The first rule of fight club is simple: You don’t talk about fight club.
And while the good people at Zoe & Co. Professional Bra Fitters are hardly the fighting kind, which makes them a not-so-good comparison to the hooligans in the 1990’s Brad Pitt/Edward Norton classic, there are also things at Zoe’s you just don’t talk about. Top of the list would obviously be what goes on in the fitting rooms, but a close second would have to be the 100 party cakes.
Now it would be pretty cool if this was about 100 cakes of all flavors just sitting in the back room of the North Main Street store waiting for any and all customers to grab a slice, but sadly that’s not the case. We would be more frequent shoppers if that was the case – for our wives, of course. Instead, the 100 party cakes have become a little tradition to help celebrate the end of training for the most recent Zoe girl and to welcome her to the start of a bright career as a bra fitter extraordinaire.
“It’s just one of the fun and silly things we do,” said store manager Elyssa Paris.
Because with more than 200 different sizes and 45 brands in stock, that’s a lot of knowledge to take in.
“Most people don’t even know there’s that many brands out there,” Paris said. “It’s a lot to get used to.”
To get a cake, a new employee must not only complete the three-month training process, but also perfectly fit 100 new customers. And when we say perfect, we mean double-checked by another Zoe girl and not just a “yeah it fits” from the customer. It usually takes about two months to get to the point where the trainers feel the trainee is ready to start fitting on her own. They’re kind of like the Mr. Miyagi of bra fitters.
“Once we figure they’re ready to go, we start the 100 process,” Paris said. “We found 100 is a good number. We want to make sure people are getting 10 out of 10 correct.”
And like we said before, in order for it to count, it must be on a new customer, because the returning ones have already been fitted by someone else, and there’s a real need to start the process from scratch.
“They can easily do many more than (100),” Paris said. “Sometimes it takes 130 to 150, but typically people only get it wrong in the very beginning.”
But once they reach triple digits, it’s what we like to think of as party time. The cake is made into the shape of a woman’s bosom and decorated in a fashion that matches the bra that will be gifted to the graduating trainee. They make a reservation at Moritomo for some hibachi and, of course, cake.
“That’s sort of a tradition,” Paris said. “So a lot of the cakes out there are bras that actually exist in the wild.”
Paris remembers at least six cake parties for employees since the Concord store opened in 2008, the last of which was about six months ago. Currently no one is in the training program, but this story may bring a few potential employees out of the woodwork, especially those who like bras and cakes. Paris had her cake party in 2009, but was unable to eat her cake due to a milk allergy. Now, they get a good idea of what kind of cake a trainee likes and have even made gluten-free and vegan varieties.
“Not everyone makes it all the way through the training,” Paris said. “So it’s a really, really exciting part of it and it’s not just because we like to eat cakes.”
But remember the No. 1 rule of 100 party cakes.
“Everybody who works here knows the drill,” Paris said. “You don’t talk about the cake.”