Breaking boundaries: Dora L. International Founder Focuses on Foundations that Give Confidence

Can you tell our readers about your background? 

Growing up my family owned a popular record company in Hong Kong. Our label produced top local artists with some of the bestselling albums in the Cantopop genre. At an early age, I was involved in creating the artists’ public image—choosing fabrics and custom-designing gowns and suits for their concerts, often traveling to Europe to shop the couture houses of Paris and Milan. I quickly understood that foundation garments made all the difference in the artist’s overall appearance.

Later, I launched Dora L. International (DLI), a global intimate apparel company that develops trendsetting and innovative products from concept to completion.  We offer solutions for brands that seek to create bras for women who crave sophistication and quality.  DLI is known as the company that can create what you want when everyone else says that it cannot be done!

What inspired you to start your business? 

I was a curvy growing up. Finding clothes that fit and looked good was impossible, so I started designing and making my own. After graduating from design school, my first endeavor was creating eveningwear for full-figured women. To me, the industry has always underserved the curvy woman. 

From there I started to focus on research and development, innovations, trends, and creating unique bras and panties, robes, sleepwear, etc. that help our partner brands succeed. I found that I had a keen ability to create foundations that are confidence boosting, feel and fit great. Dora L. International is recognized for exceptionally well-fitting bras in band sizes 32-54 and cup sizes A-K.  We have been the recipient of numerous awards including the Lane Bryant Vendor of the Year Award for creativity and innovation, The Avenue Partner of Excellence, and the industry’s HUG Awards.

Where is your business based?

Dora L. International is based in Los Angeles, CA.  We also have offices on the East Coast, Hong Kong, and in Australia.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

Being a stylist first taught me how important intimate apparel layers are to the shape and support of the body, and to the confidence that comes from feeling beautiful and free. My passion evolved from styling to design and now everything from the first concept to completion. From there I created my business plan, pitched my ideas, and developed a team of industry experts from around the world.   

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business? 

The foundation for raising awareness for our business is to have an amazing product.  I always ask myself: Would I buy this? Would I buy it again? Would I recommend it to someone else?  Once you have that in place word of mouth is extremely powerful.  Since we are experts in the field, I also keep in close touch with members of the press who come to us for insights and advice on the industry.  Having good communication and keeping in touch with all levels of the industry helps keep you top of mind.

Also, I always think about the end consumer.  My motto is “Confidence is the sexist thing you can wear” and that’s what drives our business.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them? 

When I was first starting out, one collection that I created was priced too high. I learned this after the product was completed. This experience taught me to price a project from the final retail price and work backwards.  It also taught me to know the difference between the product and retail price point.  These are valuable lessons that have had a positive impact on my business for the long term and I am glad that it happened during our first year in business.

How do you stay focused?

Staying focused requires you to love what you do, take breaks and enjoy life, and find inspiration along the way.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition? 

Perhaps what’s most impressive about Dora L. International is our relentless pursuit of the new materials and technologies that we adamantly incorporate, ensuring both the artistry and femininity of every design. We offer technologies not found in other brands, like our signature thin, lightweight micro-lined foam pads that shape and support without adding volume. Our industry leadership is also found through our innovations including cooling bras, wireless bras, and bringing sustainable solutions to our brand partners.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business? 

Similar to other companies, we have a website and are working on updates, and we post and do outreach on LinkedIn, etc. Prior to the pandemic we attended tradeshows globally and have a plan for our sales team.  I truly believe that if you produce a good product that makes you proud, even though it may cost more, all other areas, including marketing will flourish.  Make whatever necessary changes so that you have the product that you want. Never underestimate word of mouth, good relationships, and the ability to create products from a trend that seemed impossible.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs? 

I have a few pieces of advice based on my experience!  New entrepreneurs should know that when you are young you can make mistakes which make you wiser as you get older.  Also, every entrepreneur needs to work for someone else and be an employee. Get experience and learn from other people’s and your own mistakes. This way you don’t have to pay for them! Lastly, use minimal resources for maximum productivity.  This includes expenses, manpower, and working smarter while staying focused on quality and not just quantity.

What’s your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

Because we always need to know about trends, WGSN is an online trending service that we value.  We use it to discover global trends about fabrics, color, embellishments, functionality, and what is happening around the world. Sourcing Journal is another valuable resource because of the nature of the business.   As I mentioned earlier, the 3D design software has become essential for our mission of sustainability.

What’s your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

Dora L. International has made a commitment to 3D Virtual Sampling technology.  It is a way that we are able to reduce the amount of harmful waste produced, shorten production times, and lower costs.  Several years ago, when the capabilities were first being talked about, it seemed unreal.  Then we began to see how it was being used for various types of apparel, including t-shirts, which are one dimensional and made for a good testing ground.  Today, the technology and the people who have been trained on various systems have matured, allowing us to fully embrace all of the positive aspects of virtual sampling. It is my favorite business tool because it meets the needs our clients and our company on so many levels.

Who is your business role model? Why? 

My mother was tough but had the most amazing entrepreneurial spirit.

How do you balance work and life? 

Since we are a global company, we are able to run 24/7 with a great work-life balance.  During the day I work with my team in North America and Europe. After dinner, at about 8pm, I start working with Hong Kong, because it is their morning. We are able to always be focused on quality control, production, and speaking with clients with quick response times. It helps us to work faster than most companies. 

In a lot of ways this gives flexibility to staff because we know what needs to get done and there are natural breaks in the day as the next group comes online.  For example, we start working on Sunday night since that is Monday morning in Asia. Friday is a quieter day since it is Saturday in Asia. There is a balance for everyone which I think is extremely important.

What’s your favorite way to decompress? 

It’s important to take a break and visit places that are inspiring. It opens your mind to new ideas and concepts. The shape of a flower or the color of a body of water have found their way into several collections. I also find it very important to have a regular exercise routine—I love Zumba! Be sure to surround yourself with the people and pets you love.

What do you have planned for the next six months? 

Our focus for the next six months and beyond is sustainability.  That is our company goal and the way we achieve it is through our customers. We offer them products that focus on sustainability and remain in budget. For example, we are now creating samples with 3D modeling technology. This allows the client to see a product more quickly, and reduces resources such as materials, dyeing, and printing. We are also focused on recycled and renewable materials such as bamboo, which also has anti-bacterial. Each step of the way, DLI is asking, “What can we do that makes us a more thoughtful and sustainable company for today and the future?” 

How can our readers connect with you?

Visit our website at or LinkedIn.


BIO –Dora Lau founded Dora L International, Inc., is known for her commitment to utilizing innovative materials and cutting-edge technologies to create intimate apparel from concept to completion.  Lau has consistently raised the bar with the introduction of each new season’s collections for the world’s leading brands. Her products are known for unparalleled functional sensitivity and a beautiful aesthetic.

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.