Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Up Close and Personal with Indie Designer--Carrie Russell of "With Love Lingerie"


 Sexy, Bold, Beautiful, Feminine

All this and more can be said about Carrie Russell, and her line of lingerie "With Love Lingerie".  Carrie started her business in 2009, and has fast become an Indie designer to watch for.  She has had fashion shows at Fashion Arts Toronto (FAT), as well as trunk shows, and features in magazines such as Glow and Flare....I'm sure this is only the beginning.  I can't wait to see what she has in store next.  Now for some personal questions......

1.  How old were you when you first got interested in lingerie???
I started to love lingerie from a young age.  I remember getting a bra and pantie set in a Barbie outfit package along with a dress, shoes and purse...the lingerie to me was the best part. Haha.  From there I just really loved all things lacy and pretty, I remember being mesmerized by Cindy Lauper in her vintage strapless bustiers and tutus in her music videos.  I started collecting vintage lingerie in my teens at local charity shops and estate sales. 


2.  Why did you start your own line???? Was it scary? What kind of risks were involved in going on your own?  
I started the line on my own in 2009 after leaving a production manager job for a cocktail dress designer.  It was terrifying and still is.  Obviously my biggest fear was finances and I'm fortunate to have a wonderful life partner who understands the struggle and works with me to formulate a strategic plan each year to make sure I reach my design and financial goals with the business.  

3.  Were people supportive of your dream/ideas?? Did you have to overcome discouragement/disillusionment?
I still have people who don't really understand what I do, they ask me if I could hem their pants or make a curtain for them which is not beneath me at all but just not what I do with my business.  My husband is very supportive though and often is the first to defend me to other family members when they are shocked that my designs are carried in many retail locations and a department store.  My biggest pet peeve is when I'm out socializing and somebody starts in on what I should design and sell...I'm always open to feedback but offering suggestions without even knowing my brand and in a non-work setting drives me crazy.  I'm polite but try to steer the conversation in a different direction.

4.  Do you design items just for yourself, that you don't sell???  
Yes I make any cocktail dresses that I have to wear to fashion events, and I often make things for my home and even boxer briefs for my husband.  But the boxer briefs might be something I start selling soon as I've had many clients request them.  

5.  Do you do any custom work for sizes that are not in your current business model?
My bread and butter is custom work.  I usually have at least 10 commissions on the go of either custom sizing or custom designs for clients.  As for sizing, I will make any of my pieces in any size and at least 1/4 of my sales online are for clients who have measurements outside my posted size charts. 
6.  Have you ever/do you plan on making any larger cup sizes...for those us that can't wear bralettes????  
 I used to make an underwire bra and it was wholesaled to a few retail shops however, as a one woman army with a small studio I found trying to keep all the sizes of all the bra wires very costly.  By the time I worked out the pricing with materials and my labour the bra priced out of what people were willing to invest in an indie designer's underwire bra.  However, I do make the bra for clients that request it and lately have found a better supplier for the materials so am toying with bringing the Beatrice bra back .

7.  What is your FAVORITE item you have created??? can you share a picture, or sketch.  What do you love about it. My favorite piece I created was for Flare magazine and Matel.  It was a dress made out of 1200 bra straps and I had to make one for a runway show and one for a Barbie!  I was like a kid on Christmas when Matel couriered a boxed Barbie to my front door!  The dress was photographed for Flare and it was so exciting to see one of my biggest design muses wearing my creation.
barbie dress on natalie brown.jpg
flare barbie feature.jpg
8.  Do the items change for you, during the process of creating-photography-modeling??? 
Yes I've been fortunate to have connected to many super talented and recognized photographer and models.  Often they inspire me to create pieces based on concepts we discuss.  I have learned that less is more as my goal is to have the woman to wear the lingerie not the other way around.  In a photo the lingerie should add to the image rather than command it.  

9.  Are there any certain styles that you refuse to design???  Not really, I make many pieces for private clients that I'm sure some designers would shrink away from or feel uncomfortable designing or conversing about.  But I'm never embarrassed by a request, especially from a long time client.  The only time I'd not make a certain piece is if I don't have the capability or expertise to do properly.  Men often request custom pieces and I'm happy to work on the garments.   I have refused commissions based on the customer using disrespectful language when describing their request, but that is less about the garments and more about the design relationship or dynamic that made me back away.  

10.  What is the main goal you want to achieve for someone when they buy your items???  Sexy? confident? beautiful??
 I want the lingerie to be a gateway for women to be comfortable in their own skin.  Ideally I want my pieces to frame and highlight what a woman already loves about herself.  Typically my clients are from 30 and up, they are confident and beautiful and appreciate having lingerie that compliments their personality and best assets. 



11.  How important is the 'feel' of a garment to a buyer...more important than it's looks???  
Feel and look really do go hand in hand.  I have learned not to force a fabric into a silhouette that isn't suitable.  A silk charmeuse won't work for a waist cincher and though would have a nice hand, would compromise the look of the design and the comfort of wearing it.  I tend to like to work with fabrics with a very soft hand, I enjoy drape, sheer and soft to the touch fabrics and my designs reflect that.  

12.  Are clients more demanding in regards to fit with custom, or indie made garments then they are with RTW??? (I find I'm a lot pickier with items I've made then bought)
 I think clients no are more savvy than ever with their knowledge of garments and fit.  Being a designer for both a large rtw company and now my own line I feel all clients expect quality and fit regardless of the size of your business.

13.  What is the best/worst aspects of working for yourself? 
 Wearing all the hats can be very tiring.  Sewing production all day, spending the early evening doing admin and then heading off to do a pop up shop in the evening really takes it out of me some days. However, the best part is seeing your hard work pay off and having no limits on your professional and personal growth.  



14.  What current trends do you see in the marketplace?
I am finally seeing lingerie be recognized as part of the fashion industry.  I'm happy that many of my retailers are catering to a marketplace that wants to see lingerie hanging above the newest cocktail dress styles or jewelry collection.  Many of my newest stockists are more like fashion general stores and it is exciting to see that market spurring this trend on and hope it is here to stay.

15.  Where do you see yourself/business in 5/10 years.  Do you hope to expand or keep to the business model you have now? 
I do want to keep my business model very similar.  My goal is to move to an offsite studio space with a part-time seamstress for backup. I'd ideally like a more European atelier model where by appointment, people can shop my collection but mainly my space would be for the creation of the lingerie rather than a full boutique.  I never want to be far from the sewing machine as the creation of the lingerie is my favorite part.  I identify as a maker rather than a business mogul.  I'm far from a mogul! haha

16.  Where do you get your inspirations for each season??? Can you give us any ideas,hints, or previews to your fall line?? 
I draw inspiration from music, art, conversation, nature, really it all collides and melts together and out of it comes my sketching session where I concept a new collection.  For holiday I'll still be presenting Mercy that was released earlier this year, but after that I'll be working on a capsule collection and you'll be seeing a lot of red tones, I just love red!

17.  Have you ever considered selling your patterns for home sewers like myself????  
I'm not against selling my patterns but the work that goes into digitizing them (I work mostly manually) and preparing them properly would mean too many things to juggle.  I know there are quality lingerie patterns out there on Etsy and online so I usually refer sewists that way.  
I do teach workshops and classes regularly at Sew Be It in Toronto and even host some booze and bralette sew alongs in Toronto and Hamilton pubs now and again.  

18.  How do you feel your background/upbringing influences your choices??? do you feel more restrained because of it, or do you rebel against them? I feel that my upbringing taught me to listen to my heart and that you have to be responsible for your own joy, no book can show you these things.  I'm inspired to bring the sensual, the fun, and the beautiful to people's lives one stitch at a time.
 http://www.withlovelingeriexoxo.com/
Thank you very much Carrie for taking the time to share with all of us. Come back on Friday to see the generous offer from With Love Lingerie.  Her site is full of beautiful bra's and panties, you will be tempted to treat yourself!!!!
Make sure to follow her With Love Lingerie FB page as wall as her Instagram #withlove_lingerie



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5 comments:

  1. Wow, so fascinating and inspiring; gotta love hearing from successful women chasing their dreams!

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    Replies
    1. It's amazing!!! so fulfilling I'm sure.

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  2. Great to hear of another local talent.

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  3. Super cool too hear all about her business. I didn't realize there were indie lingerie companies!

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