Biographical / Historical
Lisa Lindahl was frustrated by the inadequacy of her everyday bra when she began jogging in the early 1970s. When her sister, Victoria Woodrow began jogging she met with the same issues and called Lisa to ask what she did about it. Commiserating over their problems, Victoria asked, "What do you do about all the breast movement? It's so uncomfortable." And Lisa said, "I don't know. It really is uncomfortable." Victoria said, "Why isn't there a jock strap for women?" Lisa laughed back and said, "Yeah, same idea, different part of the anatomy. Wouldn't that be great?" The sisters hung up laughing and Lisa sat down and opened up a spiral notebook to record her thoughts and design criteria for this "jock bra." "Here's a bra made just for jogging. What would it do?" And Lindahl wrote, "Okay, the straps would not fall off my shoulders and there wouldn't be any hardware to dig in and it would be comfortable and maybe even breathable, and it would stop my breasts from bouncing."
Lindahl engaged her childhood friend Polly Palmer Smith in her effort to solve the bra problem. They found no suitable products in retail stores, but were inspired by Lisa's husband, Al Lindahl, who took a jock strap and pulled it over his head and down over his chest and said, "Hey ladies, here's your jock bra." Lisa said, "I had to get into the act, so I jumped up and said, "Let me try it. Let me try." And I pulled his jock strap up and over my head and pulled the pouch over my breast and the waistband of the jockstrap went around my rib and I kind of jumped up on bed and I said, "Polly, Polly, look at this, look at this." They went to multiple stores and inquired but could not find a bra that fit their needs--a bra that kept the breasts pressed flat against the chest and eliminated motion. They also wanted something without seams and hooks, wire or other metal elements. Lindahl, along with Polly Palmer Smith, a childhood friend from New Jersey, sewed a pair of jockstraps together creating a few prototypes.
Smith introduced Lindahl to Hinda Schreiber, a fellow costume designer and classmate at New York University. Schreiber worked as an assistant to Smith at the Champlain Shakespeare Festival held at the University of Vermont in the summer of 1977. With interest in and enthusiasm for the idea of creating more jogbras, Schreiber joined Lindahl and Smith. They called their product the "jockbra" but later changed it to "Jogbra," figuring that the word "jock" might be a turn-off for some women. On November 20, 1979, US Patent 4,174,717 for an athletic brassiere was issued to the three co-inventors. Subsequent US patents include:
Eugenie Z. Lindahl, Hinda S. Schreiber, and Polly P. Smith, Des. 259,370 for a brassiere, 1981; and US 4,311,150 for an athletic brassiere, 1982.
Eugenie Z. Lindahl and Hinda Schreiber, Des. 260,445 for an athletic shirt, 1981 and Des. 301,518 for a brassiere, 1989.
LaJean Lawson and Hinda Miller, US 6,083,080 for a protective brassiere with local energy absorption, 2000.
Lesli R. Bell and Eugenie Z. Lindahl, US 6,860,789 for a compression garment, 2005.
Lindahl started the company Jogbra, Inc. in 1977 and then re-named it SLS, Inc. (for Smith, Lindahl, Schreiber) in early 1978. As President of the company, Lindahl issued equal shares to herself, Smith and Schreiber. The name changed again to Jogbra Inc., for a brief time, before finally becoming JBI, Inc. in the early 1980s. Marketing their new product (with start-up capital lent by Miller's father, Bruce L. Schreiber) was a challenge. According to Lindahl, buyers for sporting goods stores were "squeamish" about displaying bras, which did not look like lingerie, but an athletic garment. Stores that did feature the jogbra were pleased by how well it sold. Miller placed strong emphasis on the point of purchase advertising and packaging. The jogbra line of products expanded to include a women's and men's sport brief, the Thermobra and Thermobrief. Soon, a number of other manufacturers, including Vanity Fair, Olga, and Warner, were entering the sports bra market.
JBI, Inc. was bought by Playtex Apparel, Inc. in 1990 and Playtex Apparel sold it to the Sara Lee Corporation in 1991. Throughout these transitions, Schreiber served as began as Vice-President and, in 1983, became President of the then JBI, Inc. when Lindahl became CEO and Chair of their Advisory Board of Directors. Smith was never active in the company and had become a minority shareholder. When JBI, Inc. was sold to Playtex Apparel, Miller and Lindahl became co-presidents of the new Jogbra Division until Lindahl left the company in 1991. Miller (née Schreiber) continued to serve as president and became CEO of the Champion Jogbra Division of Sara Lee in 1994. Miller left the company in 1997 to pursue other interests.
Lisa Z. Lindahl (November 23, 1948-) was born Eugénie Louise Zobian in Montclair, New Jersey to Florence and Ernest Zobian. The Zobians had four children, Ernest Jr., Mark, Victoria, and Eugénie, known as "Lisa." Lindahl graduated from Vernon Court Junior College in Newport, Rhode Island (1968), the Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School (1969), and later graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor's degree in education . She received a master's degree in culture and spirituality from Holy Names University in California in 2007. In 1970, Lindahl married Alfred Lindahl and divorced in 1978. Lindahl was diagnosed with epilepsy at age four and would later serve as Senior Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Epilepsy Foundation from 1991 to 2000 where, as Chair of the Women and Epilepsy Task Force she brought legitimacy to the gender differences in epilepsy and epilepsy treatments. In 2001, Lindahl co-founded, with Dr. Lesli Bell, the Lightning2 Company (dba Bellisse) to design and market their patented Compressure Comfort Bra, a compression garment for women suffering from lymphedema. Lindahl is the author of two books: Beauty As Action, The Way of True Beauty and How Its Practice Can Change Our World (2017) and Unleash the Girls, The Untold Story of the Invention of the Sports Bra and How It Changed the World (And Me), (2019). She continues to write and pursue other artistic interests.
Hinda Schreiber Miller (April 18, 1950-) was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She graduated from the Parsons School of Design (B.F.A., 1972) and from New York University (M.F.A., 1976). A costume designer by training, Miller taught costume design at the University of South Carolina. Miller later became a Vermont state senator (2002-2013) representing the Chittenden District which includes all of Chittenden County. Miller ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 2006. She is presently president of DeForest Concepts, a consulting firm specializing in small business and the promotion of women entrepreneurs. Miller is married to Dr. Joel Miller and has two children.
Polly Palmer Smith (November 10, 1949-) was raised in Montclair, New Jersey. She graduated from the Moore College of Art & Design with a (B.F.A., 1971) and New York University (M.F.A., 1975). She joined the Jim Henson Company in 1978 where she worked as a costume designer for twenty-five years. Smith worked on films such as the Dark Crystal, The Muppets Take Manhattan, and Labyrinth. Some of her television work includes Fraggle Rock and Muppet Treasure Island. Smith received Emmy nominations for her designs for The Jim Henson Hour (1988) and Muppets Tonight (1996) and she received seven Emmy awards for her designs on Sesame Street. Smith also co-designed costumes for the television series The StoryTeller (1986-1988) which won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for Best Costumes in 1989.