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Ewa Michalak


Riding on the bus to Lodz to meet Ewa Michalak, I broke out in a cold sweat. I had been anticipating this moment since I scheduled the interview and in the days before, I had found a frightening void of resource information and was left feeling utterly unprepared. I knew Ms. Michalak was an enigmatic figure, but I had not realized how thoroughly modern and entrepreneurial her story is. She taught herself to sew, raised through the industry ranks on her own merit, and her independent label thrives through the international reach of the Internet. In her own country, her brand is considered a small player while abroad, her products are discussed endlessly on social media, enthusiastically reviewed by bloggers, and purchased with the utmost consumer anticipation. I am enormously grateful to have had the pleasure of meeting Ewa and I am delighted to finally share this peek behind the curtain with you.


Ms. Michalak is a Lodz native and began her intimate apparel career as a seamstress or sewer. She eventually graduated to the technical and construction department, worked her way to the design team and finally, won an appointment as head designer. She eventually left the senior position to pursue freelancing and partnered with an impressive list of Polish businesses, including Kris Line, Konrad, Corin, Kinga, and Ava. She became the highest paid professional in the field but after a decade of freelancing, she grew weary of working for others and decided to start her own venture. Ms. Michalak is proud to say she can work at any level in her business and her past allows her to set higher standards for her employees. She will not tolerate excuses or complaints, when she knows herself what is possible from each department.


Her vision for the Effuniack or Ewa Michalak brand was simple: dressing the most women, with the most diverse range of body types, in a correctly fit bra. With a hint to the companies who deny these sizes exist or claim there's no demand for rare fits, she believes that there should be no excuses when it comes to providing a suitable garment for every woman's unique shape.  Her commitment to providing these impossible-to-find sizes is surprisingly deep! When I asked Ms. Michalak what her "dream bra" would be, I expected her to describe something colorful or eccentric. She said her ideal project is a lightweight bra with soft, delicate lace throughout the cups and thin straps, which would provide the utmost lift for women with largest cups. Her dedication to this inclusivity isn't a show or gimmick, the breadth of availability is her central passion.

Ms. Michalak isn't afraid to speak plainly about the size and scale of her company. Like all independent start-ups, financial constraints rule over many consumer policies and creative directions. Instead of mass season collections, the label prepares fifty bras in a limited size range and proceeds according to market demand to reduce costs. Their budget is too modest to handle a large volume of refunded returns so they allocate certain sizes to a special order process, which are not refundable and accrue a small fee. The artistic and creative process is unfortunately curtailed as well. Ms. Michalak must design what we buy, even if that may not be in line with her own instinct. The excitement over nonpadded or colorful bras is misleading since the majority of their sales derive from padded and basic styles. With an ironic laugh, Ms. Michalak told me that she never had to design a flesh toned bra before she launched her own company. Despite an artistic aversion, she complies with customer demand and noted that the business cannot simultaneously afford her personal projects and the size availability.

Mother and Son:  Ewa and Dominik Michalak
After explaining the decisions behind some of the more unpopular policies, Ms. Michalak was quick to point out the advantages of operating a small, family run company. She enjoys working alongside her sister and son and is happy to maintain a close rapport with her employees. When questioned about her average daily schedule, she replied happily that she designs continuously, answers emails, oversees the PayPal fiascos, and "gossips". There's an open, jovial nature to the Ewa Michalak office and workshop that reveals how intimate the company is.  She wants the business to grow and for sales to increase of course, but she's committed to expanding slowly so she may continue to oversee quality and keep the integrity of her vision intact. 

When I brought up swimwear and speciality items, Ms. Michalak sighed heavily. Speciality wear -- like basques and babydolls -- are difficult to produce, hard to sell and their modest forays into swimwear have proven troublesome. Two years ago, they had several bathing suits available on their website, but they moved their operation to another building and lost a significant amount of material. They ended up with enough fabric for their tops, with very little availability in the matching bottoms. Last summer, there was great call, from their customers and fans, for bra sized swimwear and they rushed to meet the demand. They didn't have a photo shoot booked with their models however so they decided to have some fun and take photographs of the bikinis on their employees. The workers, she said, had a great time, but the casual shots were widely criticized on their Facebook page. Ms. Michalak told me decisively that this season's options would be limited to solid black tops.

I asked many of the brands I met with about their annual or longterm goals. I heard that international expansion, improved online accessibility, and customer satisfaction were forefront for the future. Ms. Michalak had a unique response however, she answered she'd like to "lose weight, rest, and increase sales". We may only help her with the former, but she has certainly earned a calm moment. Her lingerie was the first to successfully break through the Poland-North America/U.K. barrier and her brand has grown steadily each year. Larger and wealthier companies would love to have the same presence, attention, and acclaim that flows her way. Internally, the company has focused on developing an amazingly ambitious project in the last year. Designed for women regardless of their individual breast type, the new S and 3DM bras have finally arrived en masse. Who deserves a long Caribbean vacation more than the inspiring, self-reliant and creative Ewa Michalak?!


11 Comments

  1. Great article! Ewa is such a genius. Ever since I started wearing her bras, I won't buy any other brand. You just reminded me that I haven't ordered anything for awhile so I went and placed a big order.

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    1. Thank you! I agree, she's a genius. I'm glad I could be of service in that ordering department! ;)

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    2. Same here. After I'd tried on my first EM bra, I realised nothing can match it in quality. I even had to simply throw away all my other bras, because I couldn't make myself to wear them again, and I'm not kidding.

      Thank you Cecily for this interview, now I know fore sure that Ewa Michalak is a real (and nice-looking) woman. I had my doubts before that it could be just a brand with a female name to make it look more "personal", and now I'm glad it's really personal. :)

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  2. So great to read this! EM bras are by far my favorite. Thanks Cecily!

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    1. Thank you so, so much. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed the post since comments like these keep me going! Truly, I appreciate your kind words more than you know.

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  3. Well, I don't see sales improving as long as she keeps Dominik in Customer care, at least international one. I don't know if it's the language barrier, but he comes of as rude, misinformed and uncooperative.
    I am willing to pay extra for special orders and the fact that it's a small family business, but I would like to be treated as family then, and instead I have the feeling Dominik wants to drive everyone with special orders away.
    This is why I decided to order just from the drop down box and do the band alteration myself if needed (hey, she doesn't scale cups anyway)just so I won't have to deal with her son.

    That said, I am impressed with Ewas work and I really hope she solves the strap issue. I for one don't want thin straps, I just want them more centered.

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    1. Hi Vee, thank you for commenting. I got the chance to spend a lot of time with Dominik when I visited the workshop/office and I think your suspicions are correct that the language barrier does interfere with communication. Honestly, many of the Polish people I've contacted have had a similarly brisk tone or their words didn't translate a lot of warmth. Dominik happens to be a part time student, in addition to working other roles in the Ewa Michalak company and he's inundated with emails regarding sizing, special orders, returns, etc. He's the only person at the company's location who speaks English and feels terribly self-aware that his English isn't perfect. I don't want to include this info to excuse every word Dominik's ever written, but to try and put a human face to his name. In straight email communication and a highly charged situation (and every situation with money is!), it's easy to forget he's a kid who's trying to do his best and a human like all the rest of us. Edyta, who runs the FB English page sometimes and lives far away from Lodz, might be someone you'd like to contact too.

      I think your comments about family businesses is interesting too. The Polish lingerie companies I met with -- Samanta, Ewa Bien, Avocado, Ewa Michalak, Comexim, Corin -- are ALL family businesses. I don't necessary think these businesses mean to treat their customers like family, but that it's one way business is done there and it's an intimate, profitable, and convenient way to run a company. Of course they'd like to offer the best customer service, but the idea in the US is that these businesses are unique and sell themselves on the premise that they're family run. The expectation of being treated like family comes along because of the expectations a company creates with this marketing method. In Poland, it's not a gimmick or PR aspect -- families simply work together on mutually beneficial endeavors.

      Oh gosh, I hope this helps clarify a bit. :)

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    3. I am not sure what you mean exactly by saying that Dominik is 'rude', but I think it may be caused by the lingual (or cultural) difference. I am Polish and I am often hearing that in English-speaking world mails are 'too formal', 'extremely polite' etc. In Poland most people try to be brief. It is considered normal if someone replies only with 'Yes', 'No' or 'OK' and their initials, not even a full name. I for one always write my e-mails in a very polite way, even to my friends, but I know it is absolutely not common in my country. And it does not mean that people are rude - it is just the fact that they focus on plain information rather than the way it is delivered.

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  4. Ah, is it true that "custom" sizes are alterations to the standard sizes and not entirely custom made? That could help explain the discrepancies in fit. Maybe? Just a thought.

    As for customer service, personally I'm on the fence about it. Up to a certain point I thought it was brisk but fine, but with one order that had a particularly short band (several inches different than the same size in the same style) I sent an email to ask about it and was told I could purchase an extender (and pay full 45PLN shipping) if I wanted. That made me really hesitant to order again. After all, I've placed several orders with them, spent a lot of money trying several different (unreturnable) sizes to find the right fit. Then once I thought I had the right fit, I was disappointed with inconsistencies. But, I was willing to be accommodating about it (i.e. asking about an extender instead of trying to return the bra as faulty). So I was pretty annoyed with their response and decided not to order again, which is so frustrating because I want to like them and I like the idea of supporting a small business!

    Oh well, maybe things will get better as they grow.

    Hoping to try some of the other Polish brands you've tested!

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    1. Oh gosh, I'm so sorry you had such a disappointing experience with them. I think you're right, they're small and independent, not a GIGANTIC label like Freya and that means there will be some major growing pains. Who knows what their future holds? I hope you'll like another Polish company too, I'm working on getting them over here ASAP. ;)

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