Lena Bryant was faced with raising her young son alone when she was left a widow at an early age. Being a dressmaker, she borrowed $300 from her brother-in-law to start a business and went to the bank to open an account. The bank misspelled her name on the account, so Lena became Lane Bryant.
She opened a shop with living quarters in the back and began producing dresses. After a pregnant customer asked her for something “presentable but comfortable”, Lane Bryant started making “maternity dresses”, which became very popular.
In 1907 she married Albert Maslin and he took over and streamlined the business. To bypass the newspapers, which by tradition did not mention subjects like pregnancy in the press, the company started their own mail order catalog. By 1917 the Lane Bryant catalog part of the business was making a million dollars a year.
Today the Lane Bryant catalog still offers fashionable and comfortable maternity outfits and plus-sized clothing.