Take one recent De Montfort Contour Fashion graduate, a love of latex and a new brand born just a few months ago. And mix thoroughly. The result? Elysian Latex.
Founder / Designer Jessie Maeday talks candidly about her latex creations, marketing and her first entrepreneurial steps.
BRIAN GRAY: So let’s get started. Has Elysian Latex been around while you were studying or is this a brand new enterprise launched recently?
JESSIE MAEDAY: Since I started my degree I knew that I wanted to end up being my own boss, and I have always had that in the back of my mind throughout the last three years. It hasn’t really been until the last six months or so that I started to build the brand into something that was ready to go once I graduated.
What other possible names did you consider and why did you settle on Elysian Latex?
Oh so many! I’ve lost count of how many hours have been spent with friends and a glass of wine scrolling through the internet trying to come up with something. I started to play around with names on Instagram to test-drive them, seeing how the name worked with the content I was posting.
Elysian Latex came about once I started on my final collection, as I wanted something that reflected the brand aesthetic. The definition of Elysian is ‘characteristics of heaven or paradise’, and this feminine undertone is certainly reflected in the work I produce.
And what do you see as the brand vision and brand essence of Elysian Latex?
The brand vision is simple; Elysian Latex challenges what people think they know about latex as a fashion fabric. The idea that latex is a fetish only material has become a bit boring, and I want to fight that by bringing it into 2017. I see latex as any other luxury material, and by incorporating fabric manipulation as well as my exclusive lace laser cutting, I can create garments that are fashion forward, but also have that ever-so- flattering effect of latex when worn.
What defines your typical Elysian Latex customer, and what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
I’d like to think that the average customer is… well anyone! I’ve been approached by customers who are literally the definition of English rose, pale skin, red hair with breath-taking beauty, all the way to heavily tattooed, fetish models and sex workers. If I were to break the brand down into three words, it would be: Flirty, Feminine, and Fearless. I want my customers to feel like they can take on the world, and look damn good while doing it!
The UK is home to more than a few highly renowned latex fetish / lingerie designers. What do you think differentiates yourself from them?
I think the fact that my garments come from a mostly fashion background helps to separate myself from the competition, as well as all the technical skills I have learnt studying Contour Fashion. I work super hard creating garments that are not just pretty but designed with proper knowledge of bra construction and how to get the perfect fit.
A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
I work so passionately on every glued seam, fabric piece cut and eyelet pressed so that every item is made with love and care.
Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
Oh gosh, I am truly terrible at marketing! I have a little piece of the internet via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter which I try to keep updated regularly with current work, events and inspiration and they are all growing at what I’d consider to be a respectable pace. Branching out to different parts of the work is difficult and most of my followers are UK based, which is good for now as the brand is still in its early stages. I also have an Etsy page where I sell my work, but this desperately needs to be moved onto my own website so I can really show off what Elysian Latex is all about!
If you could get another adult brand (whether lingerie, sex toys, fetishwear, pleasure products, BDSM equipment or other) involved in a joint marketing campaign or event with yourself, who would it be and why?
I would absolutely LOVE to work with fetish/ burlesque club night! Those events look like so much fun and having a catwalk show, as well as people just having a great evening in my garments is a personal dream.
The Contour Fashion degree at De Montfort University is long established and renowned within the lingerie and fashion industries alike. How well do you think it’s prepared you for the next stage in your career, both as a designer and as a businesswoman?
The course has given me so much more than I could have ever imagined. Studying Contour was the best, most stressful and most rewarding decision I ever made (even though it sometimes didn’t feel like it at 5am when I was frantically sewing/ drawing or crying into a bottle of wine before deadlines)
The tutors are so incredible at noticing what makes you an individual and how to bring that into your design work. Without really realising it I have grown into a designer, seamstress, pattern drafter and technical designer, and those skills are essential to having a successful fashion career. I do still have so much to learn when it comes to running my business but Contour was definitely successful in getting me on the right path.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given or read somewhere, and from who?
It’s a bit ironic as the company has recently closed, but reading Girl Boss (the creator of vintage brand Nasty Gal) has taught me so many simple things that I never would have considered. One that has stuck with me is how to approach garments not selling. I am guilty of taking items not selling personally so I can either feel defeated or that the item is rubbish as no-body wants to buy it. Or I can treat selling this item as a work in progress and re-evaluate how I am advertising, photographing, describing it and try again.
And sort out your finances. Obviously.
Time is our most precious commodity, especially for entrepreneurs. How do you maximise yours, and what tips have you picked up along the way?
I work pretty much full time as well as working on my own brand so my time is very scattered at the moment. I try to spend at least an hour a day networking and replying to emails, and I try to make items that aren’t being sold on my Etsy page that could be available to hire for models etc as a form of promotion.
The biggest tip I’ve got would be to definitely have a cut off point in the day where work stops so you don’t damage your life outside of work. There is nothing more irritating that being out at dinner and having the company you are with ‘just need to quickly reply to this email’.
And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Elysian Latex?
Exciting things hopefully! I am currently in talks/ setting up meetings with a few brands and entertainment events to collaborate with in the near future, which is both the most terrifying and exhilarating experience. Elysian Latex has only officially been around for less than two months now and it’s already been a pretty crazy ride, I’m so excited for the future and whatever opportunities it brings!
Thanks, Jessie! And the very best of luck in your entrepreneurial endeavours!
If you fancy getting in a latex lather over Jessie’s well designed delights head over to the Elysian Latex Etsy store and tweet to Elysian Latex or see Elysian Latex on Instagram and nod most approvingly!
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Until next time!
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