When you combine a love of the stage with a love of lingerie and jewellery, there’s only one possible outcome: Rosie von Boschan.
Founder and Designer Rosie McLean answers the questions.
BRIAN GRAY: So let’s start from the beginning, by talking about yours, so to speak. What was your motivation for starting your business and when did it start trading? Had you worked or trained in the industry beforehand?
ROSIE McLEAN: I always told people that I’d move to London after my degree in English Literature and begin a career in journalism. When I actually moved to London I found myself working in various lingerie and costume boutiques and pole dancing on the side, for fun at first, and later as a stripper. Through this world I met many wonderful, inspiring women, from whom I learnt a great deal. Later some of us got together and formed the East London Strippers Collective -> www.ethicalstripper.com.
I’ve always made things, and have had a keen interest in costume and lingerie for as long as I can remember. I suppose this crystallised around this time into the intention to make lingerie and costumes which were beautiful to wear, and also to remove.
My various boutique employers (Bordello London, Prangsta Costumiers and Atsuko Kudo) have all inspired me hugely. I became absorbed by the aesthetic of the antique showgirl and learnt much of my current skillset from the incredible makers at Prangsta Costumiers. I still work for Atsuko Kudo, and continue to be inspired by the elegance of her design work.
I launched my business just over 2 years ago now with a catwalk show at the Art of Stripping festival, organised by my sisters at the East London Strippers Collective.
Anyone visiting your website or your Etsy shop will immediately notice the level of detail and can only imagine the amount of work that has gone into every item. What products are most popular?
The Etsy shop and ready-to-wear are very new! Nearly all my sales to date have been bespoke commissions. Headpieces, full lingerie sets, body jewellery… all sorts. Certainly the most attention grabbing are the Sadalsuud and Nashira playsuits from Constellar which are entirely hand-beaded and take about two and a half weeks each to make.
People also seem to love the decadent headpieces, particularly the Celeste and Eden which both have built-in music boxes. Eden goes even further, featuring an automaton birdcage with a wind up hopping bird!
The items you sell – such as those in the Constellar range – are bona fide head turners. For women wearing them, it’s not so much the case of putting on some lingerie as making a very deliberate statement. What do you think that statement is? What is your brand’s DNA?
Years ago I read a story about a witch who crafted herself a necklace which cast an intoxicating love spell on anyone who glimpsed it beneath her cloak.
I haven’t cracked it yet, but I’m working on it.
Who is the typical Rosie von Boschan customer, and what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
Customers buying for themselves tend to be extroverts in some aspect or other. I also get a lot of people wanting bespoke pieces to surprise a special person in their life.
Enigmatic, lustrous, exquisite.
A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
Entrance: both in the sense of ‘entrancing’ someone, and ‘making an entrance’.
You’ve recently exhibited at Le Boutique Bazaar. Tell readers a bit more about this event, who it appeals to and your own thoughts and experiences of it. How important are events like this for brands like yours?
It was the first time I have done a market, and it was wonderful. It was great to meet customers in person, find out about them and why they liked certain pieces. Social media is important in marketing, but it’s not a substitute for meeting people in the flesh.
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?
Planning and timing are incredibly important.
If you could get another erotic or adult brand to join forces with you for an event, joint marketing initiative or other collaboration, who would it be and why?
I’d be really interested to work with Fleet Ilya because our materials and aesthetic are so radically different. They also present themselves as a brand for whom craft and quality are important, which is something I respect in any brand, and stand by in my own work.
Time is our most precious commodity, especially for entrepreneurs. How do you maximise yours, and what tips have you picked up along the way?
Like a lot of creatives I’m not a naturally organised person and I have had to work really hard to revolutionise how I see and use my time.
I still have to force myself to put my business head on for uncreative tasks, but I am much better at this than I have been.
Scheduling small achievable deadlines throughout the day tends to help me to keep focus.
Being disciplined about self-care, and relaxation time are really important. My boyfriend pulled me up on this last night in fact, because I let myself slip into working crazy hours over the last few weeks and was fast approaching burnout which is no fun at all.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given or read somewhere, and from whom?
Some things people I admire have told me:
It’s not hard work, but working hard at the right things that counts.
Don’t forget to dream.
Look after relationships first.
Also I would recommend the 7 Habits by Stephen R Covey to anyone.
What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
I’m still working on fleshing out my Etsy shop with a suitable ready to wear product range, and considering if/ how I can better represent bespoke work on a website like Etsy. It’s a great place for people to come across you, so I’m refining how I can put more of what I do onto that platform.
And what do the next twelve months hold in store for Rosie von Boschan?
The Valentines Ball catwalk show at TG on 10th Feb. There are some other very exciting things on the horizon for later in the year but I can’t talk about them publicly quite yet, sorry!
Thanks Rosie, and here’s hoping you keep on making fashion statements in your own inimitable style!
If you’re wanting to make your own unique impression with Rosie’s wares, head to the Rosie von Boschan website now. And if you want to socially feast your eyes on Rosie’s latest creations, follow her on Instagram too.
ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!
Until next time!