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Holding steady

Madison’s Marx designs,
markets bras for generously endowed

Key to success is diversity of sizing

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(November 2008) – Every woman has experienced at some point the discomfort of an ill-fitting bra, particularly when exercising. An uncomfortable bra can even distract and negatively affect the performance of some athletes.

Barbara Marx

Photo by Konnie McCollum

Barbara Marx markets her Fabulous
Athletic Bra on the Internet from
her Madison, Ind., home.

After years of suffering, Madison, Ind., resident and entrepreneur Barbara Marx, an avid athlete herself, decided to create a line of athletic bras that offer both maximum support and comfort for women who need larger-sized bras. Her Fabulous Athletic Bras LLC is geared toward women who find it difficult to shop in traditional bra shops and outlets.
Barbara, 55, and her husband, Martin, 54, developed and designed the innovative bra while living in the mountains of southwest Idaho, where they enjoyed whitewater rafting, running, cross country skiing, show shoeing and hiking. Martin has worked for more than 30 years as a mechanical engineer, while Barbara, who has a master’s degree in Organizational Management, has been an entrepreneur for years. She owned a bridal shop for five years in Albuquerque, N.M., and also spent several years as a bra fitter for Nordstrom stores in Portland, Ore.
Barbara and Martin were on vacation in 2004 in Hawaii when she decided to go jogging. As usual, there were women out running and exercising in attractive sports bra and shorts. She complained to Martin that there were no such bras available for the more heavily endowed women.
“At that point, he challenged me to research and find any sport bra that was both attractive and comfortable for larger chested women,”she said. “I did extensive research and found there were no such bras available for women wearing Triple D cups or higher.”
In order for a bra to work properly, the band, which is the foundation of support, must work together with the straps, explained Barbara. The band should not move more than a quarter of an inch. Compression is a must for support in a sports bra in order to prevent bounce.
“The bounce can be painful, damaging and distracting if not held in check,” she said.
She and Martin got to work. With her knowledge of how bras should fit, and his engineering and design background, it wasn’t long before they created the Fabulous Athletic Bra. Their unique design involves layers of power mesh in the cup that helps control movement. The larger the cup, the more layers of power mesh. B cup bras have two layers of power mesh, while H cups have four layers of power mesh.
“The key to our success is the diversity of our sizing,” said Barbara. “We cover women up to size H. Those women have had to wear two and three bras in the past to exercise and suffer miserably.” She works with each individual customer to ensure she has a custom fit.
Her business is thriving, with orders coming in from all over the country and England and Canada. She said her top market is for women involved in equestrian sports such as dressage and jumping.
The Marxes recently moved from Idaho to Madison so Martin could take a job with Grote Industries. Their small-volume manufacturing is still operating out of Boise.
“We are looking for a large-volume manufacturer in the United States,” said Barbara. “We plan to always be an American-made product.”

• For more information about Fabulous Athletic Bra, call (812) 274-4062 or visit: www.fabulousathleticbra.com.

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