Vyra Scher: A Startup Entrepreneur Overcoming the Odds

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Today’s emerging brand founders face challenges around every corner. Vyra Scher is a transgender woman who faced multiple traumas in founding her startup hosiery and accessories brand, LECHERY. Factor in that she started the brand at the advent of the pandemic with just $800 in her bank account, and you have the origin story of a modern retail legend.

“LECHERY successfully broke into mainstream retail through partnerships with legacy retailers such as Macy’s, Target, Nordstrom, Kohl’s, and Saks. Despite people telling her that hosiery was a declining market, Scher realized that she could create demand by doing things differently. She was fully prepared to give next-gen customers and retailers exactly what they so desperately wanted: The Next Big Thing in Fashion.”

Breaking Through

You can now find LECHERY hosiery in Macy’s, Target, Nordstrom, Kohl’s, and Saks. Yet Scher will be the first to tell you that she didn’t start her brand in spite of being an abuse survivor. She didn’t start her brand in spite of being laid off from her 9 to 5 job in a showroom during Covid. She didn’t even start her brand in spite of being a member of multiple marginalized communities. Scher founded LECHERY because of these challenges. 

“I founded LECHERY when I was only 20 years old,” Scher says. “LECHERY was my way of reclaiming the years lost when I wasn’t living my true authentic self.” Where others see obstacles, Vyra Scher sees only opportunity.

 Let’s take a deeper look at how Scher transformed abuse into inspiration and her strategy in founding LECHERY at a time when other brands were shuttering. We’ll also share Scher’s advice on relationship building for up-and-coming brand founders with limited resources. 

Building Protection: Fashion Armour in Hosiery

In a global 2023 study, three percent of respondents identified themselves as transgender or gender-fluid in another way. In the U.S. alone, five percent of people under 30 years old now identify their gender as different from the one assigned to them at birth. Of course, constituents’ ability to safely self-report as gender non-conforming also varies by country. Transgender people still face violence and discrimination that makes it dangerous to accurately self-report in certain areas. 

Scher experienced abuse, not only at the hands of the outside world but also from her family of origin. “Almost two decades of my life were taken away from me because of the past traumas I had to deal with growing up in an emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive household.”

Her origin story isn’t one of privilege and familial support. In fact, Scher discovered the power of hosiery after being sexually assaulted by a stranger running his hand up and down her leg at just 17 years old. “At that very moment, I felt this sense of powerlessness and ultra-vulnerability. I wished I had some sort of protection, some armour against what was happening.”

“It was after that moment,” Scher says, “I wore my first ever pair of pantyhose. I then started incorporating hosiery into my life. Hosiery has given me the feeling of having ‘second skin’ and a ‘fashion armour,’ which meant I would never again feel so unprotected as I did during that moment. My story of building LECHERY is about reclaiming my power.”

 When Scher wore her first pantyhose as a pre-transitioned woman, she felt like she was donning a “second skin.” However, as a transgender woman, she faced a lot of frustration in finding tights that would fit her comfortably without painfully restrictive waistbands or tearing after a single wear. In her struggle, Scher saw the opportunity to fill a gap in the industry, and LECHERY was born.

“The most vulnerable parts of a pair of hosiery are the toe and heel areas. Therefore, all of our products have reinforced toes and heels, which allow maximum comfort and durability. Not only that,” Scher elaborates, “but our products are also made of double-covered Lycra yarns which means that our tights are twice as tear-resistant compared to traditional tights.”

A Global Pandemic Provides Opportunity for Strategic Sourcing

Scher didn’t have a template to follow in founding her brand. There weren’t many transgender founders to look up to and she adds, “There were no brands out there that created quality hosiery at affordable price points who catered to everyone.” 

Most people wouldn’t even consider founding a brand when so many others were folding. But in the struggle, Scher saw an opportunity to offer a fresh perspective on hosiery. Not only did she find a unique value proposition in a longstanding market, but she started sourcing from a country that was in a near-total state of lockdown.

“Even though it was such a scary and uncertain time for me to start a business,” Scher says,  “Covid worked in my favor. I started LECHERY as a luxury brand and sourced high-quality hosiery from Italy. Italy was the epicenter of Covid, and a lot of factories were trying to get rid of excess inventory.”

“The first factory I worked with was family-owned and based in Bologna. They were selling tights as low as $0.50 per unit with no minimums! So, I purchased 200 units and got them shipped to my small shoe-box apartment on the Upper East Side. That’s how I started LECHERY.”

LECHERY successfully broke into mainstream retail through partnerships with legacy retailers such as Macy’s, Target, Nordstrom, Kohl’s, and Saks. Despite people telling her that hosiery was a declining market, Scher realized that she could create demand by doing things differently. She was fully prepared to give next-gen customers and retailers exactly what they so desperately wanted: The Next Big Thing in Fashion. 

“Previously,” Scher says, “many retailers were only partnered with big established national brands that had deeply fragmented supply chains, heavy markups, and poor-quality hosiery. We made hosiery modern again. We filled the white space and we built a new demand.”

A Realistic Vision for an Inclusive Fashion Industry

 Scher doesn’t believe that the future of fashion is genderless. I asked her if, due to one out of 20 young people now identifying as gender non-confirming or trans, she expected gendered clothing sections to be eradicated in the years to come. Her answer was surprising and evidence of her unique understanding of the industry at large. 

“I honestly don’t think this will change a whole lot in terms of how brands source and sell their inventory,” Scher replied. “The beautiful thing about brands is that everyone has their own story and their own target audience. For example, if a female-founded apparel company focuses on women’s plus-size lingerie, then they’ll just focus on that demographic. Not every brand needs to jump on the bandwagon and cater to everyone if it’s not aligned with their brand\’s core ethos,” she added. “I think there’s beauty in that, and that’s totally fine.”

Scher also anticipates more diversity in the fashion industry in the years to come with household names and VC-backed brands becoming more inclusive when it comes to marketing, “whether that is offering a gender-neutral line, or working with a diverse range of models including individuals from the non-binary and trans community. They have the marketing dollars to afford such campaigns,” she adds. “But smaller brands have limited financial resources.”

There’s Power in a Story Shared

The importance of a brand’s origin story in creating personal connections with customers and building community is critical. When it comes to empowering fashion brand founders from marginalized groups, Scher believes retailers can empower future founders by supporting and celebrating them and giving them a platform to share their individual stories.

“Sharing founders’ stories and giving them a voice through weekly newsletters, press releases, podcasts, etc. are all great ways retailers can support and empower fashion brand founders from marginalized groups.”

The future of fashion may not be genderless, but it is certainly inclusive. Not the one-size-fits-all “inclusivity” strategies of current retail, but by elevating individuals who have overcome the issues that plague their consumer base to positions of brand power. True fashion should be a reflection of what makes us unique, as a mirror to our authentic ourselves. Vyra Scher and her origin story are evidence of this shift. Industry leaders like Scher put a positive spin on fashion’s future and its role in self-expression, building a fashion industry that supports creativity from every community.

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