[10 MINUTE READ]
Happy Friday all and welcome back to another interview! We hope you are all keeping your spirits high despite the tough global situation. Personally, we have got to that point in lockdown, where we need some colour and positivity in our lives...
Enter Georgia Larsen, Founder and Creative Director of Dora Larsen Lingerie. Dora Larsen Lingerie creates the most gorgeous, colourful lingerie that champions comfort, real women and femininity.
This week Georgia spoke to us about how she got into the fashion industry, why sustainability matters so much to her and where she finds her inspiration. Get ready to feel brighter, grab yourself a coffee and just keep reading...
"I felt that there wasn’t a brand out there that was really focusing on colour in a minimalist yet feminine way."
Morning Georgia! I am so pleased to chat with you! Could you start by telling me a bit about your childhood and how you feel it has influenced you today?
Thanks for having me! I definitely come from a very design-led family. My parents work in the arts, and my grandparents ran an interior design and architecture company. So, growing up, I guess there was a sense that art and design really mattered. I also remember my dad, an artist, often complaining about how unoriginal most artists were in the industry, so I felt it was crucial to be unique and create something that stood out from what others were doing.
That sounds like a very creative and inspiring childhood! Moving into your teenage years and early twenties, how did you go about getting into the fashion industry?
Truth be told, I was a bit of a naughty teenager growing up. I flunked my Art GCSE and dropped out of A-level art too. I was too busy partying! I managed to get some reasonably decent A-levels in other subjects though, so I applied to the London College of Fashion to study communications, twice. Unfortunately, both times I was rejected, which was really disheartening as I was very keen to get into the fashion industry. I ended up studying Media and Communications at Brighton University, and it was then that I set up a fashion blog. This was back in the pre-Instagram days... The blog, quite unexpectedly, started to take off and gain followers, and through that platform, I managed to land myself a job at Topshop as a Buyer’s Assistant.
Wow! That just shows how much power blogs can have! So when did you decide to start up Dora Larsen Lingerie and why? Was the timing important?
It had been in the back of my head a couple of years into my career as a buyer. The market at the time was saturated by lots of super-sexy strappy black lingerie or very plain basics. I felt that there wasn’t a brand out there that was really focusing on colour in a minimalist yet feminine way. Personally, I also felt that there wasn’t a brand that resonated with me from a marketing perspective, as most of the brands at the time seemed to market themselves as very classically ‘boudoir’. So yes, the timing was incredibly important! Dora Larsen Lingerie launched at a time where there was a real gap in the market for customers who wanted something special, but quotidian; and - of course - something colourful, to distract from all the black and beige in most lingerie departments.
It is so great that you noticed that gap in the market at just the right time for you personally. I truly love your lingerie! What is Dora Larsen Lingerie’s stance on sustainability?
Since Covid-19 hit the world, I have had a bit of a ‘sustainability awakening’, as I like to call it. I’ve always cared about sustainability and I was actually in the process of transitioning Dora Larsen Lingerie to more sustainable fabrics pre-Covid. Then, the virus hit, and I became aware of the connection between the pandemic and our environment. That awareness instilled me with a very strong moral obligation to accelerate our sustainability efforts. It is certainly not easy as everything in the industry is currently set up to make sustainability expensive and difficult. However, sustainability has become as important to me and I am determined to succeed with my efforts.
Absolutely! Covid-19 has brought the issue of our planet and what we are doing for it into sharp focus. I think that has made most people prioritise what is important to them. Do you think people are more conscious of the materials and fabrics in their clothes nowadays? If so, why?
Yes, I read an article the other day that said we are living in the age of ‘woke’. I couldn’t agree more – over the past few years, and especially since the virus, people are waking up to the realities and injustices within our society. The fashion industry is a major player in many of the inequalities that exist in the world, and of course, material and fabric production is a key factor in this. Perhaps I’m living in a bubble, but I know that a few years ago I used to buy a dress and not question what it was made out of, or really consider whether I needed it or not. I cannot do that anymore. Now, I have to google the brand first, check the care label and have a conversation with myself about how much use I will actually get from it.
I’m with you on that! I feel like once you wake up to the facts, there’s no going back. Moving back to Dora Larsen Lingerie, what were your biggest challenges in starting up the brand?
There are a couple that stand out to me. Firstly, not taking myself seriously enough and therefore other people not taking me seriously enough. Secondly, my small budget meant that I couldn’t afford to employ anyone, even on a freelance basis. I had to do everything myself, which led to me making a lot of mistakes. In some ways, I feel prouder that I managed to build the brand with such a small budget, but equally, I would have given anything to have avoided all the stress along the way!
I know what you mean! I do believe that the stress and mistakes make us stronger though. What strategies do you think have been key to the success of Dora Larsen Lingerie?
I think Dora Larsen Lingerie has a really strong USP. I was very set on creating a brand where the product could be instantly recognisable as I never wanted a product to be mistaken for being by another brand.
Another thing that has helped is that we have always spoken to our customers to find out what they want. That communication showed us that it was important to market ourselves in a very transparent way. We have never tried to be cool, pretentious, or sell our customers an unrealistic idea of what a body should look like. It was always important to me that the brand comes across as very real. I think this has been imperative in growing a loyal customer base over the years.
Absolutely! That is what first attracted me to Dora Larsen Lingerie. Your website is so authentic and unpretentious! What is your favourite thing about your job?
I love the social element, so meetings with the team, brainstorming ideas with my business partner (and husband), doing shoots and attending trade shows. Sadly, a lot of this has had to be put on hold since the onset of the virus!
What a shame! We will all get back to those social things though! Which is your favourite piece that you’ve ever created?
We’ve just received the final production samples of our new bespoke delicate lace range, which is launching this February. Our first colourway is called ‘Ebba’, named after my sister’s new baby. I am unbelievably happy with the fit, quality and comfort of it, even more so than anything we’ve produced previously or any other brand I’ve religiously worn in the past. I cannot wear anything else at the moment! I plan on getting the set in every colour we produce in the future!
"I’m vintage obsessed and constantly on the hunt for amazing Laura Ashley dresses and furniture on Vinterior."
That sounds gorgeous! I cannot wait to check it out! So, what do you think makes Dora Larsen Lingerie stand out?
I suppose it would have to be our colour combinations! I put a lot of energy into trying to create unique colour combinations that people haven’t seen before, so I hope this shows in the pieces.
Oh, it absolutely does! Could you describe your biggest “pinch-me” moment so far since creating Dora Larsen Lingerie?
There have been so many! I honestly never expected the brand to take off in the way that it has. The biggest moment was probably when we launched in Net-A-Porter. I had always looked at brands on Net-A-Porter for inspiration, so I feel incredibly lucky to have gained recognition with them.
That is such a huge milestone! I love Net-A-Porter! Where does your inspiration come from?
People ask me this question a lot and, to be honest when it comes to colour, I’m not sure. I don’t really go to Pinterest or look for inspiration when developing the colour combinations. It is a pretty organic process whereby I combine lots of colours and go with my instinct.
When it comes to fashion and style, I’m vintage obsessed and constantly on the hunt for amazing Laura Ashley dresses and furniture on Vinterior. I try to stay away from too much social media. While it can be very inspiring to see what other people are wearing, it often feels like information overload!
And what does an average day look like for you?
It is a bit of a mad rush in the morning trying to get my 2-year-old daughter ready, but eventually, I get there and make it into the office for about 10. Then, I’ll usually spend an hour or so catching up on emails. At the moment, everyone is working from home, so I get on the phone to the teams that manage marketing, wholesale and production, and go through plans for the week ahead. It usually varies so much day to day, but usually, I juggle meetings with my business partner/husband, attending fit sessions for new products, interviewing people, sketching ideas or planning photoshoots. I oversee all the creative sides of the business, but I am also involved in our top tier wholesale accounts.
That sounds very busy indeed, particularly with a young child. Do you think you have a work/life balance?
In the past, I definitely did not but, in the space of just a couple of months, I have been able to balance things much more. Getting a work phone was a game-changer too as I previously used to check my emails at all hours of the day and weekend. I have come to accept that I cannot control every part of the business, and as a result, I have been able to get a bit more balance back into my life.
That is a really valuable lesson I think! What words do you live by?
‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ by Ghandi. I feel strongly about a lot of political, social and ethical issues in the world, and this quote signifies how important it is for us all to do what we can in our own lives, rather than simply waiting for governments or businesses to change.
I couldn’t agree more! What’s next for Dora Larsen Lingerie?
Dora Larsen Lingerie is expanding into new categories, which is really exciting. Our nightwear launches this May and we hope to launch swimwear in the not-too-distant future. I am taking each day as it comes though; the virus has taught me not to plan too far ahead!
Like what you read? Head to Dora Larsen Lingerie to shop now!
If you fancy checking out some of our previous interviews, you can find them here. Want more from CAROLINAGMX? Check this out: Your Cheat Sheet to the Microcurrent Facial with Foreo Bear
Image 1 by Mafalda Silva (@mafaldasilva)
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Image 3 by Emma Hoareau (@emmahoareau)
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Image 5 by Mafalda Silva (@mafaldasilva)
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Image 7 by Emma Hoareau (@emmahoareau)