Real Women Doing Real Things: Carolyn and Adelene Tan of Sophia Rose Intimates

There’s nothing I love more than when female entrepreneurs solve a problem in the marketplace. Fact: there weren’t many bras on the market for women who have survived breast cancer and, after witnessing their own mother’s struggle first-hand, the Tan sisters decided to do something about it…

Tell us a little about your mission for Sophia Rose Intimates.

Sophia Rose Intimates is a lingerie brand dedicated to making every woman feel beautiful and confident in her own skin with our thoughtfully designed lingerie. Our brand is inspired by the strength of the breast cancer survivor, and in particular our Mom, whose experience as a breast cancer survivor led us to create our signature Sophia Wireless Lace Bra. Most breast cancer survivors find shopping for lingerie incredibly alienating and challenging, as there are very few options, most of which are very plain and utilitarian. We were inspired to make a change in the lingerie industry by creating lingerie without prejudice – one that can cater to all women, whether they have had a mastectomy, reconstruction, or have your natural breasts!

What was the process of creating the line?

The design process for creating our line begins with truly understanding and empathizing with the wants and needs of the breast cancer survivor. We spoke to women who have natural breasts, women who had reconstruction and women who had mastectomies in order to engineer and design our wireless bra with nine unique features promoting comfort, beauty, and support. Our materials were sourced across the world for quality and we tested our bra on real women again and again, until the fit was just right. We also collaborated with incredibly talented lingerie industry professionals to ensure that each decision in our design process would lead to a well-constructed, perfectly fitted, and quality lingerie brand with fabulous products.

When did you have the “aha” moment when you knew you wanted your own lingerie line?

Our “aha” moment was the fortuitous combination of the fact that there were limited lingerie options for breast cancer survivors with Adelene’s love for making clothes on our Mom’s old sewing machine and Carolyn’s unstoppable entrepreneurial spirit. We knew that we had the raw ingredients that it would take to create a purposeful, well designed, and quality lingerie line. Two years later, after many moments of doubt and a number of small successes to keep us going, Sophia Rose Intimates was launched!

As female entrepreneurs, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned to-date?

The biggest lesson that we’ve learnt to date is to appreciate, value and surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family and entrepreneurs. There will inevitably be more failures than successes and positive friends and family are so important to maintain perspective and keep on moving forward! We have also met the most amazing and successful female entrepreneurs along the way. Listening to their experiences, seeking their constructive advice, and developing real relationships has allowed us to make the right and best decisions for our business as we grow. Building a business takes a whole ecosystem that extends beyond the founders!

What inspires you creatively?

We are inspired first by real women! We believe that the core of our creativity comes from understanding a woman’s behaviors and desires. In addition, we also love touching different fabrics from textile stores around town, flipping through design books at bookstores in art galleries (they usually have a more curated design book selection!) and of course our other creatively inclined friends!

If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why?

This is probably quite obvious, but our Mom (honestly)! Sophia Rose Intimates is a brand that believes that beauty comes from the small things and appreciating the women in your life. Our Mom has been our biggest inspiration in our personal and business lives and we don’t get to see her very often, so we think that hearing her nuggets of wisdom and enjoying her positivity over some homemade pasta sounds pretty phenomenal.

For more information on Sophia Rose Intimates check out their website and follow them on Instagram.


  1. Sharon Gillespie says:

    This was such an inspiring discovery Katherine. I had my mastectomy in 1988. Not once since then have I been able to by something beautiful and comfortable in a bra. I am so excited about the possibilities this information provides me. Thank you so much for sharing a piece of sunshine with me today! You are an angel.

  2. Peggy Hatton says:

    I’m a brain tumor survivor. Today, I have another brain tumor. Brain Tumors shattered my quality of life, left me living in deep poverty. However; through it all, I found peace in God. God has truly blessed me. I’m a wounded soldier! I survived another major surgery in 2015 and attend Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, Fight Against Brain Tumors. All in the same year. May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month and I want to share my inspirational story to encourage others in their battles. I have written numerous times and never got a response. Warm Regards, Peggy Hatton.