Olly is a brand of organic underwear for women that proves that eco-friendly can also be beautiful. The eco-responsible panties are created in Paris, with European fabrics and manufacturing, using GOTS certified organic cotton. The co-founders launched a crowdfunding campaign that has succeeded all expectations. Because green is the new black and, these panties, a Christmas favourite!
We interview Clémentine and Mathilde, the co-founders of this brand of organic underwear that started before they even finished their studies! They found the need for beautiful panties that were sustainable. Olly lingerie comes to stay, so find the inspiration and enjoy the readings!
What are your professional backgrounds and what made you start a GOTS certified organic cotton lingerie brand?
We are two co-founders at Olly: Clémentine and Mathilde. We created Olly during our studies, so we were students before launching the brand, and we do not have a particular background in fashion. As customers, we searched for pretty and organic underwear in France and we were disappointed by what we found: there were very few brands, and the designs were too basic for us. So during an entrepreneurship class, we imagined together the perfect brand: beautiful and organic underwear!
What does your brand stand for in the world of slow fashion?
We stand for eco-friendly, healthy and beautiful underwear. We think that any woman deserves to feel beautiful in her lingerie and to wear undies that are not harmful to her health or the environment.
Why is it so important to use GOTS certified organic cotton, when it comes to our health and the sustainability of our planet?
GOTS certified organic cotton has got multiple benefits for the planet and for the people. It uses less water than conventional cotton, it does not use GMO or pesticides, it is not chlorine bleached, and the people who grow the cotton work in decent conditions.
How does the creation process look like?
We design the panties in Paris, with help from a stylist. For the fabrics, our factory purchases the organic cotton for us and we choose European laces from suppliers that we have met in professional shows. We send the technical files to our factory, which makes the first prototype and sends them to us. When the first prototype is satisfying, we ask for the size prototypes and we make fittings, and often we asked for some modifications. When the prototypes are all good, the factory confirms our order and 2 months later, the seamstresses cut the cotton and the laces and sew them into panties, which are finally sent to us in Paris.
Who is behind the scenes designing and making this beautiful lingerie?
We are two, with sometimes a bit of help from an intern, Clementine and Mathilde. We attended the same business school, ESCP Europe, and that is where we met. We are both very sensitive to ecology and interested in fashion. In Berlin, we attended the same entrepreneurship class, where we launch the idea of Olly. And back in Paris, we carried on and created the brand!
Do you work under fair trade standards? Any certification aside of the GOTS certified organic cotton you may have earned?
We do not work under fair trade standards, but we have chosen to work with suppliers that are located in UE, in order to reduce our carbon footprint and to be sure that the working conditions are framed by the European Union regulations. We work in Paris, our factory is located in Hungary, and the lace and tulle suppliers are from Italy, Germany, Austria or France. For the laces and tulle, we buy them from European companies only: our laces are made in Italy, our fancy elastics in Austria or Germany and our tulle in France or Italy. With these European fabrics, we are sure that the workers who make them are treated under the regulations of the EU and that the fabrics do not contain harmful substances banned by the EU.
What sort of clients do you have and how do they appreciate your products?
Our clients are mainly French women between 25 and 35 years old, but we have also women of all ages, and a surprising quantity of men: the Olly panties seem to be a common gift under the Christmas tree! We talk a lot to our customers, and they tell that they really appreciate the comfort and the softness of our products, and the sustainable commitment of the brand.
What makes Olly Lingerie different from other brands?
Olly is more than a brand, it is an adventure, lived every day by Clémentine and I. We are two young women, determined to propose a new style of lingerie and making almost everything by themselves. Moreover, Olly is very different from conventional lingerie brands as we use sustainable and healthy fabrics, and from sustainable lingerie brands for our feminine designs and natural brand image. For instance, we make all our photoshoots in the countryside in the South West of France, in the heart of nature, with friends as models.
What do events such as Fashion Revolution mean to a social entrepreneur like you?
Fashion Revolution and others events about sustainable fashion are major. As entrepreneurs, they allow us to meet other people who also work for a better fashion industry, and they show us that the public is more and more interested in fair fashion. They also help to raise awareness that fashion should change among people that are not yet convinced. The biggest change should come from customers, so having events and movements such as Fashion Revolution is really important for people to find information and know that alternatives to fast-fashion exist.
You are based in Germany (or France, we were unsure!), how does a social entrepreneurial venture look like there? Do you feel there’s a change happening in the country?
The project began in Berlin, but we are both French and based in France. A sustainable venture in France is an adventure, like any other entrepreneurial project, but we can feel a movement as there are more and more articles and events about sustainable fashion, even among big groups, and more and more beautiful sustainable ready-to-wear brands are launched.
What has been the greatest success of the brand so far?
Our greatest success has been our crowdfunding campaign: we made it to collect test the project and to collect funds for the production. It appeared very soon that we were not the only ones to look for feminine organic cotton underwear: we reached 100% of our objective in 1 week only, and 227% at the end of the campaign!
Is there any advice you’d like to give to other businesses trying to make a difference for good?
It’s not easy to find solutions for being sustainable in every aspect of a brand, so I would advise to launch yourself if you are really motivated by a good project and to think to find solutions. Nobody’s perfect, you will improve during the way, but the first step (and the hardest) is to begin!
If you could write a message on a big wall that the entire world could read, what would it say?
We only have one planet.
Finally, where can we find you? Shops, online, worldwide…?
You can find us online at olly-lingerie.com and in several shops in France, which are listed on our website.
And if you love ethically made underwear, but with some cool prints, we have more options for you! Check out Colieco Lingerie, handmade in Portugal in all sizes for ladies with loads of style!
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