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  the ceo is going to be late for class.


  megan grassell founded her teen-targeted underwear company, yellowberry, at 17 and now, as a high-school senior, she is trying to juggle a very full schedule of classes, extracurricular activities, and running a burgeoning business. "to say it's taking over my life is a very small way to put it," grassell laughed during an interview with fortune. "but i love it."


  it was during a trip to the mall with mary margaret, her younger sister, that inspiration struck: "i was shopping for bras at the mall with my mom and little sister, and we went to a bunch of different stores looking for a good first bra for mary margaret, but there was nothing. there were jogging bras or these very sexual padded, push-up bras. i kept wondering, where is the cute little bra in fun colors? i realized that it just didn't exist. about a week later it hit me: if no one else is going to do it, i'm going to do it. i'm going to make bras for girls."


  to fund her startup, grassell raided her savings: "i worked every summer since sixth or seventh grade. first pumping gas and then i bussed tables and waitressed at a place called nora's, which is a fantastic restaurant. i saved all of that and used it to get my product to the prototyping phase."


  while grassell throws around words like "prototyping" now, actually developing prototypes for her bras presented a steep learning curve for the teen. "going into this process, i had no experience. i don't even know how to sew! if i get a hole in my jeans, i'm out of luck, because i don't know how to fix it," said grassell. "there are a lot of things that have to come together in order for a bra to be made. sourcing the fabric was a challenge, finding out where to produce and who to work with. i didn't know about quantities or anything. i had to learn all of that."


  to move from prototype to production, grassell turned to the crowdfunding site kickstarter. "the original goal was $25,000," said grassell, "and i raised almost $42,000, which was pretty exciting." it was also one of the most successful kickstarter campaigns ever for an underwear or lingerie startup, ever.


  with the kickstarter campaign completed, grassell found a production facility through a contact in her hometown of jackson hole, wyo. the factory, which is in los angeles -- and was vetted by her mom who was in california during one of mary margaret's soccer games -- has a low minimum order amount, which is good for a startup, but can also grow to meet increasing demand as necessary, which grassell thinks is important. "if i get a phone call asking for a huge order, i will make that happen," she said.


  that can-do attitude is what people expect from a ceo, but not necessarily from a teenaged girl. grassell admits that her age has been a challenge in doing business. "one of the biggest problems i had getting started was getting people to take me and my ideas seriously. i hope now they can see that i'm serious and that this is happening," said grassell, who comes across as a hybrid businesswoman: half rookie magazine editor savant tavigevinson, half spanx founder sara blakely. "i have a vision for the company. i know how i want it to grow, and i can't wait to see how it becomes established."

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