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Friday, April 18, 2014 California Dreaming: A Visit To For Love & Lemons HQ

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We’ve been huge fans of For Love & Lemons for quite some time now, but when they launched their lingerie line Skivvies last fall, we officially needed to get to know the faces behind one of our favorite LA brands. As it turns out, founders Gillian Mahin and Laura Hall are in a super chill space Downtown (near us!), so we asked them if we could stop by to check out their digs, and take a peek at their spring Skivvies collection IRL. They very (very!) nicely obliged, and their lingerie designer Keenan Evans even chimed in to tell us how much work actually goes into building a bra. (Spoiler alert: It’s a lot.)

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Tell us about this amazing space!

Gillian: This space is where we design, and as you can see, we have girls making patterns and samples. We do the whole design process here. Laura does most of the business, I do most of the design, and Keenan does the Skivvies. This is basically where all the magic happens. We wanted to focus on doing everything in-house: the draping, making the patterns and fitting samples. Before we sent everything out so we would see it in two weeks.

Laura: We wanted to keep the lingerie a little more hands-on—a little more control over it.

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So, how did you two meet?

Laura: I moved to Wyoming from Minnesota when I was 11 or 12, and I sat next to Gillian in Mr. Miller’s class, and ever since then we were connected at the hip. Keenan lived in Jackson before so we all grew up together.

Gillian: And if you’re not familiar with Jackson, it’s a small ski town in Wyoming…

Laura: …right on the edge of Yellowstone. It’s really beautiful.

Gillian: It has a lot of Western influence. So, we started there, and we used to have lemonade stands, which is where our name comes from. We like to say we’ve been in business since the lemonade stands. We went to Australia after college.

Laura: She went to FIDM, and I went to University of Colorado in Boulder, and we graduated a little early, and we wanted to do something fun for our last semester while everybody else is still in school. So, we decided to move to Australia, and I worked for One Teaspoon.

Gillian: I worked for Bec & Bridge. We got hands-on experience with how to start your own company, basically. We saw all the steps. After we left there, we said, “Let’s try it!”

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Laura: So, we went back to Wyoming in 2008 and spent a winter waiting tables and late at night, we’d sew our first collection.

Gillian: I taught Laura how to sew.

Laura: Yeah, she taught me how to sew! We did a whole collection, and then we had our first fashion show at a bar right at the bottom of a ski hill with dudes in ski boots and girls in bikinis, pretty much.

Gillian: It was so funny. Everyone came. But we got really inspired, and we wanted to get out of Jackson and do our own thing, so we decided to just start selling our own collection. Somehow the photos leaked online, and someone reached out to us and said they wanted to carry our clothes. We didn’t think about that yet, so we weren’t ready for that, but we thought that was awesome, and it gave us motivation to take control more of what we were doing and turn it into a real business. We moved to San Diego, and we thought that would be a good place because we wanted to take the business more seriously, so we ran it from there for a little while, and we’d drive up to LA all the time and stay in hotel rooms because we didn’t realize how much we needed to be up here. Eventually we got a space—it was a really small space at first. And then things kind of took off.

Laura: We were driving back and forth 2, 3, 4 times a week, so we just had to move. Once we moved, we were full-force with it.

Gillian: We were living together and working out of the same space, and it was a lot of being around each other. [laughs] It was crazy, but we never fight ever. We’re pretty easy-going people.

Laura: We’re lucky. We’re really lucky.

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Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?

Gillian: The best advice I can give is just to stick to it—stay with your passion and work really hard. It’s really, really hard.

Laura: Also, there will be a lot of people telling you to do this or that, and you just have to stick to what you believe in.

Gillian: People told us that For Love & Lemons was the worst name ever and that it was too long, but we just stuck to it. It’s worked so far. Work really hard, stick it out, and remember why you’re doing it. That’ll get you through the hard times.

Laura: There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Gillian: But also, interning with other designers is really important because you never really know what you’re getting yourself into. You can’t just jump into a business like this and think it’s all going to be glitz and glamour. It’s really not. It’s a lot of running around in jeans and grubby clothes and going to factories and picking out fabrics. Interning is key, for sure.

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How would you describe the For Love & Lemons girl?

Gillian: She’s a cool girl that doesn’t look like she’s trying too hard. She’s a lot of girls: she’s a party girl, she’s an artsy girl, she’s a nerdy girl sometimes, but she’s always sexy. Always standing out from everybody else.

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Tell us about your latest Skivvies collection!

Laura: There’s something for everyone in the Skivvies collection. There’s something for the girl that wants to be a little more revealing, and there’s also some pretty easy pieces that could go on anybody.

Gillian: The Skivvies collection was created to go with our clothes. Most of our clothes are either see-through or low-cut or have an open back, and I have to wear a bra, so I’m like, “What am I supposed to wear with these things?” So, we created things that you can pair with all the clothes.

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What’s the inspiration for the spring collection? How is it different from your fall line?

Laura: We brought in a lot more color.

Gillian: Yeah, lots of pastel and fluorescent colors.

Keenan: We did a lot of new and interesting closures. We did a lot of front closures and a lot of ‘90s-inspired pieces. We’re also sourcing a lot better materials.

Gillian: The first time around, we were just like, “We want to do this!” and we worked so long on it because we’d never done lingerie before, and it’s really hard.

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Why is lingerie so much more challenging?

Gillian: You have to use a certain kind of elastic threads, and you have to do certain kind of seams—just the way it fits to your body and making sure it pulls over and doesn’t snap. All the little details are so much more complicated than clothes. Clothes are a few seams for the most part, but for lingerie, you have to make sure that it’s going to last awhile, and that it’s going to hold you in and lift you up and make you look good.

Keenan: That’s one thing I really love about our Skivvies collection, the pieces I have, I feel like they are going to last me for a long time, like a swimsuit does.

Laura: This bodysuit I’m wearing from our collection, I love it. It can go with anything, and it’s so comfy.

Keenan: We mixed a lot of fabrics this season, which we think a lot of customers will be attracted to—like the mixture of embroidery and Lycra and different trims make it special. And even though we have some tiny straps this season, they are still super supportive and strong, so girls with bigger boobs can also wear them comfortably.

Gillian: Yeah, a lot of girls comment on our Instagram and say, “Well, I have huge boobs. I don’t think I could ever wear this,” and Keenan and I both have ginormous boobs, so we make sure that we’re able to wear that stuff. [laughs]

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What’s missing from the current lingerie landscape that you wanted to bring into it?

Gillian: I felt like there wasn’t enough lingerie that you could wear that’s supposed to be seen.

Laura: Like sexy and providing coverage at the same time.

Gillian: I think there was definitely a hole in the market for it.

Laura: I mean, there’s a lot that doesn’t cover anything, but… [laughs]

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And you also make robes too! Love those.

Gillian: It’s just one of those things you can wear at home and just feel really hot. [laughs]

Laura: We also did these aprons, which are really fun and playful. Just something a little different that you don’t typically see in a lingerie line. Cook for your boy in some sexy lingerie. [laughs]

Gillian: They’ll be lucky for sure. [laughs]

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What’s the inspiration for your lookbook?

Gillian: The photographer is Henrik Purienne and the model is Anastasia Krivosheeva. This season we just wanted to show a girl everyone could relate to—hanging out at home wearing her vintage clothes mixed with her For Love & Lemons clothes, just how we picture ourselves in the morning when we wake up walking to get a coffee in the kitchen wearing our Skivvies.

Laura: We wanted to keep it super raw and natural, and Henrik shoots all on film.

Gillian: In a way, it’s like her boyfriend is taking these photos of her. We wanted to make it feel really personal.

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How would describe your personal style?

Gillian: That’s really hard for me because I always want to dress a certain way, but end up wearing the same thing every day. I’m black and white. Very simple. Very sleek. I love New York style—jeans, platform shoes, and a sheer top with Skivvies underneath it.

Laura: I’m definitely a jeans and T-shirt kind of girl. I think out of all three of us, I’m the most casual dresser.

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Who are some of your style icons?

Keenan: I love French Vogue. Emmanuelle Alt is always wearing amazing tonal, monochromatic outfits with fur. I wish I had those pieces.

Gillian: I know everyone says this, but I love Kate Moss. I just love that supermodel street style. They always just look so chic but effortless. I think that’s a lot of our inspiration too. They always have all these amazing designer pieces, and they just throw them all together. They make it work.

Laura: I don’t have one specific person, but I think just street style in general.

Gillian: Not Jessica Simpson, Laura? [laughs]

Laura: That was in my teen years!

Gillian: Laura used to love Jessica Simpson when we were in middle school.

Laura: Oh my gosh, don’t embarrass me. That’s when she came out with the reality show. She was cool then. [laughs]

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(Photos by Felisha Tolentino)

Culture Shock > California Dreaming > A Visit To For Love & Lemons HQ

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  1. Kent bonham

    I Love You!

    April 20, 2014 at 2:12 pm