She is known in her local circles as the Bra Whisperer — and for good reason. Chelsea Kipp, store manager at Mill City Running and Saint City Running in Minnesota, is passionate about bras and bra fitting at the two stores owned by Jeff and Bekah Metzdorff and has not only developed the Bra Shop concept, but has also created the “Bras for Bros” teaching manual for, as the name suggests, those runners who don’t wear run bras.
“The project that sits closest to my heart has been bringing the Bra Shop to life with the support of Brooks,” she told Running Insight+ in a feature article in the January 11 issue, explaining that the Bra Shop demonstrates their commitment to inclusivity to a new community of runners — a space where there are no barriers to running.
“I was given the exciting task of helping bring this vision to life and have spent the year continuing to dream up ways to connect bra-wearing customers with the support they need, figuratively and in the form of a great run bra,” she explains.
When she first developed the Bra Shop concept for Saint City Running, part of that commitment was the goal to have all of the female staff members become certified Fit Experts by Brooks.
“In most other retailers, there are one or two individuals that function as ambassadors for the Brooks run bras and are given a bit of extra training from the Brooks team virtually,” Kipp explains, adding that once she had all of their Fit Experts trained she then wanted to create a reference sheet that the men on the staff could use to guide them if they found themselves working with a potential run bra wearer.
Thus, “Bras for Bros” was born — described as an at-a-glance refresher for the 90-minute training session the Fit Experts went through. All Mill City and Saint City staff are encouraged to use it whenever they have a question or need a reminder on the specifics of the Brooks run bras they carry.
“Though it’s a fairly rare occurrence, if there isn’t a Fit Expert on the sales floor then men of our staff can put it to use to walk a prospective customer through a fitting themselves,” she explains.
Bras for Bros contains talking points about each of the run bra styles in the stores as well as an overview on how to actually measure and fit someone — the measurements needed to calculate sizing and recommended questions to ask to narrow down and recommend specific styles.
“I wrote it in such a way that our staff can have it out at the Bra Shop table and there’s nothing that I wouldn’t share with a customer,” Kipp says. “I think it adds another layer of confidence, especially for our male staff members as well as the customer to know that they’re referencing this material to make educated recommendations to them.”
Kipp recognizes that the primary run bra consumer is most comfortable being fit by one of the women on the staff, but says there have been some nice stories of men successfully putting the Bras for Bros info to use.
“We’ve got high school boys on our team that I’ve heard confidently let customers know about our run bra fittings and even had one of our men take someone through a whole run bra fitting — measurements and everything,” she reports.
Kipp is currently working on the 2.0 version of Bras for Bros and developing her run bra staff training for the year. They are training every staff member in run bra fittings this time around.
“Just as I can successfully sell a shoe I haven’t run in, I believe that even folks that don’t wear run bras can be taught how to sell them with confidence,” she says.