000 bank loan to help them start Bravissimo.
Working in Sarah’s living room of her Twickenham flat, they made a catalogue to sell by mail order with all the best bras they could find and started a mailing list of around 75 people – mostly friends and family. Sarah then telephoned several women’s magazines and newspapers, and within a month got coverage in the Daily Mail bringing in 1,000 requests for a catalogue.
In 1996 they were able to move out of Sarah’s Twickenham flat and 12 months later Sarah and her husband Mike bought Hannah out of the business. In November 1999, Bravissimo opened its first shop in Ealing which is one of the 21 stores nationwide they currently operate.The next year Sarah’s husband Mike left his job at Tetley to become the business operations director.
In 2001 Bravissimo relocated to their current headquarters in Leamington Spa.
Bravissimo has been in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to work for list for since 2007 when they came 19th and most recently in 2012 they were awarded 10th place. The list rates a company’s performance on 8 key factors which takes into account things such as pay, leadership, social impact and personal growth. They were awarded 99th, 26th,24th and 8th place respectively between 2008 – 2011.
In 2011 Bravissimo was nominated for the Multiple Retailer of the Year award at the UK Lingerie Awards but lost out to Agent Provocateur (lingerie).