Former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader builds breastaurant uniform empire
Terra Saunders knows the secret to a good Breastaurant uniform is all a matter of centimeters. Too much material and you're dealing with baggy, ill-fitting clothes. Too little, and well, the issue is pretty easy to see. "There are a lot of little details that go into the uniforms," Saunders says. "Not all designers think about all of the things.
"We don’t want bra straps hanging out; it's not clean," she says. "And think about the undergarments and inseams, so your butt cheeks don't hang out."
Saunders is the founder and lead designer for Waitressville, a new site that allows restaurants (both breasty and not) across the country to design custom uniforms. And though Waitressville is new, Saunders has been designing uniforms for more than 15 years.
It started with the Dallas Cowboys. Saunders was a cheerleader from 1995 to 2000; in 1997, she began a business designing uniforms, a fusion of her two passions.
“I had some horrible uniforms,” Terra Saunders says. “There was one that was a cummerbund with splatter paint, suspenders and a bowtie."
"I've been designing my whole life," she says. "It was a family thing, my mother and grandmother sewed, and I picked it up from them. I mean, when you know something so personally, wearing the clothes I was designing, it was a natural fit."
After retiring from cheering, Saunders began selling her uniforms to cheerleading squads in the NFL and NBA. She's designed outfits for the Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Oklahoma City Thunder and several others under the Dallaswear Uniforms brand.
In 2006, Twin Peaks approached Saunders about designing new outfits for their waitresses. She was suddenly in the breastaurant game.
"If you think about the uniforms, they're not that different," Saunders says. "And the girls who wear them aren't that different. They're young, energetic and care about their figures. It was a light bulb moment."
The infrastructure was already set up, and the inspiration of past waitressing jobs allowed Saunders to create the uniforms she wishes she had had.
"I had some horrible uniforms," she says. "There was one that was a cummerbund with splatter paint, some suspenders and a bow tie that had splatter paint on it, too. I’ve worn some very hideous uniforms and the Cowboys one made me feel like the prettiest girl."
For Saunders, comfort is at the forefront of each design. Between long shifts and constant shuffling between the kitchen and the dining area, the uniforms have to be able to stand up to the pressure.
She also believes that breastaurants carry an undeserved stigma.
"It has a bad rap because there wasn't anyone making a uniform that would honor these women," she says. "There were the polos designed by men that were square and didn't fit anyone and then there were the costume-y, stripper clothes. There was nothing that was fashionable that made the girls look good that covered all the right parts."
Saunders believes that if the waitresses feel that they look good and are comfortable, then everyone wins.
"If your manager gives you something boring to wear, you're going to feel boring," she says. "But if you have something that feels great and honors you, you'll feel great. The waitresses are happier and when they're happier they work better, customers have a better experience and the restaurant makes more money."
Saunders owns the trademark on "Breastaurant Uniforms" and designs for places like Twin Peaks, Bone Daddy's and Bikinis (which has a trademark on "Breastaurant"). But that doesn't mean the lineup at Waitressville is a one-trick pony. Her business suits all types of restaurants.
"I've noticed recently that new clients are saying, 'We had heard of you, but you didn't have anything we need because we're just a sports bar,'" she says. "They thought it was all just about your stomach hanging out. But I want every waitress to feel great wherever they work. No matter the uniform, we can make it better. If you're wearing a boring polo, we can make it more comfortable."