|Lori Coulter, M.B.A. ’99
Making a Splash with Body Scanning
When people hear “3D body scanning,” images of MRIs and CAT scans may come to mind. But Lori Coulter has taken body-scanning technology to a new and innovative level—women’s swimwear.
Coulter, who attended Baylor University for her undergraduate education, graduated with her M.B.A. from Washington University’s Olin Business School in 1999. Today, she is the president and CEO of Lori Coulter TrueMeasure, which she founded in August 2003. The company uses technology, such as the body scanner, to create made-to-order, individualized women’s swimwear.
“It’s a solution and a better experience,” says Coulter. “Our mission is to help women feel more comfortable with their bodies and to look and feel their best in a swimsuit. We really are committed to that throughout the entire process.”
The process itself is less complicated than it may seem. Customers have their measurements taken by the scanner, which is nothing more than a dressing room with a short burst of flashing lights.
“We give them a robe, and it’s much like being at the spa,” says Coulter. “Lights flash around for 12 seconds, and it’s very harmless and easy. It’s like a camera flash, but not even that strong.”
The scanner takes 140 different measurements to assess which body shape the customer has—shape types are H, X, V, O, and A. Once measurements are complete, customers work with a consultant to find the style that is best for their body and their personal preferences. Once the order is submitted, the personalized suits are delivered in less than two weeks. With 40 basic styles and 1,400 configurations per style, swimsuit options soar to a million possible combinations very quickly.
Coulter’s business stems from a paper she wrote in graduate school on how new technology is affecting the retail industry.
“I came across the body-scanning technology, and I just became obsessed with what it could do,” she says. “My mother said, ‘If we could just make a swimsuit that fits, we could have a gold mine.’ At that point I really started looking at the industry … and what we could offer customers.”
Coulter worked closely with Olin Professor Bart Hamilton, who was the advisor on her business plan. She has seen her client base grow “exponentially” and has gone from a staff of three at the beginning of the year to 18. TrueMeasure has also launched test markets in some Macy’s stores—one in Chesterfield, Missouri, and one in Castleton Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana. All of this is part of Coulter’s business model to partner with retailers and roll out store-in-store locations nationwide.
Of course, starting a business is no small task.
“It’s definitely been a learning experience. Everything’s always harder the first time around when you’re developing a completely new concept or business. There are unique challenges that you face and that you overcome.”
Coulter hasn’t forgotten where she got started and connects with both undergraduates and MBA students by speaking to Hamilton’s classes as well as other entrepreneurship classes and seminars. She also competed in the Olin Cup in 2003 and was a top finalist.
Coulter resides in St. Louis with her husband, Kelly Coulter, also M.B.A. ’99, and their 19-month-old son.
And while TrueMeasure is making only swimwear and cover-ups for now, Coulter says there are plans to look into lingerie, undergarments, the bridal industry … “everything.”
“There’s a really strong connection between mothers and daughters and friends,” notes Coulter, “and I think women have a neat passion for helping other women. This concept really lends itself well to that.”
—Erin Fults, Class of ’08
|Alumnus Eric Brown (left), B.F.A.’99 is a co-founder of ImpactGames. He is pictured with Arun Gandhi, a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. About the game PeaceMaker, Gandhi says, “This exceptionally creative and relevant video game will further concepts of conflict resolution and peacemaking and bring important new audiences into the fold.”
Playing for Peace in the Middle East
Many have tried to bring peace to the Middle East. But where politicians, world leaders, and military forces have failed, Eric Brown, B.F.A. ’99, has finally succeeded, at least in the gaming world. Brown is one of the founders of ImpactGames, which hosts the highly lauded video game PeaceMaker.
The goal of the game is to teach players about international conflict resolution and ultimately to effect change in the Israeli-Palestinian region. Acting as either the Israeli prime minister or the Palestinian president, a player’s actions have powerful consequences: bring stability to the region, or be removed from office and watch the violence unfold.
What began as a project at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where Brown was a graduate student, became an internationally publicized and widely acclaimed social impact game.
“It was pretty amazing,” says Brown. “The publicity was astounding. It’s definitely been an interesting ride.”
The project was a group initiative led by the students to create a positive game about a serious issue. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was current, ongoing, and resonated with the team of students. The game posits that a player can make a difference, and that small concrete steps are the key to the possible.
Brown and co-founder, Asi Burak, initially created the company ImpactGames to ensure that PeaceMaker would be completed and commercialized.
“We took into account all the publicity and community support we were getting and didn’t want it to die when we graduated,” says Brown. “Now as a company we want to impact society, and we’re using video games as a positive medium to do it.”
As Brown and his company reach out to the world, he recounts the impact that Washington University had on him as an undergraduate. He started out as a biology and fine art major and moved into other areas of study, such as anthropology and education. In his art studies, he immersed himself in graphic design and computer graphics, and graduated with a B.F.A. in painting.
“One of the main reasons I chose Washington U. was its strength in both academics and art,” says Brown. “The combination of studies is what I use today in what I do.”
Once in graduate school at Carnegie Mellon, where he earned a master’s degree in entertainment technology, Brown says he was able to “get back to what I had started at Washington U.”
Brown, accustomed to Washington University’s environment with individuals from many different Backgrounds, built on this; the game PeaceMaker pushes others to consider multiple people’s perspectives and explore the complexities of a variety of issues. The game is a great tool for conflict resolution, mediation, and international diplomacy.
Brown’s intent is to bring peace to Israel and Palestine through his interactive game. But will there ever actually be peace in the Middle East? Brown is optimistic. His product has received positive feedback from international media and nonprofit organizations.
“The international publicity we get is visible support,” he says, “and that gives me hope. The challenges of running a company are hard, but the ongoing support we get exposes us to the positive side of humanity, and keeps us going.”
ImpactGames was created to launch PeaceMaker, and with that success under their belt, Brown and the other team members hope to produce future titles addressing other real-time conflicts.
“We’re trying to do our little part to add a new, fresh way of approaching issues.”
—Erin Fults, Class of ’08