DAZEY LA X SOLSTICE INTIMATES
I could not be more excited to announce our new collab piece with Solstice Intimates! I have been following their journey on social media since the beginning and have always been inspired by their amazing products and boss babe behind the brand, Natalie! She began Solstice just a few years ago sewing everything by hand and now it has quickly become a huge success.
For our collab we wanted to incorporate the feel of both of our brands into one magical piece. With her gorgeous handmade silhouettes mixed with my hand-drawn graphics we knew it was going to be special. After some back and forth we decided to go with a mod pop-art look to match the bold spirit of the Solstice girl and playful feel of Dazey. The bodysuit is made from a soft beatable cotton with bright screen printed design. Wear it solo or with pants or a skirt! However you wear it we know you won't want to take it off ;)
Solstice began with unique silhouettes and 70s styles sewn all in velvet. They looked different than any other lingerie I had seen before. Very playful, fun, and looked more comfortable and durable than your usual slinky silk underpinnings. I saw them as being more made for the wearer's benefit than anyone else. They are empowering and all about self expression. With amazing marketing, social media presence, and the support of their fans, the brand expanded. They now carry many more styles including amazing swimwear and dresses!
It only seemed right to include a Dazey Lady feature on Natalie along with the launch! Read below as she talks about humble beginnings, her inspiration, and how she's managing to scale her business! PS Natalie is the red head babe you see scattered in between our lookbook photos :)
Model 1st look: Reid Cox
Photog 1st look: @danidazey
Model 2nd look: @uhclarice
Photog 2nd look: Joseph Maddon
Solstice has got to be the coolest and fastest growing lingerie brands! How long have you been in business?
Thanks girl! We have been going at it just under two years. Solstice came about from my own personal love of beautiful underpinnings. I started just making for myself what I could not find in other shops. When I first started it was just the basics: bodysuit, bra, underwear, all in velvet only. I quickly realized that they were being worn as outerwear. I remember the first time I saw a woman wearing one of the bodysuits with jeans, like just as her shirt and at first I was confused. Then I realized I needed to step my game up if these pieces were the actual outfit and not just hiding under the outfits. From there I started adding more panels, colors, textures, etc.
What did you do before Solstice? Did you get any degree in the art or fashion world?
Yes, I did get a degree in Fashion Design from FIDM in Los Angeles. I started a business with two other friends from school when we were all 18/19 and quickly learned I was in over my head. I didn’t know enough about the business side of things. I also missed my family in Arizona so I moved home about a year after finishing college. I planned to stay in fashion and was working to get an internship while working full time with MAC makeup and making a few wedding dresses on the side. I met my now husband, got married, and had our first baby. I was working lots of hours, and hours I did not want to be working so much with a family so I went back to school, got a job as a finance manager, and got my masters degree in business finance. The plan was to use my degrees to start my own business but I got really comfortable for about 10 years in my 9-5 desk job. I started making kids clothes as a creative outlet while I worked my normal job but it was not something that I felt could support my family doing full time. I put the kids clothes on hold and focused on my career in finance. I started making bras for myself, then my friends, and when others started showing interest I launched a site thinking I would have a few nice friends that bought some stuff and the site blew up the first day. I tried to get orders filled at night after work and when my babies slept but within two months I had to make the choice to quit my job or quit Solstice. Solstice won and I have not looked back since.
What did you set out to create when you started? What makes Solstice different than other brands?
I am a no fuss jeans and tee kind of girl in terms of my outerwear but I have always liked to get a little more fancy with my underwear. The issue was always that I still wanted to feel comfortable. Underwire and constrictive fabrics make me nuts. I started making pieces for myself that made me feel pretty but still comfortable in my skin. I can't stand taking my bra off and having all those indents and red stab marks everywhere that I am sure any woman can relate to at some point in life. I try to find a balance between intricate beautiful designs but they still have to feel good on my skin and look beautiful peeking out of a low cut tee.
So each piece is handmade. Did you began sewing each piece yourself? Tell us a little about your growth process as your are scaling.
Balancing business growth and sticking to my handmade roots has been a learning process that I am still getting a grasp on. To this day I still myself sew at least 10 hours a day. Every piece that is shipped I still touch. Last year it was just me, alone in my kitchen sewing like a mad woman. Within about six months of starting I realized it was at a point where it was impossible for me to do it alone. I had a very hard time with that concept but people were already waiting six weeks for orders and I knew that any longer than that and folks would lose interest. I know I wouldn't want to wait that long! So I put out an add for a seamstress and interviewed countless people and cried for weeks trying to find someone that I trusted with my baby. I finally found a woman, Kim is her name, and she had 25 years experience in manufacturing of swimwear. She is perfect and has taught me so much and helped me to improve my product along the way. She sews way faster than I do so she does most of the everyday pieces and I do the specialty and one of a kind pieces. We also have my husbands childhood friend, Dan who helped me with my kids brand and learned to sew knits so he sews with me most days as well. From the beginning I wanted to do swimwear but I have never sewn a swimsuit in my life. They are a whole other beast. I have a small batch manufacturer in Los Angeles that helps me with those, which is why they are ready to ship and not a 4-6 week wait situation. They have also been slowly incorporating some of my everyday designs into their process so hopefully we will be able to add to our ready to ship line as we progress with them. I will never stop sewing. We have built a clientele of women who have a hard time finding ready made pieces. We will always cater to those with the long or shorter torsos, mismatched top to bottom ratios, etc. In order to do that, we have to make the pieces to order just for them. Those are my people, the ones that have been there rooting me on since the beginning. I have rows of patterns special made with customers names on them that I will always adjust as their bodies change. We also just bought a rad workspace so I am now (just as of this week) out of my kitchen and the hope is to expand, hire more people to help sew, and get my wait time down.
What do you attribute to being the biggest factor in your insta-success?
My husband, Joseph Maddon, is an incredibly talented photographer. He did fashion photography before we started Solstice. We had built in models that are dear friends and he is able to create a culture for our brand based on his pictures. We always want Solstice to feel like a community that people want to be a part of and we are mindful of that and how we use social media. I also have a social media/marketing manger, Kat who also does customer service so many of our customers know her. She does fun stuff like read up on algorithms, media trends, and keeps our brand looking exciting. I never want my customers to feel like just another email so we keep things small, personable, and tight knit. Everyone involved in this venture is personally invested and we pour our hearts into this. The goal is for that to be evident in every garment that leaves our hands.
We obviously LOVE your aesthetic and 70s vibe. What’s your inspiration when designing?
My grandmother is a huge inspiration in my life. She taught me to sew when I was very young, about seven. She made my dresses for church and quickly taught me to make my own dresses for church. I wanted a new dress each Sunday so I had to quickly learn to hold my own. I cherish everything about this woman. She has hundreds of photo albums in her home documenting every life event raising her eight children and each of something like thirty of her grandchildren and great grandchildren now has dedicated photo books. The importance of these photo books for me is that growing up I studied them as if they were novels. My grandmother was and is the epitome of cool and her wardrobe in those photos will forever be burned into my mind as the ultimate style. She wore the most amazing outfits and looked like a total badass with a bunch of babies on her hip while wearing floral maxi dresses, her locks in a huge bun on top of her head, and cat eye glasses. I will forever be pushing myself to capture and recreate the image of what is “cool” that was instilled in me by Sandy.
Solstice uses a wonderfully diverse group of models and often posts photos of pubic hair and lady-nipps. Somewhat “radical" marketing we admire, but some people may find this shocking. Whats your thought process and intention behind this?
We do not have any sort of formula for who we choose to represent our brand. The models on our site are primarily dear friends that we knew prior to starting Solstice. We are always looking for new people to partner with but it has much more to do with how they move, how comfortable they are in front of a camera, and what they represent as a human. Our models are moms, artists, bloggers, dancers, athletes, advocates, students, scientists, explorers, and all around badasses. What makes a photo enticing is not how toned or tanned the subject is. It’s that coy little smirk. It’s the disheveled imperfection that makes that subject relatable. I will often choose a photo where maybe there are twisted straps or the actual product is represented less than perfect but the woman wearing it is flipping her hair in a way that exudes sex appeal. Those are the pictures I want to represent my brand. I’ve had friends stop by, soaking wet out of the shower, no makeup on and I begged them to get photos taken for the site before our coffee run. You know when you wake up in the morning and the person laying next to you just looks so perfectly natural and comfortable? That’s it, that’s the look.
You guys started out making very unique velvet pieces but have been expanding to things like swimwear and dresses. Whats on the horizon for your brand? In five years now where do you see Solstice?
My vision changes daily based on what is presented to me by our community and customers. Since we are handmade to order we can evolve at the drop of a hat. If something doesn't work out, we pull it and try again without having stacks of inventory to lose. We are currently focused heavily on inclusion. We created the unisex Billy Brief after we started getting emails about men wanting to join the party. We will continue to expand in that area. Right now we offer custom sizing but I want to have a standardized plus size range within a year. I don’t have experience in grading patterns for plus size but the folks that make our swimwear are working on grading patterns and creating samples for us. Until then I just take measurements and make each piece individually but I really want to be able to offer more in terms of sizing. Another avenue we are working on is a wider range of products for our transgender customers. We have some samples out for testing and are making some pattern revisions but this will be coming soon as well. As we get requests, I do my best to accommodate each person that I come across and if there is a need, we will offer it to the masses.
What's your biggest piece of advice to an aspiring entrepreneur in the fashion space?
The fashion industry is so fast paced and fickle. I have to just not even pay attention to what anyone else is doing and get all hung up on it. I do what feels right for me. I sometimes find myself checking out other brands and being like, “Crap, why didn't I think of that.” Learning to just sit back and trust myself has been a huge part of my personal and professional growth. I had to stop worrying about what anyone else was doing, if people would like what I was making, or if it would sell. I have had a few pieces not sell and had to get ahold of my self-doubt and just move on. In the end, I only have to answer to myself and know that I put my heart into each piece I create.
What does being a Dazey Lady mean to you?
I love that Dazey has the same ideals of culture and friendship. Above and beyond creating a brand, you are creating a community. I love that stuff. I love that when I purchase from a small business I am buying into the dreams of the creator.