"Starting a business is ridiculously hard and takes a huge amount of dedication, late nights,weekends and many, many compromises."
Interview with Sophie Thorne, founder of Twisted Lingerie
Read how she overcame business challenges, her tips on making it, and how she delved into an industry she had a lot to learn about...
Twisted Lingerie, the home of deliciously provocative lingerie designed to unleash your carnal side, set pulses racing and bring delight to your knicker drawer. Our mission is to empower women to embrace their desires, and make every day that little bit naughtier.
1) Tell us how you came to become a business owner - what fuelled your idea?
Twisted was a several-years- in-the- making project. I'm an ex-Management Consultant with a love for lingerie who finally took the plunge and set up my own business.
I was very clear on the problem I was looking to solve: I could pick up a new dress
from Zara or Topshop for £30 but I wasn’t able to find well-made and well-priced
provocative lingerie – the kind made for after-dark frolicking rather than
functionality – to wear underneath it.
I felt that there was a clear gap in the intimates market between cheap-and- tacky and super high-end. Not many of my friends feel hugely comfortable spending £250 on a lingerie set but they don't necessarily want to settle for a bright pink push-up bra either. Twisted was born
out of a desire to build an accessibly-priced brand, without compromising on design or
production quality. I really believe that women shouldn’t have to wait for a special occasion
to treat themselves to beautiful lingerie (the same goes for wearing it, of course!) so I
wanted to give them a reason to make every day that little bit naughtier without breaking
2) What it was it like in the first week or two of starting your own business
Super scary and really difficult, but I genuinely loved every minute of it! Since my background isn’t in lingerie (or even in fashion), it was a steep learning curve and a lot of hard work to get from my initial idea to launch. The first couple of weeks involved ordering every “How to run a fashion business” book Amazon had on offer to competitor research at every lingerie shop within a 100-mile radius of my home, to business plan writing and brand development before moving onto pattern-making and god knows how many sample iterations, the hunt for a factory that not only met my quality standards but would also accept the tiny order quantities, pricing and distribution decisions, production, shipping and - eventually - launch. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!
3) How did you fund your business in the beginning?
Twisted is entirely self-funded so I worked 9-5 to raise the money I needed to launch; this meant getting up at 5am to do 3 hours of work in the morning before my day job and working every evening and over the weekends, plus all the usual life stuff which unfortunately doesn’t stop just because you’re trying to launch a business!
4) How did you get your first few clients (can you give readers tips on attaining new business)
Initially I harnassed my network - friends, friends of friends, ex-colleagues... Social media and
our blog now sits at the heart of Twisted's marketing strategy. It does take patience – building a following doesn’t happen overnight and they don't all convert into sales – but by genuinely interacting and engaging with my customers and the wider lingerie community, I have started to see organic growth.
5) Tips on how to make it past the 12 months mark - personal (not generic) business tips for others who want to succeed
There will be so many challenges – a never-ending stream of challenges – but you need to be
persistent, dedicated, optimistic and patient. There were many moments when I could have
just given up but I pushed myself because I really believed in what I was building. Starting a
business is ridiculously hard and takes a huge amount of dedication, late nights,
weekends and many, many compromises. I think if you’re not passionate about the business
you’re building, you’ll feel incredibly burdened by the work.
About Sophie Thorne: Sophie Thorne is the founder of Twisted Lingerie, the home of deliciously provocative lingerie designed to unleash your carnal side, set pulses racing and bring delight to your knicker drawer. Check us out – www.twistedlingerie.co.uk – and follow us on Twitter or Instagram @twistedlingerie.