A Start-Up Story: Soulevant is The Lingerie That Lifts

Linda Wallace-Blau, owner of SoulevantA few months ago, I met and started helping Linda Wallace-Blau, local mother and former art teacher, promote her new business Soulevant Lingerie. For years, she had lamented about the lack of lingerie made with the proper support, so one day she began a two-year journey to design and create her own line of supportive lingerie. She is a wonderful example of someone who identified a problem and found her own solution – turning it into a business and dream. Her line of lingerie is called “The Lingerie That Lifts” because of the unique built-in bra that is more supportive than a shelf bra, but made without restrictive underwire. As a mom to four, I know how difficult it is to find attractive nightgowns with enough support, so I truly appreciate this concept. Please read my interview with Linda and learn more about her start-up story.

Question: What is your business and how long have you been in business?

My business is Soulevant – the Lingerie that Lifts. It is a new women’s lingerie line for women of all sizes that you can only buy online at http://www.Soulevant.com. I officially launched the business at the end of October 2013, but have worked on it for more than two years. I had never done anything like this before, so I learned as I went. My passion and background is in art and design, so learning the other side of the business, like manufacturing, negotiating contracts, developing a website and launching a business was a completely new adventure.

new_kaleidoscope_pink_bathrobe_and_chemise_adjustedQuestion: What made you decide to start your own business? What was your inspiration?

I love to wear pretty lingerie and loungewear around the house, but as time passed I needed some bust support to look the way I wanted.  The last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was to have to put on a bra just to wear my nightgown!  So I started looking for nightgowns and other lingerie that already had built-in support, and to my great surprise there was nothing to be found. Oh, there were a few products I tried that claimed to offer support, but they only had a shelf bra that was totally inadequate for most women.  So, after growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of options, I decided to start my own lingerie line to fill this need. I designed a line of nightgowns, chemises and matching robes.

Question: What were you doing before starting this venture? How long did you have the idea to start your own business before actually taking the leap?

I am a retired art teacher, and mother of two grown sons. Although I had been unhappy with the lack of lingerie with built-in support for quite some time, it was about two years ago that I seriously started thinking about going into business myself – with the encouragement of my husband who was tired of hearing me complain.

Fuchsia_NightgownQuestion: What was your biggest hurdle/struggle to overcome when first starting?

The garment industry is a very tough industry.  Finding vendors who will take you seriously and work with you before you have established yourself is difficult.  A lot of people in this business aren’t interested in working with start-up companies.  It was always my goal to have my products made in the U.S.A., but I was surprised to learn that many of the remaining garment factories in this country (and yes, there are some) wouldn’t take me seriously, even as a potential source of new business for them. I had to meet with several different factories before I found one that took pride in their products and was willing to walk me through the steps of the process that were new to me.

Question: What is your best advice to someone thinking of starting a business?

Take the time to do your research, make as many connections as possible, and make sure that you really understand the market that you are getting into.  You also have to be extremely resilient, because a lot of people will tell you “no,” and a lot of the decisions you make at first will turn out to be wrong.  But remember, you learn from your mistakes!

Question: What does the future for your business look like? How do you measure success?

I like to think that the future of Soulevant will be bright.  Women want to feel good about themselves and the way they look, and we can’t allow ourselves to be trapped in the sweatshirts and sweatpants of the ’90s.  We can be comfortable and still look feminine, attractive and stylish.  I feel successful when women try on my products and are pleasantly surprised by how it combines comfort, support, and style like no other nightgown they have tried before. I named the business Soulevant, which is French for “lifting up,” because this is my goal – to lift women up literally and spiritually.

Question: How can people connect with Soulevant?

Visit my website: Soulevant.com

Like my Facebook Page: Facebook.com/Soulevant

Follow me on Twitter: @Soulevant

soulevant lingerie logo

 

*Disclaimer: I was not paid for specifically writing this post, but I have been paid by Soulevant to help with their Social Media marketing. I elected to write this post because I believe in the product and the company.

About 

Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger and business owner who lives in the suburbs outside Washington, DC with her husband and four children. She started her career as a journalist and copy editor. She also managed public relations and corporate communications for a national franchise company, but in 2006 started a child care business. In 2012, she launched Tiny Steps Mommy, a lifestyle and parenting blog that quickly gained a following and connected her to an expansive group of women-owned businesses. In 2013, she started a digital marketing consulting business that focused on growing community in an authentic way. Through those connections she was inspired to open Play, Work or Dash, a coworking space that also offers onsite childcare up to three hours per day. It is where like-minded professionals pursue their business goals with the extra level of support parents desire; a place where you "bring your kids to work." She is an active member of the Washington, DC blogger community. She has been published on The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode and Pop Sugar.

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  1. A huge congratulations to Linda for sticking to her dream and making it a reality! Many of use get stuck in our tracks when we hear someone say no. A lot to be learned from her! And what a great business idea and product!