[6 MINUTE READ]
Happy Friday all and welcome back to another Friday Founder Interview! With scorching temperatures across the country this week, many of you might have been wearing as little clothing as possible, and we wouldn’t blame you!
Something we never compromise on though is our lingerie and so, this week, we spoke to Cindy Liberman, the CEO of Lara Intimates.
Lara Intimates is an environmentally responsible lingerie brand, built for real women of all shapes and sizes; to make everyone feel good! We hope this interview will make you feel good too, so grab your morning brew and let’s hear from Cindy...
"At University I learned so much about sustainability and was shocked by how the industry operated."
Morning Cindy! We are always curious to hear about people’s backgrounds, so let’s start at the beginning. How do you feel your childhood has influenced where you are today?
I grew up in Boston, USA. I learned to sew with my grandma when I was really young and I always knew I wanted to go into fashion or interior design. Then, in 2012, I moved to London to study at the London College of Fashion. It was there where I learned about sustainability for the first time.
Wow! What a big move across the pond! So, how did you get started in the fashion industry?
Whilst I was studying at the London College of Fashion I actually worked for small fashion companies, and then, in my final year, I started up Lara Intimates.
You started the brand whilst still at University? Wow! Was the timing important?
Yes, absolutely! I started working on Lara Intimates in 2016, and we launched in 2017. We launched just before sustainability became completely mainstream and people were really focused on local and ethical manufacturing. In retrospect, it was a really good time to launch because the customer actually understood the issues we were trying to make change in.
At University I learned so much about sustainability and was shocked by how the industry operated. I was studying lingerie design, which was fascinating because the manufacturing was such a big employer of women a few decades ago.
The supply chain is still so complicated and environmentally harmful though. And because designers, factories, warehouses, brands and customers are all so far away from each other, the product is not always what the customer wants. I realised that if we put our factory and brand under one roof, we could make the best product in the world.
It is such a simple yet brilliant concept! You know that at CAROLINA GMX we are really interested in how brands consider issues relating to sensitive skin. What is the Lara Intimates point of view on sensitivities and allergies?
It is something that we definitely consider. All our products are nickel-free, and we’re about to introduce several natural fabric products. We also use a specialist lingerie component supplier that has a range of nickel-free, gold hardware.
That’s fantastic! Apart from putting your brand and factory under one roof, what else is Lara Intimates doing in terms of sustainability?
At Lara Intimates, we are building a new kind of manufacturing business where the wellbeing of people and the planet are core values. We only use eco-friendly and local British suppliers to reduce waste and transport emissions. We make all our products in-house in London because we can monitor our sustainable processes. We employ ten amazing people, and the majority are sewing machinists. Finally, all our fabric offcuts are recycled and we’re certified carbon neutral.
That’s very cool! So, do you think people are more conscious of the materials and fabrics in their clothing nowadays?
I think people are definitely more conscious of what they buy and how it is made. However, I also still think people purchase for function first. It’s the job of a sustainable business to deliver on amazing products as well as great values and practices.
I absolutely agree! For you, what were your biggest challenges in starting up a business?
Running Lara Intimates means managing a factory and a brand at the same time. It is like having two businesses. I’m constantly switching between the factory - where I make sure the product is made perfectly - to the brand - where I make sure we sell all our products and deliver for the customer. It’s absolutely crazy, but I love it!
And what strategies do you think have been key to the success of Lara Intimates?
The factory is the heart of our business. We make everything in-house, so we have more lingerie product expertise than other brands. I think the tight communication between factory and brand has been really key for us. The factory also gives us an amazing story to share with our customers.
Totally! That is very special. From a personal perspective, what is your favourite thing about your job?
I love going to work in a room full of buzzing machines. I am also incredibly lucky to work with really talented, inspiring people.
"When we were a new brand and had no money for marketing, I would turn on Instagram and show our followers what was happening in the Lara Intimates studio."
People completely make a business! Could you describe what an average day looks like for you?
I am usually up around 6:30 am and do a short meditation. I’ll get to work by 8:30 am, and check on things around the studio. I’ll look at how production is going, review the upcoming production schedules, and fit new products. I try to carve out creative time to work on our website or new collaborations too, but it’s really difficult!
You have to wear a lot of different hats clearly! Which is your favourite piece that you’ve ever created?
The one that’s coming soon!
Can’t wait! So, what do you think makes Lara Intimates stand out?
I think Lara Intimates stands out because we are a fundamentally different lingerie brand. We aren’t just ticking a few boxes for sustainability. We actually run our own manufacturing unit, perform skills training for employees, address fabric waste every day and get into every detail of our products and environmental impact.
When we were a new brand and had no money for marketing, I would turn on Instagram and show our followers what was happening in the Lara Intimates studio. I think our customers have loved that authenticity and story from day 1.
Definitely! It makes you actually want to shop somewhere. It’s been a really busy few years for you since starting the brand, could you describe your biggest “pinch-me” moment?
A couple of years ago, I was invited to 10 Downing Street to be part of a discussion about how the government could support young entrepreneurs. I felt really lucky to have that opportunity.
Whoa! Talk about making moves! What inspires you?
Customer stories really inspire me. When we first launched, there was a customer who came to shop in our studio. She was a size 30F and bought a few bras. After she left, she sent us a message on Instagram saying she had been planning on having a breast reduction, but no longer felt like she had to because our bras are so comfortable. That made me emotional!
That’s so inspiring! What words do you live by?
“Live in alignment with your values”, “Love yourself first” and “You can do absolutely anything that you set your mind to”.
I love those! So, what’s on the horizon for Lara Intimates?
We have a few new products coming out soon. I’m very excited about it! I think they will be our best ones to date. I’m wearing mine right now, and the team is obsessed with these designs!