By Diane Bucka, California Business Journal correspondent
When Debra Corley walks into a room, “powerful” may not be the first word that comes to mind. Striking yet petite, the initial impression belies the fierce determination, tenacity and conviction that drove her to invent and market a revolutionary product that is all about empowerment.
Diagnosed with severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine) at the age of 12, Debbie faced challenges and adversity far beyond the painful self-esteem problems that many pre-teen girls endure. When her parents opted out of recommended surgery, she chose to dedicate herself to learning everything she could to enhance her circumstances. She fervently researched how to help her body heal and strengthen itself through nutrition and exercise.
Debbie, of all people, knows the importance of self-worth, and that body image supports esteem.
Yes, she faced teasing for her difference. But, rather than despair or feeling self-conscious about the curve in her spine, she focused her mind on being the best version of herself. In fact, it was the yearning to enhance her own strength and confidence that Tulifts™ was born.
Decades of working out herself and hearing from other women who prioritize being physically active, it became increasingly apparent that while sports bras may appear more fashionable, they haven’t become more functional, comfortable or flattering. So Debbie began her journey to solve the many shortcomings of existing options in workout wear.
What Are Tulifts Inserts and Why Do Women Want Them?
Tulifts are a revolutionary bra insert to replace the inadequate, flimsy ones that arrive with most sports bras.
“Women have been unhappy with conventional sports bras for so long, and there hasn’t been any real improvement,” Debbie says. “Tulifts inserts are a completely new concept, made with the highest quality materials and design details.”
The lightweight, breathable bra inserts are simply placed in any garment with built-in pockets – whether it’s a sports bra, swimwear, bralette or even an evening gown – and they stay in place to giving support and build confidence.
Tulifts’ inserts, a patent-pending technology, offers support for the outer, inner, and under a woman’s breast, a completely new concept in sports bras which securely conforms to natural curves in a way that standard inserts cannot.
“They allow women to engage in all types of activities – whether it’s being upside down in a yoga pose, diving to the ground in a volleyball game, lunging after tennis ball, or running without concern about coverage and support,” Debbie says. “My goal is for women to feel 100 percent secure, confident and comfortable when working out, with no distractions or obstacles to any activity.”
This innovative solution addresses issues many women have silently bemoaned, but (giggles aside) the struggles are real. One common complaint is feeling flattened or smooshed by overly tight garments that still fail to prevent bouncing. This compression also leads to stifling heat and unappealing pooling of perspiration.
Tulifts inserts are created in a breathable, moisture-wicking fabric that is machine washable, and the separation they provide enables cool containment in addition to a more flattering silhouette. They even come with their own lingerie bag.
It’s About Empowerment, Not Just Enhancement
As an added bonus to the functional benefits, the lift Tulifts inserts offers builds confidence and self-esteem.
“Tulifts inserts empower women with the freedom to really move freely while providing the confidence that comes with looking great,” Debbie says.
And she’s not the only one talking. Chelse Schipper, CEO of The Era Agency, has been so impressed with Tulifts that she considers them not just a brand, but a mindset.
“Every time I wear my Tulifts, I’m a happier, more confident person, and I feel more connected to others who have had times they felt self-conscious about their bodies,” she says.
Debbie’s commitment to empowerment extends beyond her products. In addition to supporting women with their workouts, Debbie also helps with a cause close to her heart. Laura’s House is a shelter and resource for victims of domestic violence, where she found aid at a critical point in her life. Grateful for the assistance she had received in her time of need, Debbie began volunteering to give back, helping to organize their annual Hope Golf Tournament.
She has plans in the works to develop a bracelet to sell with 100 percent of profits to benefit Laura’s House.
Debbie channeled her hardships into a pathway to connecting others going through similar experiences by becoming a domestic violence advocate.
Just as with any innovation, there were the usual obstacles to bringing a dream to reality. Starting at a very early age, Debra experimented with early prototypes of her unique invention using an unlikely, “Rube Goldberg-like” combination of Chinese food containers and parts of old bras. Once she advanced in pursuit of patents, she worked with Robert Schairer, a mechanical engineer from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo who coordinated with her on refinements to the design, materials, and manufacturing processes.
“I may not have had a wealth of experience, but I was determined to find the best way to get this done,” she says. “I researched tirelessly and approached people, often begging for five minutes to make a pitch and show them the prototype in person. Once I got in front of people, the benefits were clear and they were sold.”
Future Plans for Related Products
In doing product development research for Tulifts inserts, Debbie learned that breast and surrounding tissue is highly sensitive in women who have undergone radiation therapy or mastectomies in connection with breast cancer. She is currently working with a breast surgeon to develop even more innovative products using specialized materials that can assist women facing these challenges. Debbie also has a non-wire version in the clinical stages. Stay tuned, as she also has plans for an entirely new line of sports bras, bralettes and related garments.
Debra S. Corley
Tulifts LLC President/Owner