Women Entrepreneurs: Lara Intimates

Made in London, Lara Intimates is all about sustainable fashion and empowering women (a combo that Jecca Blac is clearly enthusiastic to support). The lingerie company was founded by Faith Leeves and Cindy Liberman in 2016, after discovering the negative impacts the fashion industry has on the planet.

Lara Intimates is currently an all-women company. They make the underwear in London from reclaimed, luxury surplus fabric and make bra sizing so much easier than your high-street brands.

Cindy and Faith have kindly agreed to take part in our Women Entrepreneurs series to share their journey in the entrepreneurial business and what it’s really important to their brand. Here’s our little interview:

Did you have any knowledge of how to run a business before starting one? Being it from school, personal acquaintances or work.
We didn’t have any formal business training, but it was always an interest of mine. I worked for a couple of start-up companies before launching Lara Intimates in junior positions – so nothing quite as demanding as running my own company! Once we had the idea for Lara, the business planning, product development and marketing poured out naturally. Faith and I follow our instincts and bounce ideas off each other – I think that’s the key to our success so far.

When you decided to start your business, what was it that made you say ‘yes, the world needs this right now’? Especially as the entrepreneurship world can seem quite overwhelming and overwhelmed at the moment.
Sometimes I joke that everyone today has a start-up! Entrepreneurship is supersaturated. We had the idea for Lara Intimates while Faith and I were at the London College of Fashion. We couldn’t find any underwear brands that we wanted to work for. There was little innovation in design or sustainability and outsourcing to other countries created so much chaos, low product quality and unhappy customers. Lingerie manufacturing used to be one of the biggest employers of women in the UK and today it has nearly disappeared. The world needs a company like Lara Intimates: an underwear brand championing female empowerment, sustainability and quality, ethical manufacturing.

There’s obviously been a lot of talks lately around sexism in the workplace, gender pay gap and issues that generally affects women in business. What was the difference between the expectations you had and what you actually found as a woman creating her own business?
I’m a big supporter of equality in the workplace, but I’ve never experienced these challenges first hand. Maybe that makes me lucky or more confident in meetings with men or investors etc. Lara Intimates is currently an all-female team.

Do you feel the pressure to present in a certain way, or act in a certain way of being a woman in business?
I think my responsibilities are the same as any business person. Being a good leader to me means 3 things. 1. Creating a safe and happy work environment where my employees can thrive. 2. Listening to customers and delivering a high-quality product. 3. Being clear about my values and the company values and acting on these. I put a great deal of pressure on myself to be a good leader, but I just try to enjoy the ride and take each day as it comes.

Was it hard to get people invested in your vision and how did you go on about it (from actual investors to the people working around you, to your customers)?
We first pitched the idea for Lara Intimates at London College of Fashion, and there was a great reaction. From the beginning, we were surrounded by mentors and experts that were eager to help. I think this momentum helped us be confident about the idea throughout building it. We had customer interest from the beginning, and it wasn’t a huge challenge to gain their interest. There have been plenty of challenges along the way, but people have always supported our vision.

 

Thank you to Cindy and Faith — we hope their vision will help so many more women finding their way and strength in the entrepreneurial world.

To read about the other two women we covered in the Women Entrepreneur series, check our interviews with LaMazuna and Literary Emporium.