Meet the Herts lingerie expert helping to reshape today’s women

In the pretty village of Wheathampstead a revolution in women’s underwear is quietly taking place. The fast-talking dynamo leading it is Jeanette Misseldine, whose No 1 Bra Company and glamorous shop – think velvet sofas, soft lighting and mirrored furniture – are both based here.

Entrepreneur, lingerie designer and garment technologist, Jen is on a mission to see women of every possible shape, size and age wear a bra that fits them perfectly - and comfortably. ‘Wearing the bra that’s right for you is empowering,’ she says, ‘You’ll look slimmer, walk taller, feel better. To see our customers in tears because, at last, they’ve found a bra that is comfortable, doesn’t dig in and looks good– that’s something emotional for me.’

Great British Life: Building relationships with customers is essential to the success of the business, says JenBuilding relationships with customers is essential to the success of the business, says Jen (Image: Evie-Grace photography)

Jen’s epiphany within in the bra market began in a changing room in Paris ‘I was on a business trip a few years ago with my husband, Dale, I needed a bra, so headed to Galeries Lafayette.’ Having trained in contour fashion at Leicester Poly (now De Montfort University) and gone on to enjoy a highly successful 30-year career in lingerie – designing for everyone from Marks & Spencer to Wonderbra, from Arcadia to Evans – Jen certainly didn’t need any help in finding a bra to fit – or so she thought. ‘I must have had around fifty bras in the changing rooms, so I’m not sure what the assistant thought I was doing. I was very frustrated, though: why couldn’t I find a comfortable one? I realised something had to change.’

In a nutshell, that ‘something’ involved changing the shape and design of the traditional underwired bra. Explains Jen, ‘I came up with a new, patented design where the wire is shaped away from the breast – no more digging in of the wires, no more nose-diving bust, and a side-smoothing design that means there’s none of that problem with excess flesh around the arms being pushed up when you don’t want it to be.’

Great British Life: It's all about making everyone woman look and feel as good as possible for Jeanette and her teamIt's all about making everyone woman look and feel as good as possible for Jeanette and her team (Image: Evie-Grace photography)

The No 1 Bra Company – ‘the name comes from us wanting to create the most comfortable, stylish foundation for outwear possible, so it’s the first bra you chose’ - was born. Aside from her own wide-ranging experience in lingerie design, Jen had other factors that helped her get her new design into production quickly. Her husband Dale, originally a lace-designer, now handles the financial side of the business and, perhaps most importantly, there’s Jen’s particular skill set. ‘In lingerie creation, you tend to have designers who are responsible for making a garment look as good as it can and technologists who make that design viable – I’m trained in both those skills; creative and practical. Plus I’m very solution-driven – whether at work, or at home, if I see a problem I’ve got to solve it!’

The business launched online in 2020 and Jen believes the lockdown period gave her and her team the chance to hone their service skills, taking clients online through the measuring process and always being willing to send and resend bras until the perfect fit has been achieved. These days, though, as well as ordering online, customers can come to the Wheathampstead shop itself but are there plans to see No 1 Bra stocked by other retailers? ‘No!’ Jen says firmly, 'Selling direct to our customers allows us to build personal relationships, which enables us to know exactly what new products, sizes, colours and colours they want and to give them the very best service. It also means we can offer premium products to our customers at lower prices.’

Great British Life: Ready for a fittingReady for a fitting (Image: Evie-Grace photography)

Meanwhile, in addition to patenting the No 1 bra both here in the UK, Europe and in the US, Jen has also launched and patented a No Bounce Sports Bra as part of her range. ‘I produced it in consultation with Casey Stoney. ex-Manchester United coach and ex-England player – we added things like loops to hold a heart monitor. Arsenal Under 21s women’s team are currently wearing it and loving it – it’s there for girls and mums in sport, and where it needs to be is in schools throughout the country – that’s the aim’. In between all this, Jen still acts as design consultant for other brands, too.

So does this busy woman – Mum to a son and daughter aged nine and 14 respectively – have any down time? ‘We’re all big football fans – I support Arsenal, Dale’s Manchester United and my son’s a Barcelona fan.’ Plenty of action, then, to keep them going. And then there are the ponies: ‘my daughter has a couple and is a very keen rider, so I’m often up at the yard with her.’ And does Jen ride? ‘Absolutely not – the thought of riding terrifies me - I got chased by a horse as a child, which put me off. But I absolutely love grooming them, brushing them – they’re like big dogs. I find it very relaxing.’ Making ponies feel good, making women feel good – it seems there’s a theme here…. - prices from £39-£58, sizes from 28-44 band, A-HH cup size.

Great British Life: Jeanette MisseldineJeanette Misseldine (Image: Evie-Grace photography)

Things Jen loves about Herts:

Originally from Rochester in Kent, Jen moved to Herts in 1999 and ended up settling in Wheathampstead with her family. ‘I’ve always found Herts people friendly and with a real sense of community,’ she says.

‘We’re brilliantly located here – in the countryside but with easy access to London, and to major airports for trips abroad to international trade fairs. It’s just a lovely place to be.’

Eating out is something we love doing in the county – Italian restaurant Zaza in Harpenden does a melt-in-the-mouth lamb shank that’s a particular favourite of mine.

Close easy walks in the area are something I appreciate – I’ll often take our dog, Dog, for a wander by the river Lea here in the village. She’s a hound and terrier mix so very tenacious - a lot like me!