[10 MINUTE READ]
Happy Friday! The months are flying by and along with the warmer climate, comes the pressure to strip off and show a little more skin. But, showing skin and feeling sexy and confident shouldn’t be something for a select few. We believe it is something that every woman should be able to achieve.
Someone who agrees with us is the formidable CEO and designer of Louie Loungewear, Sandra Grabowska. Sandra started up the brand that boasts underwear, pyjamas and even dresses, with the belief that ‘no body is perfect’, therefore, we all can feel confident in our own skins. With exciting, diverse and body-positive fashion campaigns, Louie Loungewear hopes to bridge the gap and help us all on our way to feeling fabulous.
We were lucky enough to chat to Sandra this week to find out about her background and how she got started. So keep reading if you fancy getting to know the woman behind Louie and get ready for your weekly dose of inspo...
Welcome Sandra! Lovely to have you. Could you begin by describing your childhood and how you feel that has influenced you today?
The person who had the greatest influence on me and what I am doing now is my grandmother. She’s a dressmaker and instilled me with a passion for fashion. Even when I was a little girl I remember how I used to design outfits for my dolls and we would sew them together. To this day, I love to go and see her for tea and we often sew something together.
That is so lovely! So from a business perspective, how did you get your foot in the door of the fashion industry?
I started my career with internships. I wanted to get to know every element of the fashion industry; working with a fashion designer, at a creative agency and working at fashion magazines like Glamour or Elle. This experience gave me valuable insight and skills that I still use today. I understood that running a fashion brand is a complicated endeavour; I knew that I would need some business skills in order to succeed. This is why I decided to combine fashion design with business studies.
That’s really smart. Not everyone thinks that far ahead! So when did you decide to start up Louie Loungewear and why?
I’ve always been a creative person. I have always loved art classes, exhibitions, and culture really inspires me. The idea first hit me whilst I was studying fashion design because I realised I really wanted to go my own way. I longed to create functional items for people- not necessarily the most artistic aspiration- although I absolutely admire designers like Iris Van Herpen. I still felt a bit insecure about starting my own brand though, which is why I decided to study Brand Management. I consider myself to be a perfectionist, so it was only after finishing my studies that I started working on the strategy and transferring all the visions in my head onto paper.
"I think people are beginning to appreciate quality over quantity, and see the value of a minimalist lifestyle."
I can definitely relate to that. So what were your biggest challenges in starting up Louie Loungewear?
The biggest challenge at the beginning, not only for me, but for many young designers, is finding financial aid. Another problem I encountered was finding contractors that were willing to accept a small quantity of orders. This is a real challenge for young designers as the required quantities are often unreachable for them.
I bet! There’s a lot to risk when you’re just getting started. What strategies have been key to the success of Louie Loungewear?
Ensuring that you treat every task with equal importance is crucial. There is so much more to a fashion brand than the fun bits like photoshoots and creating new samples; it all takes a lot of time.
Absolutely. It’s not all that glamourous. Speaking of the less glamourous parts, we are particularly interested in hearing about how you consider sensitive skin throughout your manufacturing process.
When we design our collections, we attach great importance to the materials we use. We have always wanted to use good quality fabrics to create gorgeous pieces at an affordable price. That’s why we use natural and body-friendly fabrics, such as: viscose, silk or tencel. When it comes to underwear, we are able to obtain lace and pleats from factories in France and Italy.
It’s nice to hear that you are committed to sourcing body-friendly materials for your clothing. Do you think people are more conscious of the materials in their clothes nowadays then?
I think people are beginning to appreciate quality over quantity, and see the value of a minimalist lifestyle. Secondly, many people are paying greater attention to brands that are sustainable; they would prefer to invest in natural fabrics that don't impact the environment negatively. For me personally, harsh fabrics like denim irritate my skin so I have to take special care of it. I think this has made me even more conscious of the importance of making clothes out of natural fabrics like cotton and skin. I believe all of these factors have caused a massive awakening for the fashion industry in recent years.
Totally! I hope that what we are passing through at the moment with the COVID- 19 crisis also helps to unite people in recognising the value slow fashion can have on the planet. So how does Louie Loungewear consider sustainability?
We sew our pieces in small Polish factories, which means that our products can be handmade with love and great attention to detail.
I love that personal touch; it makes a world of difference. Ok, so what is your favourite thing about having started Louie Loungewear?
Creating new collections gives me a lot of satisfaction. The process of visiting trade shows and fabric fairs, looking for and choosing fabrics, and sewing prototypes are what I love the most. I also enjoy the personal contact with clients. Wherever there is an opportunity to get to know them better, I take it. It gives me an immense amount of motivation to continue doing what I do.
The creative process sounds so exciting, and interacting with customers must be so fulfilling. Right, so what is your absolute favourite piece that you have ever created?
I absolutely love the bodysuits. When a bodysuit is a part of my outfit or sticks out from under my shirt, I instantly feel sexier. I think the Bella bodysuit is my favourite; it also holds a special place in many of my clients’ hearts (and wardrobes).
The cut is so sexy on that one! What do you think makes Louie Loungewear stand out?
At Louie, we believe that ‘no body is perfect’, but we love all bodies equally. We love a woman who is confident and embraces her flaws and femininity; those things make her special. We are not afraid to show stretch marks or cellulite in our campaigns and we love to show our products on girls in every size.
I’ve been so pleased to see more and more international brands nowadays celebrating women of all different colours and shapes. Unfortunately, this progress has been a little slower in the Polish fashion industry. I believe Louie was one of the first Polish brands to publicly show stretch marks and cellulite in campaigns, but other brands have since followed suit. We are proud of the message we are sending out and we love receiving messages from our clients who feel confident wearing our lingerie, regardless of their shape or sizes.
"When the ‘No body is perfect’ campaign was launched we showed everyone what Louie lingerie stands for and, that every woman can feel sexy and beautiful, regardless of their size."
That is so fantastic! It’s crazy how long it has taken fashion brands to recognise that women want and need to see diversity in fashion. What has been your biggest “pinch-me” moment?
I think the biggest “pinch-me” moment for Louie Loungewear was when the ‘No body is perfect’’ campaign was launched. We showed everyone what Louie lingerie stands for and, that every woman can feel sexy and beautiful, regardless of their size. This campaign held a special message about self-love and body positivity; a message that is important to me, many of my friends and so many women around us.
Absolutely! It’s a really inspiring campaign. What inspires you?
It may sound cliché, but I try to get inspiration from everything that surrounds me. It could be a movie, an exhibition, nature, a trip to a new place... Wherever I go, I love to order a coffee and sit at a table watching people; their way of life, the way they dress, the way they interact.
I love to do that as well! You can tell so much about a place by people-watching. What’s your average day like at Louie Loungewear?
Everyday is different and brings its own challenges. I usually get up around 6 or 7am. I try to practice yoga every morning, which gives me energy for the rest of the day. Then, I talk with Mary, who is responsible for PR and communications at Louie Loungewear and we set a plan in place for the day. After that, it all depends on the moment we are at. I might finish sewing samples, take photos for Instagram, choose and order fabrics or go to the warehouse. Sometimes, I don’t manage to get through everything on my to-do list, but I have learned that is okay. It’s very tricky not to push yourself to get everything done when you’re a perfectionist though.
I can completely relate to this. In that vein, would you say you have a work/life balance?
This is certainly something that I aspire to have in my life. I’m learning everyday that if I don’t do something and wait a little, the world won’t collapse.
What words do you live by?
Family, happiness, friends, peace.
That’s the dream really, isn’t it? So, what’s next for Louie Loungewear?
We definitely want to continue to expand our brand and sell more products with the Louie tag abroad. It’s our goal to see Louie pieces in cool places around the world and most importantly, we want to see our pieces being worn by women everywhere. They inspire us to do what we do and we want them to feel confident and sexy in Louie.
Want more from CAROLINAGMX? Check this out: Trying...Versed Skincare With Sensitive Skin