ROTTERDAM – As a bra expert, Rotterdam resident Jené Luciani Sena has been helping women find the right fit for well over a decade.
After losing her job at the start of the pandemic, she found a way to keep doing so by designing her own line of bras with embedded crystals. Called The GemBra, it garnered the attention of QVC and was launched on the network’s “Fashion’s Night In” program earlier this week.
“This is an uplift, full-coverage bra that has the ability to not only uplift your body but also, she says, your soul,” said QVC host Shawn Killinger during the launch.
For Sena, whose brand name is Jené Luciani, the line is a long time in the making.
The entrepreneur grew up in Hudson, where her mother owned a clothing store and she would often help out. Her career started in the Capital Region, as a producer for News Channel 13. After a few years working in the news business, she realized that she was more interested in covering fashion and eventually, she landed a job at a fashion public relations firm downstate, covering major fashion companies. Around the same time, she started writing a fashion column for a luxury magazine called the Wag, based in Westchester county.
Her first writing assignment there sparked what would become the bulk of her career: helping people finding the right bra. Through her research, she found that many women were unhappy with the bras they had and some were struggling with body image issues and other health concerns that made bra shopping uncomfortable.
Sena related to the latter. Growing up, she’d had a breast deformity; “I would do all this stuff to hide it and look normal and it just really impacted my life,” Sena said.
With this in mind, she decided to write “The Bra Book,” a guide to finding the right bra. It was published by BenBella Books in 2009 and she became known as a bra expert. Since then, she’s appeared on Dr. Oz, Wendy and NBC’s Today. She’s also worked as a consultant for intimate brands like Calvin Klein Underwear and She Fit, among others. Most recently, she helped launch Soma bras on QVC and consulted with the company until the pandemic hit.
Last April, in the span of less than a week, her stepfather passed away and she lost her job. She and her now-husband Patrick Sena, a Schenectady firefighter, were also juggling virtual learning with their family of four kids.
“At that point, I was like ‘OK, I can either get stuck, choose a different career or take the plunge and start my own line,’” Sena said.
The third option seemed like a natural progression. People have been asking her for years to design a bra, yet she wanted her first collection to stand out. Sena, who describes herself as a spiritual person, knew plenty of women who put crystals in their bras for a host of spiritual reasons, so she took that idea and designed a triangular mesh section in the center of the bra that would house a heart-shaped gem, close to the wearer’s heart.
“I wanted to make sure that everything on a bra that annoys a woman was fixed in this. It’s got a u-shaped strap; it’s got a wide band with the power mesh so it’s smoothing,” Sena said.
Working with manufacturer Dora Lau International, she designed three different size-inclusive, wire-free bras, each with different gems and colors, including the Attract Love Bra with rose quartz, the Attract Success Bra with amethyst and the Attract Peace Bra with sodalite.
She pitched the idea to ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and though she didn’t make it on the show, the experience taught her that she had a worthwhile concept. She submitted it to QVC/HSN’s 2020 “Big Find” contest. It began a few years ago as an international product search and the winning entrepreneurs launch their products on the network and/or on the network’s e-commerce website.
Since Sena had worked with the company before, she was familiar with the contest. She submitted a virtual presentation, then went on to present in front of a panel of people, as well as buyers.
“They liked the concept and it all came together,” Sena said. She was one of the 60 winners, chosen out of 2,700 applicants and on Monday night was featured on “Fashion’s Night In,” streaming in via Skype right from her dining room.
“I think the bra is gorgeous. The straps are so comfy because they’re all padded. … that gemstone cradled right there, at the center access of your diaphragm and your sternum, guiding you through your day,” Killinger said.
“They put me in their biggest show. ‘Fashion’s Night In’ is like their primetime show. I feel like they did pretty right by me. They really set me up for success,” Sena said.
More than 1,000 of the bras were sold during that first segment and will continue to be available on QVC’s website.
In the coming months, Sena hopes to get financing to sell directly to consumers, as well as through retailers.
Down the road, she’s also anticipating designing other bra lines.
“Maybe I will branch out into non-gemstone stuff. This was to get me out the door in a nice, fun and unique way … I wanted to make it special and really just as uplifting as possible,” Sena said.