Photo by Iberian Black Arts
I wanted to share Betty Blue’s Loungerie with you all. This is my friends company and is filled with items I know you will just love. The aim of Betty Blue’s Loungerie is to create both comfy and glamorous lounge wear to recline and relax in just as those stars of Hollywood did in the 1930’s-1950’s old fashioned films; To rid the world of onesies, sweat pants and hoodies and offer a much more feminine and opulent alternative.
So inspired by the starlets of the past and their elegant gowns Betty decided to train technically in lingerie, corsetry and swimwear design. She gained entry to the prestigious (and only course in the world for such specialist skills) DeMontfort lingerie course, graduating in the summer of 2010 with BA (Hons) in Contour Fashion. Her final collection, naturally, was based on old Hollywood Hitchcock films and his blonde femme fatales.On graduation, Betty embarked on building her skills by interning at several luxury lingerie companies, notably Lascivious and Buttress and Snatch. She also did a brief spell at a gorgeous luxury boutique, The Lingerie Collective, just off Carnaby Street. Whilst there she learnt valuable insight from customers as to what they want in their lingerie and loungewear choices.
It was this combined with Betty’s own experiences as a student that Betty Blue’s Loungerie was finally born!
Not only is this a very fabulous business, but a local business to me. I am all for supporting independent female businesses especially supporting local ones! And she is somewhat of a star, regularly appearing in the Basingstoke Gazette. Betty first appeared in the Basingstoke Gazette as part of the Start Up Hub Competition 2012 (which she won by the way!). More recently she has been featured as part of the Local Business Accelerator Scheme, winning business mentoring from local businesses. If she is chosen from the local round, she will go on to pitch to Deborah Meaden of Dragon’s Den to win business mentoring from her, as well as £10,000.
You will notice some beautiful models wearing the garments, from Banbury Cross, Morgana, Fleur De Guerre and Betty herself modelling her own clothing for the first time! A girl after my own heart with her porcelain skin, red hair and lips and looking so stunning in all the outfits she is modelling. Her first ever photoshoot was shot by the fabulous Morgana of Iberian Black Arts who also did the Hair and Make-Up as well as the digital art and retouching.
I first got to know Betty when I approached her via social media to attend a pin up meet and greet I was organising for Pin Up Girl Clothing social media site called Pin Up Girl Style. She attended the evening meal and cocktails and the rest is history! From lunches out, shopping, cocktails and a weepy time at Les Miserable we have found a lot of things in common, from our love of Dita Von Teese (thanks to me her purse is now a little lighter from becoming a member of Dita’s website), burlesque, vintage fashions, red hair dye, rollers, red lippy, make up, doggys, and more
Photo by Iberian Black Arts
Photo by Iberian Black Arts
Now it’s your turn to get up close and personal with Betty, for an exclusive Q&A session!
Do you stick to your own mantra and spend every night looking fabulous in your gorgeous robes or do you have nights like a lot of women do where the fluffy dressing gown and slippers come out?
I like to practice what I preach and try to stay glam as often as possible. Obviously we all have our days where we feel a little under the weather and hair and make-up tends to go out the window. However I do wear all of my products as much to test they are fit for purpose than anything. And that is really why I started my own business in glam loungewear, because I was sick of wearing baggy unattractive garments at home! As I work from home, I feel it is important to feel good in myself and ones appearance plays a big part in that. So I do wear my robes and siren suits around the house. As for fluffy gowns and slippers.....I have samples of my very own glam version of the fluffy gown that I literally haven’t taken off since I made it!!!! I know you guys are gonna LOVE it when it’s released!!!
What is your favourite piece from Betty Blue’s Loungerie?
I would say that my favourites are the Bettie Robe for sheer decadent luxury and said fluffy gown which I am yet to release. It’s warm, for our British winters, comfortable and oh so sexy!!!
What is a customer going to get from a Betty Blue’s purchase?
I would say Betty Blue’s Loungerie isn’t necessarily for the masses. What you will get is a garment that is well thought out. Is it glamorous? Does it make the wearer feel fabulous? Is it feminine? Is it totally decadent and luxurious? Is it comfortable? If you are looking for something comfortable that hides your figure away in layers of grey and beige then you won’t find it with me! Betty Blue’s is all about celebrating your femininity and fabulousness as a woman. Oh and it will come wrapped up in tissue and encased in a beautiful Betty Blue’s display box to keep it safe and sound J.
Will you be doing any plus size specific pieces for more top heavy/ voluptuous ladies out there?
As a small business it is really difficult to be all things to everyone. I am not a plus size brand, as it is not my niche. I am a glamorous luxury lounge wear brand. It’s what I know and what I am good at. In that sector most customers are standard, core UK sizes, by which I mean 8/10/12/14/16/18. Of course you get women either side of this spectrum but the fact is most of my money comes from these standard sizes. I myself am a UK 6/8 which means I don’t necessarily understand the fuller size of the market, being a skinny minny. Production costs are expensive and so I have to go where the money is. If there is enough interest then sure I will increase my size range. For example, I started my company with three sizes S, M and L. That was 18 months ago when I was very new and had no customers. 18 months down the line, I have wonderful customers who are very loyal to me, so excitingly I can increase my size range to now include XS and XL. It’s just a case of building things up slowly and surely and building my pennies up so I can include more sizes (so I need all of you to buy what I have already!!). If I were to do a specialist Plus Size range it would have to be at a stage in my business where I could afford to hire an expert in this area as I would want to do it properly J. So in short, yes, maybe in the future J.
How did you find your high street retail experience?
Honestly I found it a little depressing. I am a great believer of bringing the high street back filling it with small businesses that are interesting and exciting. So many high streets just look the same, you wouldn’t be able to tell where in the country you were (or even the world!). In theory pop up shops with small independent businesses are brilliant as the business gets high street experience at a reduced price, and the high street sees regeneration and more business coming its way. In reality, I can make more money sitting on my bum on my sofa with a laptop and social media. Shops tie you to them and are quite restrictive. As a new niche brand I don’t have the kind of following that people know who I am and will make a special journey to come and see me, that is something that will come in time. So the person just walking off the high street isn’t necessarily going to be my customer, I may be too expensive, or not sell sweats and T-Shirts that they want. I can specifically target my kind of customer on the internet. So high street is a tricky place for me. And I don’t think that the high street in the UK is ever going to be the same as it was in the past. So great idea for your typical cheap gifty kind of business model, but for luxury, unknown, niche brands probably not the right avenue for me to go down. I would much rather be in someone else’s shop, such as lingerie boutiques, than in my own, as they will have the right kind of person stepping through the door.
I personally like to have the chance to see/feel/try on what I am going to buy, will you be doing any more pop up events to give people the opportunity for this or are you sticking to online all the way?
I will carry on doing direct selling events as you are right, it is important to be able to try garments on and also to get feedback from my customers. But I will do more weekender type set ups rather than tying myself to a shop. Weekenders are great because it’s only a few days so I can meet people and people can try my garments on and look how excellent the quality of my garments are, but then I get to go home and invent new products and carry on being awesome. A shop ties me down too much so I don’t have time to develop even more awesome products. I do however want to get my garments into lingerie and clothing stores worldwide so that people can buy my stuff through different ways. So in answer to your question I will be doing both! Just in a slightly different approach to pop up shops
How has the experience of modelling been for you?
Photo by Iberian Black Arts
I found the whole thing very liberating! I mean who wouldn’t want to be pampered and preened then made to look fabulous in front of the camera and have fabulous pictures to take away from the day. Morgana is a true professional and knows her stuff so I was in very safe hands at Iberian Black Arts. She does make over shoots that take you from looking au natural to AMAZING in a few hours, so I definitely recommend giving her a visit to cheer yourself up. The reason I did it was because a little birdie told me in business it is good to scare yourself. What is more scary than wearing very little clothing and putting yourself out there to potentially be judged by all and sundry. The result? Pretty pictures and a feeling you can do ANYTHING if you really put your mind to it. The only thing that is stopping you is yourself. So give it a go and see how amazing you feel after J
Who would you love to have model for you?
If budget was not a problem, well it has to be Ms Von Teese hasn’t it. She is effortlessly glam and is the type of person who I would imagine my perfect customer to be. Someone who dresses up to the nines when in public, then goes home to slip into a beautiful full length robe (wouldn’t she look great in my Bettie Robe!!). As far as supermodels go, I have a big girl crush on Rosie Huntington - Whitely too.
There is a resemblance between you and Ms Dita Von Teese, aside from the red hair of course you have a very similar look, size and style. So do tell, what are your beauty secrets?
My beauty secrets are MOISTURIZER. I am not blessed with the clearest of skins and have struggled with acne in the past so I am quite obsessive about my skin regime. Everyday come rain or shine (or tiredness or lazyness) I cleanse, tone and moisturise. Then once a week I do a face peel (Philosophy Microdelivery Peel) and a clay mask. Does it make a difference? Well I don’t know but it makes me feel better and my skin soft as a babies bum. Other than that I eat well. If you eat shit, you will look like shit, simple as. I’m a great believer in common sense. I don’t diet, but I eat healthily and everything in moderation. The only thing you shouldn’t moderate is fruit and veg, eat as much of those babies as you like! I don’t really like green veg so I find ways of making it taste of what I do like. So I drink green smoothies which don’t taste like vegetables. Or I put a dressing which I do like on green things to disguise the cabbagy taste.
How would you describe your own style?
I would describe my style as ‘whatever I damn well want to wear’. Most of the time it’s pyjamas (you know working from home and all that). Recently I have got more into wearing vintage clothing as on average no one else has the same dress/top/outfit. It’s nice to walk into a room and no one else has the same outfit. But saying that there is always a time and place for repro brands and well selected high street items. Mostly I choose things because they make me feel good in them and I like them.
Who is your style icon?
Photo by Iberian Black Arts
Hmmm style icon is a difficult one as I don’t necessarily look to others to seek approval. I choose my clothing on whether something is pretty or not. I would say probably more people from the past. Ginger Rogers looked stunning right up to her latter years. I may or may not have liked her outfit choices, but she always looked well groomed and lived up to her glamorous movie star persona. As an older lady she still made the effort to look nice. Same with Dita, some outfit choices I may not personally like, but she always looks well put together and you know she hasn’t just thrown on anything, thought and preparation has gone into her outfit choices.
Where do you love to shop?
I’m a great internet shopper. Etsy in particular for vintage items. It’s all about ease for me. I hate fighting through people in shops only to find they don’t have my size. Most shops chuck everything at the displays and hangers, the more the merrier (M&S is particularly guilty of this). On the internet I can target what I am looking for specifically and cut out a lot of the rubbish I don’t want. Basically I shop where I am most. So this includes the internet and the supermarket haha. I have been known to buy a few basics from Sainsbury’s or M&S. If you make it easy for me, I will buy from you.
Who do you turn to for inspiration, both business and style?
Well I think it’s probably fairly obvious that I look to old films for inspiration. From an age where women were celebrated for being feminine and women’s figures were flaunted (in a classy way!) not covered up as something to be ashamed of. People of particular note? Of course Ginger Rogers who was probably my first style icon, Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Becall, Betty Grable, the list could go one.
Who would you love to have as a customer?
Anyone, I’m not fussy. Beggars can’t be choosers! I think my ideal customer is the one who e-mails me after they have bought something to thank me for adding some glamour into their lives. The kind of woman who may have hidden behind layers of greige to blend into the background, who is transformed into a femme fatale who loves their new found god like status. The plain Jane who is transformed into Jane Russell!
So what can we expect to come from you next?More of the same really. Bringing out must have items to make women look and feel fabulous at home. Oh and more world domination! I want to get into boutiques and department stores worldwide so my message of being glam at home is spread far and wide. So start begging your local shops to stock me!!!
Photo by Iberian Black Arts
Holly Snaith (Facebook): You seem to be really committed to running Betty Blue's as a successful business, rather than just 'for love'. What tips have you picked up along the way?
In the words of Dorey the fish (Finding Nemo), ‘Just keep swimming’. The moment I start obsessing over money and where it’s coming from my passion dies a little inside. Yes times are tough and are going to be for a long long time. But I am in this for the long run. I’m not in it to make a fast buck otherwise I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. When things are a little dodgy financially, I remind myself I am a glamorous luxury lounge wear company producing high glam, high quality and beautiful lounging garments. I don’t dwell on the past and any mistakes, I just keep going onwards and upwards. In other words, just keep swimming!Jennifer Sheffield (Facebook): Any thoughts about getting into swimwear or other items? Hmmm I’d never thought about swimwear no. I guess I could in the future. But honestly there are others out there doing it and doing it well. I've said it in the past about lingerie, there is no point me trying to compete with established brands. Many of whom I admire greatly or have even worked for. I want to be different not the same as everyone else. I am however working on an area no one else has cornered, but I can’t tell you what it is just yet because you may steal my ideas ;).
Jennifer Sheffield (Facebook): As a young business woman what advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Just do it. Before I started my business I made a thousand excuses not to do it. Once I had re assigned my energy into actually doing it, it is amazing how quickly you can build things. Don’t waste time on the ‘what ifs’. If they happen, they happen and you will get over it.
Jennifer Sheffield (Facebook): What are the best and worst things about running your own business?The best is being the boss! I have to admit I think I may have let the power get to my head but it’s SO much fun!!! The most exciting thing was when I had a letter come through to “Head Office” haha, do they know I work from a spare room at my parents house?!?!
The worst thing is being poor. At 25 it is quite demeaning to be totally dependent on my parents. I would love to support myself and contribute to the family and stand on my own two feet; but that is the sacrifice I have had to make in order to run my own business. And hopefully one day it will all pay off when I can afford to fly my family 1st class to the Seychelles or somewhere exotic like that and stay in an exclusive resort without counting every last penny................One day *daydreams*....
Jennifer Sheffield (Facebook): If you could have any celebrity dead or alive model your range who would it be?
Hmmmm difficult one, so many people to choose from. Business hat on, Marilyn Monroe, as she looks good in anything and would add ££££ value to my business. From a pride point of view, any A-Lister as you know you've made it when Angelina Jolie or Christina Hendricks knows who you are. From a personal point of view, probably Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell or Ginger Rogers as I love their films and they are the reason I am doing what I’m doing. They are strong kick ass women who are totally glorious and feminine in all that they do.
So whether you’re looking to revamp your night time
wardrobe, feel more glamorous around the home, spice things up with your fella,
do a sexy photo shoot, or lay in front of the TV eating chocolate, do it
Photo by Iberian Black Arts
Take a look at Betty’s beautiful creations in her online shop! http://www.bettybluesloungerie.com/
You can also catch up with Betty’s blog at http://bettybluesloungerie.blogspot.co.uk/
Photos by Tigz Rice Studios