It's been a while since I did a Q&A with anyone for the journal, so below is a conversation that I had with Mary Young, a lingerie designer based in Canada. I've followed her on Instagram for a long time now & I think we share a lot of aesthetic similarities, so it seemed perfect to get to know her a bit more. I love her sense of femininity & ease, & her bras are the softest things ever. Below are a few questions that she kindly answered for me:
Where are you from & what do you do everyday?
I’m from the small town, Arnprior, in Ontario near Ottawa but now call Toronto home. I am the CEO & designer behind my namesake lifestyle lingerie and loungewear clothing line, so my everyday is very different but it ranges from designing, marketing, building relationships with retailers and managing the ecomm site.
How receptive is the design community in Canada? It seems like there is a lot of cool stuff coming from there?
Canada’s design community has really evolved in the past 5 years, especially in Toronto. More now than ever designers from all different areas are coming together and collaborating on work which is inspiring more people to design. In terms of fashion, there’s a relaxed yet practical design approach seen in most garments. Lots of small to medium sized brands are really growing and gaining their share of the market which is super exciting to see!
How long have you been designing lingerie?
I’ve been designing lingerie for just over 2 years. It actually started as my thesis when I was studying Fashion Communications at Ryerson University in Toronto. After spending months studying and teaching myself to design and construct lingerie I feel in love with it and realized there was a need for more comfortable and minimal lingerie in the market.
Who is your ideal customer? Do you have one?
My ideal customer can honestly be found in every woman. She is passionate, whether it be about her job, her friends or family, she has energy for life. She works hard and plays hard, meaning her garments need to do the same for her. All of the pieces I design are meant to fit seamlessly into any wardrobe, allowing women to go from one place to another without have to change their full outfit.
What do you look to for inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is people watching and seeing the garments they’re wearing, and most importantly how they’re interacting with their garments. If a woman is wearing something that she’s constantly tugging at or fixing I know she’s not truly comfortable and I never want women to feel that way in my garments. I also love any visual stimulation, whether it be going to a coffee shop with a great interior or scrolling through tumblr. I’m mentally taking images of what I see so later I can combine them together to create something new.
What music, movies, books are you interested in lately?
I have to admit I’ve been listening to a ton of Frank Ocean lately, other than that my go to music is 90’s hip hop and r&b. When it comes to movies I don’t get to watch many – I don’t own a television and mostly watch tv series on Netflix. The last good movie I saw was Bleed For This, which was recently shown at TIFF. It’s a true story of the boxer Vinny Pazienza played by Miles Teller – a phenomenal actor, and his come back after breaking his neck. I’m a sucker for sports and any true story gets me every time. Reading wise I love a good book, so much that I’ll often stop my life to finish reading one in a day. I’m currently reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison in paperback and on my phone I’m reading You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero.
If you could own a piece of artwork, no matter the price tag, what would you pick?
I would love to have The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. I can’t put my finger on what it is that I love about this piece but it’s always been one of my favourites.
What are your feelings about social media? How has it helped/effected your business?
On a professional level I love social media, I wouldn’t be wear I am today without it. I’ve been able to connect with so many people, whether it be photographers, writers or other designers. It’s also a great way to get your brand out there and reach people all around the world, especially without a brick and mortar, social media is key in growing a business. On a personal level I can find it to be very overwhelming, trying to keep up and always have exciting and relevant content, but I think that can be said about lots of other areas in the industry. It definitely takes more time to manage and grow than most people think!
If you didn't do what you do everyday, what else would you want to do?
To be honest I haven’t really thought of what else I’d be doing on a serious level. I’ve always wanted to be in fashion and to be my own boss, I just never knew what that would look like exactly. I have toyed with the idea of being a nurse or a police officer, both very different from where I am now but I honestly could see myself doing either of those.
How do you find balance between designing & your personal life? (big question, I know...)
Balance is always a struggle. I find it comes in waves, there’s periods of time where I am social and am sleeping a reasonable amount and then all of the sudden I haven’t seen friends in weeks and sleep is a thing of the past. I’ve recently found that working out in the morning has helped me balance my life a lot. Making time in the afternoon or evening to workout is almost impossible so if I make it the first thing I do then the rest of my day continues to be productive. Other than that I’ve learnt to accept that balance comes and goes, and to not stress about it’s flow.