Tag Archives: interview

Sivutyöstä täyspäiväiseksi naisyrittäjäksi: Lumingerien 10 vuotta – From a Side Job to Full Time Female Entrepreneurship: 10 years at Lumingerie

11 Feb

Suomessa alusvaateala on aina ollut marginaalissa: jokaisella suurella kaupungilla ja joskus jopa pienemmälläkin pitäjällä on oma pieni putiikkinsa, jonka kapasiteetti usein riittää tarjoamaan kokoja n. G-kuppiin asti, ja vuokrien ollessa kalliit ja tilojen pienet kivijalkakauppiaana alalla on vaikea menestyä. Alusvaateverkkokaupat ovatkin olleet monen isorintaisen pelastus: kokoja löytyy huomattavasti enemmän ja merkkivalikoimasta löytyy paljon muutakin kuin perinteistä Primadonnaa.

Ensimmäinen suomalainen alusvaateverkkokauppa, johon itse blogiurani alussa (eli n. 5 vuotta sitten) tutustuin, oli omassa kaupungissani Oulussa varastoa pitävä Lumingerie. Lumingerien valikoimassa itselläni sykähdytti tutut nuorekkaat merkit kuten Curvy Kate, Freya ja Cleo by Panache, joita pääsinkin jossain vaiheessa blogiarvostelujen merkeissä testaamaan Lumingerielle. Yhteistyöstä kehittyi ystävyys, ja jossain vaiheessa myös työpaikka, jossa pääsen tänäkin päivänä toteuttamaan omaa intohimoani asiakaspalveluun ja alusvaatteisiin.

Lumingerie on monelle edelleen alusvaatejälleenmyyjänä uudempi nimi ja moni yllättyykin, kun kerromme asiakkaillemme, että yritys on ollut pystyssä jo aika lailla tasan kymmenen vuotta! Haastattelinkin Lumingerien perustajaa ja omistajaa Merviä yrityksen kymmenestä vuodesta ja siitä, minkälaista on ollut olla naisyrittäjä alusvaatealalla Suomessa.

English: The Finnish lingerie market is a tough one – many small boutiques don’t have the capacity to cater for bigger cup sizes than G as the rents are high and store spaces are small. 

I became familiar with a Finnish e-commerce shop Lumingerie in the beginning of my lingerie blogging career and instantly fell in love with their vast selection of young and fun D+ brands. Even better, the storage was located in my town, which meant after a couple of blog collaborations with the company I was invited for tea and to see what the whole thing was about. I was so excited! That very summer in 2014 I got my summer job at Lumingerie and since then, I continue my story with them today as a CS for the company.

Lumingerie was founded exactly 10 years ago, which is a great achievement for lingerie retailer in Finland! Today I have interviewed the founder and owner Mervi about her success as a female entrepreneur in the industry.

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Mervi Modan alusvaatemessuilla Birminghamin NEC-keskuksessa / Mervi at Moda lingerie exhibition in NEC-centre, Birmingham.

Mistä lähti ajatus verkkokaupan perustamiseen ja miten yrityksen perustamisprosessi eteni? / How did you start your business and what was the process like?

-Kirjoitin pro gradu -tutkielmaani vuoden 2007 lopussa ja lähdin samalla yrittäjyyskurssille kotikunnassani Lumijoella. Pääaineeni yliopistossa oli tietojenkäsittelytiede, mutta ideaa alusvaateverkkokaupasta pyöritellessäni päätin kokeilla verkkokaupan perustamista sillä idealla, että jospa tätä voisi tehdä sivutyönä opiskelujen ohessa. Tein Lumingerien yrityssuunnitelman yrityskurssin päättötyönä ja itse verkkokauppa aukesikin jo vuoden 2008 alussa. Tein tuolloin lähes kaiken itse, ja jopa verkkosivut väänsin omin pienin kätösin. Eiväthän ne hääppöiset olleet, mutta jostain piti aloittaa. Myöhemmin puolisoni Mikko onkin auttanut verkkokaupan kehittämisessä koodaustaidoillaan.

Odotuksena oli, että pari hassua tilausta kun viikkoon saisi, olisin tyytyväinen. Yllätyinkin kovasti kun ensimmäinen tilaus tuli todella pian verkkokaupan avautumisesta, ja tilauksia alkoikin tulla oikeastaan joka päivä. Jossain vaiheessa heräsikin ajatus, voisiko tästä lopulta ihan täyspäiväinen työ.

I was doing my university dissertation in 2007 and took an entrepreneurship course in my home town Lumijoki at the same time. In university I studied computer science, but wanted to try out my idea of a lingerie e-shop as a side job. I crafted my business plan at the entrepreneurship course as my final dissertation and soon in the beginning of 2008 I launched the e-commerce shop. I did almost everything by myself, even the layout of the website. It wasn’t the best layout ever, but I needed to start somewhere. Later on my husband Mikko has helped me a lot with the coding.

My expectations about the shop weren’t too high at first and I would have been happy with just a couple of orders a week. However, I was surprised to find out that the orders kept coming almost every day and it made me wonder whether this could be something I could do full-time.

Miten päädyit valitsemaan verkkokauppasi kohderyhmän ja millä perusteella valitsit ensimmäiset merkit kaupan valikoimaan? / How did you set your target market and choose the first brands to offer in your selection?

Olen itse isorintainen nainen (tällä hetkellä käytän UK-kokoja 70-75 J-K merkistä riippuen) ja koin, ettei kokoiselleni löytynyt Suomesta erityisemmin valikoimaa – erityisesti pienen ympäryksen ja ison kupin yhdistelmä on haastava! Päätinkin siis, että Lumingerie keskittyisi erityisesti D-kuppia isompiin kokoihin ja tällä hetkellä valikoimassa on kuppikokoja D:stä aina UK K-kuppiin asti. Muuten en ole lähtenyt kohderyhmäämme määritelemään, vaan asiakkaidemme yhdistävä tekijä on tarve D-kuppia isommalle liiville.

Ensimmäiset merkit, joita otimme kauppaamme, olivat Kris Line ja Adore Lingerie. Nämä merkit ovat sittemmin jääneet pois, mutta ne valikoituivat alunperin sillä periaatteella, että molemmilla oli hyvä kokovalikoima ja he olivat halukkaita tekemään yhteistyötä pienen verkkokaupan kanssa. Nykyään yritämme valikoida mukaan merkkejä, joilla on kohtuullinen valikoima kokoja ja hinta ei päätä huimaa. Suomalaisessa alusvaateverkkokaupassa luksusmarkkinat ovat vaikeat, joten otamme valikoimaan liivejä, joita on matala kynnys tilata kotiin kokeiltavaksi.

I am big busted lady myself (I wear a UK 32-34 J-K) and felt that there weren’t enough retailers catering for my size – especially the big cup, small band market was lacking. I decided that Lumingerie would focus on cup sizes above D-cup and now we cater up to a UK K-cup. There is really nothing else that defines our customers – just a need for a cup size bigger than D.

The first brands we took in were Kris Line and Adore Lingerie. These brands are not sold at Lumingerie anymore but they were selected in the first place for their wide size selection and willingness to do business with a small e-commerce shop.These days we try to select brands that have a decent size range and a price tag. The luxury market is very difficult for an online-only business, which is why it is something we haven’t really wanted to try.

Kertoisitko jotain Lumingerien kehityksestä yrityksenä näiden kymmenen vuoden aikana? / Please tell us something about the progress at Lumingerie over these 10 years!

-Lumingerie on kasvanut tasaisesti ja varmasti näiden kymmenen vuoden aikana. Jo perustusvuonna 2008 työ muuttui päätyöksi vuoden lopulla ja keskityin täysillä Lumingerien pyörittämiseen. Varasto oli aluksi suhteellisen pieni ja siksi pystyin pitämään sitä kotona Lumijoella vuoteen 2010-2011 asti. Muistaakseni vuoden 2010 lopulla kaverini Digitarvikkeelta vinkkasi varastotilan heidän varastonsa vierestä Oulun yrittäjäkylästä, ja päätin tarttua ehdotukseen. Ensin varastoja oli vain yksi, mutta nykyään tilamme ovat jo kolminkertaistuneet.

Vuonna 2014 otin yritykseen ensimmäisen kesätyöntekijän (toim. huom. eli minut!) ja vuonna 2015 muutimme toiminimen osakeyhtiöksi puolisoni kanssa. Tuolloin Mikko tuli myös töihin Lumingerielle ja hän toi yritykseen erityisesti teknistä tietämystä aiemman koulutuksena ja ammattinsa puolesta.  2015 ennakoimme muutenkin yrityksen kasvua ja palkkasimme vuoden aikana kaksi uutta työntekijää mm. markkinoinnin ja kirjanpidon tehtäviin.

Vuonna 2015 valikoimamme muuttui niin, että mukaan tuli myös miesten tuotteita. Miesten verkkokaupalla onkin ihan oma nimensä HerMan’s, joka tulee Mikon toisesta nimestä Hermanni. Ajatuksena miesten kaupan nimen takana oli myös se, että Lumingerien asiakkaat olisivat mahdollisesti voineet ostaa HerMan’silta alusvaatteita puolisoilleen – tämä ei kuitenkaan mennyt lainkaan niinkuin ajattelimme, vaan miehet ostavat alusvaatteensa oikein mielellään itse ja tilaajat ovatkin HerMan’silla lähes poikkeuksetta miehiä. Hyvä näinkin! HerMan’s onkin enemmän Mikon vastuulla, jolloin molemmilla meillä omistajista on myös omat kiinnostuksen kohteensa mukana työssä.

Lumingerie has grown surely and steadily over these 10 past years. In the end of 2008 my job at Lumingerie turned full-time and I decided to give my all to it. The storage was quite small at first so I could have all my stock at home in Luminjoki until 2010. If I remember correctly, it was in the end of 2010 when my friend at Digitarvike suggested I rent a storage right next to them at business village in Oulu. I grabbed the offer and first rented one storage unit, and now Lumingerie takes up three whole units!

In year 2014 I took in my first summer assistant (editor’s notes: that was me!) and 2015 we founded the Ltd with my husband Mikko. Mikko came in to work with me and brought some valuable technical know-how into the company. We also wanted to predict the company’s growth and thus hired two new employees to take care of marketing and book-keeping.

In 2015 we also took in some men’s products and named the men’s store site HerMan’s according to Mikko’s middle name Hermanni. We also imagined that HerMan’s could be a place for women to buy underwear for their partners – little did we know that HerMan’s whole customer base would basically be all men! This suits us perfectly fine though. HerMan’s is more Mikko’s responsibility and this way we both have a focus in our work and something interesting to work on.

Mitkä koet suurimmiksi saavutuksiksesi yrittäjänä ja mitä haluaisit vielä saavuttaa? / What are your biggest successes as an entrepreneur and what would you like to achieve in the future?

Ylipäänsä se, että tästä oli mahdollista tehdä kokopäivätyö itselle on iso saavutus. Pidän myös itse siitä, että Lumingerie on perheyritys. Varmaan kuitenkin isoin saavutukseni yrittäjänä on mahdollisuus tarjota useammalle ihmiselle työpaikka yrityksessäni. Tänä päivänä Lumingerie on myös kansainvälinen yritys – lähetämme tuotteitamme Eurooppaan ja myös rapakon taakse viikottain.

Tulevaisuuden suunnitelmia ja haaveita on paljon, enkä ihan vielä aio niitä paljastaa 😉 Yhtenä esimerkkinä voisin kuitenkin sanoa omien liivimallien suunnittelemisen juuri meidän kaupallemme – haluaisin tarjota jotain uniikkia asiakkaillemme! Pyörät tässä asiassa ovat kuin ovatkin jo lähteneet liikkeelle ja Lumingerien 10-vuotis juhlamallin Lilahin olemme suunnitelleet yhteistyössä alusvaatemerkki Gorsenian kanssa. Malli tuli myyntiin tällä viikolla ja se on suunniteltu Lumingerien väreissä koko työtiimin mielipiteet huomioon ottaen.

It is amazing that I could make this my full-time job so that is an achievement in itself. I am also happy to say that Lumingerie is now a family business. My biggest achievement though would be being able to offer jobs to other people as well. These days Lumigerie is an international company as well, as we ship to European countries and also beyond the pond weekly.

I have a lot of plans and dreams regarding Lumingerie but I am not sure whether I want to reveal them just yet! Something I could tell you is that I would like to create more in-house designed styles just for Lumingerie and this way offer something unique to our customers. We started this journey already and are now offering a 10-year anniversary style Lilah in our e-commerce shop. This style has been designed with our whole Lumingerie team in collaboration with a Polish lingerie brand Gorsenia. 

Kiitos Merville haastattelusta! Jos haluat lukea arvostelun Lilah-setistä, pysyhän kuulolla huomiseen asti 😉 / Huge thanks to Mervi for the interview! If you would like to see Lilah reviewed here on the blog, please stay tuned until tomorrow 😉

Designer Interview: Meet Rochella Lingerie!

4 May

I recently heard about a new D+ lingerie brand when I visited Paris a few months back. I was staying over at Astrid from Les Gros Bonnets and she told me there was a new British brand exhibiting at Salon de la Lingerie – of course, she had left the stand right before I found it on Monday and sadly, we were unable to chat about the collection. Luckily, I got a hold of Karen, the founder of Rochella Lingerie, via email and we started talking about setting up an interview for my readers. Today, I am presenting you this new middle-market full-bust brand which also supports a good cause by donating a percentage of their profits to gynaecology cancer charities.

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Some pieces from Rochella SS16 collection

2COP: This is your first collection with Rochella. How did you become a lingerie designer and decided to take the plunge to start your own brand?

K: I originally did a fashion and textile course as my passion was always to be a designer and I loved the way that textures completely changed things. I literally ‘fell’ into lingerie as my friend who cut the head of designs hair at a global company, slipped and almost fell into the road whilst we were out on a weekend. She was telling the story, to the Head of Design at the next haircut, and the designer asked me to come along for an interview. I was taken on as junior lingerie designer, designing ranges for Marks and Spencers. This is where I really learned everything the about the product.

Over the years I moved jobs and climbed the ladder from junior designer into Head of Design and technical for global brands.

I had huge success with an online retailer creating all their own brand D+ lingerie,  and that success sparked off the idea for me to do my own. Im no skinny minx these days. Im a plus size with a large bust. I just wanted to create something supportive and pretty, without thinking my underwear looks really ugly .. so Rochella began.

 2COP: Where do you draw inspiration for your designs and who do you design for? What is the Rochella woman like?

K: I draw inspiration form many places, a lot is flora, I just adore roses and vintage florals, Im also a bit obsessed with animalesque prints. They have just become a staple basic now.  I love colour too, I just think it brings joy into your life and makes you feel good on the inside , even on the dull rainy days.

The Rochella woman is fun, a little quirky, bohemian almost , with a love for beautiful cloths and trims. She enjoys quality. Shes a magpie drawn to sparkle and shine. She can be anyone from 20 – 90 , there is no age anymore in society we are all living longer and just because we are getting older doesn’t mean  to say that all of a sudden lingerie should be restricted to Bridget Jones beige big pants!  

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Rochella AW16

2COP: Your designs seem to be sporting a more luxurious feel to them. What does luxury mean to you when it comes to lingerie?

K: My brand is premium, Its not that costly so its only available for the top 10%, but its above high street pricing. I look at many brands and they all sell for similar price points, all in similar fabrics.. To me its all just cloned! Almost robotic. I wanted to give the most beautiful fabrics and embroideries, to give the ooh aah factor, to make you feel good. The silky satin I use is just like liquid chocolate, soft sensual to touch and the trims are all gold plated. I think we deserve something special as we all work very hard. Luxury is a feeling, its not about money.

2COP: How did you decide on the size range for Rochella? Was it obvious to go for the full bust market? Also, do you have any plans or dreams to expand the size range, e.g. into smaller band sizes? (For readers, Rochella now makes sizes 32-42 D-J)

K: Globally we are all getting bigger and our frame has totally changed over the years, we are more rounded. I’ve been a designer for 30 years and I also design for new start ups. I get asked all the time to design for this area as there is little on the market. I  consciously looked at clothing sizes and based my size range on this , but I will be bringing in 30 back sizes for AW16.

2COP: You donate a percentage of your sales to gynaecology cancer organizations and are a survivor yourself. How did your experience with cancer affect you as a designer? Did it eg affect your material choices or your decision to start your own brand in the first place?

K: Cancer to everyone is  a huge shock and life changer. I had a very bad experience  with my treatment. I had vulval cancer. Thankfully things have improved and treatment is better, but no one knows these cancers exist, they get no press , yet they are nearly as rife as breast cancer. I didn’t start my own brand because of it, but I line my garments in a lavender colour, so that whoever buys them knows that even when they are putting on the bra that a percentage of profits is going to a good cause.

2COP: What is the best part of desining lingerie? What about the worst?

I’m currently just getting my thoughts together for SS17 and I love getting all the embroideries and prints created. Of course this is always the best thing for a creative person.  The worst thing.. there isn’t one, I sleep and breathe it!

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Rochella AW16

2COP: How do you feel your brand differs from other British full-bust brands?

K: Britain is stuck in a price battle war of all brands on fuller bust. I could have designed something similar, but whats the point,  I’d just be competing with everyone else. Retailers don’t buy after certain price points. There is nothing on the market like mine currently. At the moment it goes from brand to luxury with very little in-between. I’m having a lot more success outside of the UK in sales.

The UK has become a bit of a throw away society, we wear things a few times and then bin it. This is not good for the environment. We need to produce items that people care about. If you look after a bra well, it becomes a favourite.

2COP: What is in store for Rochella in the future? Have you got any specific dreams regarding your brand?

K: My dream of course is to become a global brand and I would then support cancer charities all over the world. Having had cancer myself, you have to pay the ferryman. Im lucky to be here enjoying life. Many have only a few hours left. If I can change this by just making a few bras , then I have succeeded in my mission.

Thank you Karen for introducing your brand to me and my readers! If you are interested to see how Rochella bras fit, I have a review coming up soon so stay tuned for that 😉

Shapewear Innovators – Introducing Figgahugga

6 Jun

I have recently been looking for cute and fun shapewear that would suit my taste and hold in my cookie pouch a little. I am pretty comfortable with my body but when wearing tight-fitting clothing I wanna feel more secure either with slimming high-waisted panties or a slip dress. I would love to try some “real” shapewear brands in the future so I’m kind of doing my research now before opting for something.

 I came across a brand called Figgahugga on Twitter and instantly thought this brand is exactly what I’m looking for – a fresh young brand that offers a huge range of rainbow colours in a form of a slip dress. The best thing about the Figgahugga? Their slimming dress can also be worn as outerwear, which makes it a great choice for girls who want a simple flattering summer dress that can be dressed up and down. 

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Just look at them! I think the concept is really cool and this kind of shapewear looks exactly the kind that young customers would love. It’s also really affordable since Figgahugga costs you only £49,99. Just comparing the price to many other similar shapewear dresses, I really feel the Figgahugga crew has kept their young customer in mind. This is what the brand has to say about their product:

Figgahugga is a totally new shapewear brand designed specifically for younger women, that both looks and performs unlike anything that’s currently on the market. Figgahugga is entirely British (both material sourced and manufactured in Britain) which, we believe, makes us the only all British shapewear label on the market.  

The idea behind Figgahugga came from the rising number of young, often slimmer women, who are going out for the evening without eating, for fear of developing the dreaded “food baby” – and often suffering as a consequence. We thought it was time they could eat, drink and still look and feel great.

The majority of shapewear wearers are often larger women, however, there are as many slim women out there who have as many body issues.  At Figgahugga, we want to keep young girls safe, by encouraging them to eat, stay healthy and look good.

Better Performance.

Figgahuggas are double layered to offer a stronger hold and more comfort than anything out there. And because they have been designed with younger women in mind, they are infused with Feran Ice to wick away moisture and keep you cool on the dance floor.

 Better Looks.

Unlike most shapewear, Figgahuggas have been designed to be seen. So they come in multiple bright colours to complement your wardrobe. What’s more, they look just like normal dresses – so if your boyfriend or flatmate walked in on you getting changed, they would have no idea you were wearing shapewear! Here are some of the ways you can wear a Figgahugga.”

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I love Figgahugga’s colours – my personal favourites would be yellow and neon pink! Unfortunately Figgahugga is such a new brand that they have only one model that’s available now with the existing model being designed more for core sizes when it comes to breast size. However, as I contacted Figgahugga and as they told me that they haven’t YET released a full-bust suitable model, there is one coming very soon! I love that this kind of new brand wants to branch out to full-bust appropriate designs as well as vest and a longer version of the original design. I think this shows a lot of dedication to improve their product and that they really want to take into account all of their possible customers. 

The new models including the full-bust one should be launched in the next six months so keep your eyes peeled for them on Figgahugga’s facebook page. If you are a little more small-busted, I would suggest taking part of Lingerie Blog’s comp in which you can win yourself your very own Figgahugga!

How do you like FIggahugga? Which colour is your favourite? 😉 xx

Lingerie adventures in London part I: Fraulein Annie Lingerie

4 May

Hiya lovelies and thank God it’s Sunday! I have started with a new job this week which is super fun, lingerie-related but also requires a lot of hours in a bus and standing on my feet. So no wonder I slept almost 12 hours last night. I have started to miss blogging more frequently so this month I’ll be having a goal of writing at least two posts a week. Literally, I have to since my review pile is getting pretty big and I don’t wanna be all late with them! Also I still have so many awesome things planned for you guys and I hope to have them black and white this month. So fingers crossed!

Today I wanna tell you about a little trip I made to London about couple of months ago where I met two amazing ladies – Eva from All Undone Lingerie and Frauke from Fraulein Annie. They were both so lovely and I learned a lot about making bras, indie brand marketing and also the difficulties of producing and selling bras. This was all very interesting and today I want to share the best bits with you.

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First I met up with Frauke at a lovely small restaurant called The Secret Tea Room. The place was like from my dreams – charming old furniture with a delicious menu and amazingly pretty waitresses. We decided to go for a tomato and mozzarella pie which turned out to be great. The whole place is completely vegetarian which scared me a bit as a devoted meat-eater but the food was so good I actually started thinking I could try out some more veggies in my own diet.

In addition to the food I absolutely adored Frauke. As a Finn my journey with English and American people hadn’t been too uncomplicated which meant me being very at ease with a fellow Europian (Frauke is originally from Germany but now lives in London and travels a lot to China as well). I have a general feeling that us Finns and German people do get along really well so the afternoon was definitely a blast, a laid back moment of excellent lunch and fun company. 

When it comes to lingerie Frauke definitely knows her stuff and is very passionate about the industry. She talked a lot about the quality and the accessibility of her lingerie and also the question of supply and demand. Lingerie industry is not the most easiest to break into, to say the least. 

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Fraulein Annie Lingerie seems like something pretty special – the kind of thing you put on a special date or even your wedding day. It’s classic and beautiful and speaks to a variety of age groups and tastes. Also the tag luxury has been attached to Fraulein Annie in so many cases. But what does the designer herself think about this? She would respectfully like to disagree.

Fraulein Annie is first foremost designed for every woman. Beautiful lingerie should be a necessity – not a luxury. Frauke and I talked a lot about the luxury tag and the price point of quality lingerie which raised a lot of problems when it comes to smaller indie brands. FA’s price point is a little higher than your average Panache but many of us have no idea what is put behind it. There are years of working with the patterns, re-doing the models and trying to find the right fit. The fit does not come out of thin air; it’s lovingly crafted over years (full-bust bra can take up to two years to get ready for the market!) to make the best bra for all women out there. This is the philosophy behind Fraulein Annie – quality lingerie should be something for everyone to enjoy without compromising the fit or comfort.

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I cannot bear to tell you that I don’t have anything new to show you from FA’s collection but I do have something to tell you! Fraulein Annie is a brand that doesn’t follow the traditional industry seasons but tries to put together a timeless collection which is now and then revised with new equally classic pieces. I was eager to ask Frauke to tell me about the new lines she has come up with and boy there is some pretty exciting things on our way.

First of all there is a new line called “Sei Lieb Zu Mir” which features amazing embroidery and also a new bridal range up F-cup. I have seen pictures of both and promise to post them here when I have my hands on them! At this point you just need to trust me on them being absolutely breathtaking. There is also other winds of change blowing when it comes to Fraulein Annie – there is a very possible chance of their size range getting bigger sometime in the future. This however happens most likely first to the smaller end of the size spectrum including AA-cups. The first smaller sized unpadded cups are in a design process now but also the other end of size spectrum is taken into consideration – as growing bigger Frauke has planned to possibly include HH-cups someday which is great news for us full-busted gals. 

This was it for today but as I told you also met up with the lovely Eva from All Undone and will share my discussions with her some day soon! Have a lovely weekend and hope life is giving sunshine to you all 🙂 xx

Interview with the founder of Bosom Galore – a new brand for small backs and big busts

23 Apr

I KNOW, I’M A BAD GIRL. No, not really cause who actually has been pretty bad is my dear laptop. First I thought there was something horribly wrong with my internet access but this bastard had decided just be a d-bag and not to let me use connect to the internet. Well, that is that and now I can get to the point. Today I am introducing y’all to a brand new lingerie designer who caught my attention recently. I was lurking in the wonderful Twitterville and discovered a brand that caters classy sophisticated lingerie for small backs and big busts so what’s not to like? I decided to contact the founder and designer of Bosom Galore, Katy Payne, to interview her about the upcoming launch of her first collection and was happy to get a quick reply. This was great news since I warmly welcome a new brand with size range starting from 26″ backs and going up to HH-cup. Bosom Galore also manufactures their designs in UK which supports the local textile industry. Here is what Katy had to say about her brain child…

First of all, I find it very interesting that you have worked for mental health care previously (I study psychology myself). How did you end up in the lingerie business? Do you think there is something you can apply from your previous jobs to your new career as a designer?

There isn’t really an obvious link between my work in mental health and founding Bosom Galore. Psychology has been a passion of mine since I was about 8 years old and my degree, along with my certificate in counselling, suited a career in mental health perfectly and I look back on my experiences incredibly fondly. As many may find however, working in mental health can be intense and emotionally draining and after a few years, I decided to take a break to reflect on the impact it was having on my own mental health. During that time, to help out, I started working for my husband as a web developer; he would send me the designs and I would build them in HTML.

During this period, one afternoon, my husband and I were sitting outside talking. I was having another rant about how frustrating it was to find lingerie that I like; complaining that the few bras available in 28GG look frumpy and are in garish fabrics and colours. I started talking about what I would do if I designed lingerie, when my husband said ‘well why don’t you?’ And it was then that I thought ‘yeah, why don’t I?’. And that’s when I launched into founding Bosom Galore. 

My website development skills certainly come in handy when it comes to managing my website but I’m yet to learn about e-commerce (which I start doing next week). With regards to applying my skills from mental health, I’m naturally a very genuine person and this, along with transparency, are traits that were fostered in my counselling certificate and I think that they are beneficial both in business and life; it can help to establish healthy and positive working and customer relationships.

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Tell us about the core values of your brand. What are the most important aspects when creating lingerie? 

A core value behind our brand is that women of any size should be able to wear beautiful, supportive and comfortable lingerie that boosts self-esteem and confidence. Wearing a correct fitting bra, that feels and looks sumptuous, can significantly improve posture and boost self-esteem. 

The most important aim with our brand is to provide lingerie and nightwear in small band and large cup sizes, although we do aim to expand our size range as we grow. Crucial qualities of this lingerie and nightwear are quality, shape, support, comfort and appearance. We are working incredibly hard to ensure that the bras are comfortable and create a lovely rounded shape. Our motivation behind this comes from my own experience of struggling to find lingerie with these qualities.

In addition to what we aim to produce, we support the UK textiles industry and so our lingerie is both designed and manufactured within the UK.

How would you describe your brand aesthetics and who is it essentially designed for? 

Aesthetically, I would describe our designs as classic, elegant and with a little vintage inspiration. Initially our size range is for women with small band and large cup sizes, however, we will expand this range as we grow. 

I would say that our lingerie is essentially designed for women who want satisfaction from their lingerie; to feel comfortable, supported and sexy. Our lingerie is designed by a consumer, for the consumer and so we have responded to, and resolved, the little things that can affect lingerie satisfaction. For example, we have designed our briefs to sit gently against the skin, to avoid any uncomfortable or unsightly indentations; an issue that we feel is all too frequently overlooked. And our labels are soft and positioned in a comfortable place to avoid any possible discomfort that they could cause. All of these little things can significantly affect our experience of our lingerie.

Your collections are designed and manufactured in UK. How did you come up with this decision?

We didn’t even consider importing. It seemed obvious to me to provide business within our country; supporting the UK textiles industry and the communities that it supports. I also feel that business and lingerie development is easier and more efficient when everyone involved lives in the same time zone, where mail delivery is swift and cheap and you can easily travel to meet in person if necessary; it was a wonderful experience to be able to pop over to our manufacturer a few weeks back to look around the factory and have a chat over a cup of tea. And working with a British designer has proven essential for ensuring regular lingerie fittings and efficient amendments to designs.

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Where did you draw inspiration to your first collection?

Our first collection is our Classique balconette lingerie and the design is one that I’ve held in my mind for perhaps a decade. For years, all I wanted was a classic, elegant, day to day balconette bra made from silk and lace. The design is ideal for wearing under t-shirts, shirts and evening wear; I see it an essential lingerie set that can be worn for all occasions. 

The emotional motivation behind it comes from the impact that I feel day to day lingerie has on our self-esteem. Like many women, I’ve spent years starting my day putting on my trusty old and tired t-shirt bra and each time I’ve looked in the mirror to see a grey, tired bra with mismatched knickers; I’ve felt unattractive. It’s quite a sad way to start your day, every day. Starting my day in a matching set of beautiful silk and lace lingerie sets a completely different tone; I can feel proud of what I see in the mirror and I am sending myself the
message that I deserve to wear nice lingerie, every day. 

What has been the hardest part in setting up your own business and designing lingerie?

That’s a tough question to answer because whilst I’ve faced lots of challenges with Bosom Galore, I’ve enjoyed each and every one and have learnt so much about the industry, business and myself. I suppose the most difficult hurdle has been raising funds. Starting up a lingerie company requires significant investment prior to even having a product to sell, due to the expense of design and development. Managing impatience has also been a challenge. We’re incredibly eager to launch but must remain patient whilst we make the last few little tweaks to our designs to ensure good fit and shape.

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You are one of the first lingerie companies to include 26 backs in their collection. Was it an easy decision for you and why did you eventually end up making it?

It was a very easy decision. For a decade I have been a 28 band size, which has been the source of my prolonged frustration with trying to find a bra that I like. I’m quite an average sized woman and so I know that there must be smaller framed women than me who need a 26 band size. Our model for our photo shoot for example, was a 26, which shows that there are women out there who need a 26 and so we feel that it’s important to cater for them.

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If everything goes according to plans, your first collection will be launched next autumn. Any
plans, dreams or goals after that happens?

We have so much planned ahead. With regards to our future products, we aim to continue to expand our lingerie range to include different fabrics and styles and to resolve various wardrobe problems such as backless or strapless tops and dresses. We also want to significantly expand our nightwear range; at the moment our designs are more for special occasions and include an inbuilt, wired bra. However, we aim to offer more casual sleepwear with inbuilt, non-wired bras. In addition, we plan to offer maternity, nursing and mastectomy lingerie, to expand our size range significantly and to eventually offer swimwear… I’m yet to own a supportive and attractive bikini!

Many thanks to Katy who took the time to answer my questions! I am already in love with Bosom Galore and can’t wait to try their designs on when the autumn season comes 😉

 

Luxury for full-bust – An interview with Harlow & Fox

17 Dec
Recently there has been a few new-comers popping up in the field of luxury lingerie for full busts. This is definitely welcomed and many luxury lingerie lovers have been “ooh”ing and “aah”ing over the silks and quality laces that have suddenly reached the full bust world. I for one love a great silk or lace anytime and will definitely be investing in these new brands as soon as I land a new job and a stable income. While dreaming of these amazing designs and the pure quality I wanted to look into one of these new-comers known as Harlow & Fox. H&W was founded in England in 2011 and produces its designs in Great Britain. I truly value the kind of craftsmanship that is put into this brand’s designs so I decided to reach out to Harlow & Fox’s creative director Leanna Williams to ask some questions. Enjoy the interview!
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Tell me first a little bit about your brand; how it was born and who is the woman/team behind it?
– Harlow & Fox is a new British lingerie brand, specialising in luxurious, elegant garments designed specifically for the DD-G size range. The brand was born from my own desire to find sumptuous, beautiful, high-end lingerie that would fit a fuller bust size, with the same level of attention of detail and luxury fabrics as I saw in smaller size ranges. I was previously working as a registrar of marriages, so an entirely different field, but I knew what I wanted as a consumer, and set out to create it!
What does luxury mean to you? Was it easy/hard to combine luxury and full-bust products in practice?
-To me, luxury means beautiful materials, attention to detail, and garments that just feel special. Although an entirely impractical fabric, it was very important to me to be able to use as much silk as possible, and to use the same delicate, finely-made leavers laces I saw and loved in smaller size pieces. It was incredibly difficult to find a way to combine these materials with the need for greater structure, support and strength that comes with larger cup sizes, but we have used various reinforcing techniques to be able to make the most of the beauty of the silk, whilst not compromising on the fit. Everything possible is also lined in silk as well, to give that feeling of luxury next to the skin as well as on the outside.
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Where did you draw inspiration to your first collection?
-The inspiration for the first collection came from all the classic inspirational things – old time glamour, elegance, reclining on a chaise longue with a martini wearing ethereal floating robes… But the way they came together was more about the materials, and the colours. The fabrics themselves were perhaps the most important inspiration – the Viola, for example, was created from trying to find a way to showcase the exquisite lace to its best advantage.
Which one has been the most popular line of Harlow & Fox since you launched the first collection? Which design is your personal favourite?
-The most popular is probably a close contest between the Eleanor Almond and the Viola in terms of images shared online, and press interest, but the Alexandra is the one we’ve already sold out of some sizes in! (It is still possible as a special order though, so do send us an email if your size isn’t available online) So I’d say they’re all popular in their own way, but my personal favourite has to be the Eleanor. It’s just so timeless, and the colour looks so beautiful on.
We are reaching season SS14 already. Is the new collection already on it’s way and if so, what should we expect from it?
-The SS14 pieces will be arriving in Janauary and March, and will be the Eleanor recreated in a deliciously rich mink shade, perfect for Valentines Day; the Lydia, a combination of antique gold panelling and an intricate silk blend jacquard; and the Sophia, named after my mother, which features a gorgeous floor length sheer kimono and beautifully subtle allover leavers lace.
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Tell me about your target market. Who is Harlow & Fox woman? 
-The Harlow & Fox woman is not necessarily a rigid follower of fashion, but appreciates classic, timeless styles, and wears her lingerie to feel beautiful within herself, first and foremost. She wants to own something that is made well, that brings out her natural beauty, and that makes her feel special, elegant and indulged.
What is in store for Harlow & Fox in the future?
-We will be introducing our AW14/15 range to buyers in the new year, which we’re very excited about, and hope to expand into more international wholesale stockists in the near future.
Many thanks for Harlow & Fox for the interview! I personally am already in love with this brand and can’t wait to be in the position to buy their designs. What about you? Is H&F something you would wear? Let me know in the comments!

Presenting Full-Bust Innovators: SugarShape Lingerie

13 Dec

As a lingerie and a bra fit blogger I’m always on a quest to find new (at least to me) innovative full-bust brands that have a unique way to see and create things. I hugely admire brands that have something very recognizable in the way they work and so I bumped into a German lingerie brand SugarShape while venturing in the lingerie blogosphere. I was immediately struck by the distinctive way they worked and created their lingerie designs so I decided to reach out to the brand and ask them some details about what is the secret behind their immediate success. This company was founded no before than 2012 so surely there was some magic that happened behind the scenes.

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Probably my favourite bra set from SugarShape, “Ruby”. It screams Christmas spirit and flirtation!

The company was founded to fill a gap in the German lingerie market. Full-bust lingerie is definitely something new to middle Europe and so the two sisters behind SugarShape wanted to take the challenge to get women in well-fitting bras in Germany and countries nearby. They also wanted to create something that would truly meet the customers’ needs and decided to get them involved in the design process. This is how the brand’s unique approach to design was born and what makes them stand out from other full-bust companies.

To describe SugarShape’s design process I would use the words “inclusive” and “fun”. They have a specific section on their website to vote for the bra designs; everything from colour to pattern and so on. Also the names of the bra sets are decided by customers. This means that customers get the exact styles they want and only the features that THEY value get to go to production. Also the customers can customize their bras with little bra charms that can be attached to any Sugar Shape bra they choose. 

To add another aspect to their customer relations SugarShape is committed to find out what they customers really like and prefer. There is a wishlist option on their website which allows customers to add their wishes when it comes to shapes, sizes and designs so that the company knows what needs still need to be responded. They also arrange fitting events to listen to their customers and at the same time spread the knowledge on bra fit and their amazing brand. 

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“Seaside”, a style I adore which has sadly sold-out

When it comes to sizing SugarShape has created an entirely own system that is free of size-related emotions and restrictions. They use underbust and overbust cm measurements to dictate your bra size so there are no cupsizes that might trigger the dreaded letterphobia. To me this seems like a great way to get women in well-fitting bras without any drama usually attached to big cups. In practice this cm based sizing means taking your tight underbust and loose overbust (with a bra on) measurements in cm’s and then matching them with the closest size available. Eg my underbust measurement in roughly 73 cm so I would probably opt for  a 75 cm band. 

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“Leyla” looks like a great basic with a sexy twist. Just what a girl wants in an everyday bra!

So what is in store for SugarShape in the future? Today SugarShape ships mainly to Germany, Austria and Switzerland but they also deliver to other parts of the world when contacted by e-mail. To make international customer relationships easier SugarShape will also launch their English e-commerce site soon, so keep checking their social media platforms and website for that! There will also be a lot of new styles up for grabs in the beginning of year 2014 which I personally can’t wait to see. 

I would like all of you to keep in mind that SugarShape wants to produce sizes and styles that we customers actually need so please be active and reach out to them if there is something you’d like to see when it comes to their designs. At the moment their size range delivers to women with 63-103 cm underbust and 78-123 cm overbust but they are willing to expand the size range if there is a true demand for it! This is a great brand to contact if there is something you can’t find elsewhere so I would encourage everyone to take part in their design process 😉

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