Back in early February, I attended the birthday party of one of my best friends, Michelle. At this party, I met a fabulous lady named Kori. We got to talking about this and that and she mentioned that she has an Etsy shop from which she sells ADORABLE upcycled underwear made from old t-shirts (which she appropriately named "Upitees"). I asked her if she would be interested in doing a giveaway on my blog and she happily agreed!
After reading more about Kori's background, I was really impressed by her philosophy and tremendous talent. Here is an interview I did with her to give you a better idea of what she's all about:
How did you come up with the name for your shop?
My best friend came up with it; orange is my favorite color and on a good day I speak fluent French. But it's super fitting in other ways as well. In French, la vie en rose is about looking at life through rose colored glasses and seeing this hyper-beautiful reality. I like to think that my company and its products are a little bit like that too, only brighter, a little bit sun-shine-ier. :)
What do you do on a regular basis to live by your manifesto?
Like anything, it's a work in progress. Right now, I'm really focusing on limiting my consumption- making do with what I have and buying second hand when possible. The Goodwill and the RE Store are strategically close to my home... :) I am also committed to shopping locally and independently- my husband and I live at the Ballard farmers market (I used to work on an organic farm myself), the Essential Baking Company, and I love Kick It Boots and Stompwear. I've only been in Seattle for a couple of years, so I'm still doing a lot of exploring and working to build community.
I also buy handmade to support other entrepreneurs and artists as a first resort- my wedding was just this summer and fellow Seattle Etsyians Bumbershoot Designs did my earrings, while Beautanicals did a chalk board for our guest book. So many other Etsyians helped make our day special- Amanda Archer did our sweet and flattering bridesmaids dresses, while Secret Safe Books did our groomsmen's gifts, Little Wee Shop did our ring bearer's “pillow” and Frame It by Jill did a picture frame we couldn't live without. It feels good to support other artists and artisans who are earning money doing what they love!
Because it feels further removed from the cycle of consumerism than other articles of clothing... I studied fashion in college and had trouble reconciling my art with the consumerism and environmental impact associated with it. I still sometimes feel overwhelmed by the impact of fashion – from trends (and therefore products) that last only three months, the environmental impact of discarding the same products, the bleaching and disposal of fabrics, to the dependence on cheap labor and unsustainable labor practices. But I still love how everyone uses it to express themselves, and I love how, in its highest form, it is fine art.
Lingerie is so beautiful and can be so empowering. It can be fine art. I wanted to find a way to still be empowering but honor my commitment to sustainability. Cotton undies feel like a necessity. Underwear made from tshirts lasts for a loooooong time, and I feel really good about that. It's also intimate- there's a lot of trust involved, and I really like the connections I've made and the conversations I've been having while exploring how undies fit or don't fit, and what the amazing different ladies in my life need.
Who or what inspires you?
Friends, toothy grins, black and white films, bad pop music (it's totally my favorite guilty pleasure). Lately I've been loving the exhibits coming through the Nordic Heritage Museum, but I swear I spend time in places other than Ballard! :) Life. Love. The Olympic Peninsula. The waterfront. Photosynthesis (did I mention I need the sun to grow?). Fits of laughter.
How would you like to see your business grow?
Such an exciting question! I'm working on adding new products, like ladies' briefs, and eventually I'd love to add men's undies too. I've also been giving lots of thought to bras, slips, and other undergarments made from repurposed clothing. I am also excited to be working on the expansion of my size chart- I think that everyone deserves clothing that fits well and makes them feel good, and I think the market sometimes overlooks folks who might have unique fit challenges. I really want my products to be inclusive, and I've been working to stretch my size chart so I offer many sizes (Right now, I offer sizes 0-16, but I'm looking for fit models in sizes 18 & 20- want a free pair of undies?).
My next step in that arena is to start making undies that are designed for specific body types, like pear and apple shapes (so maybe you'd wear a 12 pear or a 14 apple?) I think it's super fun, and could be amazing for the unique fit challenges women face. I'm still working on it, but really excited about the possibilities!
Eventually, I'd love to do this full time. I'm hoping to expand some of the other services I offer, like sewing lessons, both private and group, and custom sewing. I've done everything from wedding dresses to copying clothing, and I really love working with individual clients. It takes an adventurous and imaginative soul to take a leap of faith like that. :)
Pretty cool, huh? And she's giving away a pair of her adorable, super comfy undies* to one of you lucky readers! The winner will receive a pair from Kori's Eiffel Tower series in her size and choice of color.
Here's how to enter:
Leave a comment on this post.
Extra entries (let me know in your comment if you've done any of these):
Tweet about this giveaway linking to this post and Kori's Etsy shop.
Follow Kori on Twitter (be sure to include your Twitter handle).
Like Kori's Facebook page.
Giveaway closes next Wednesday, April 18th, at 12:00 midnight PST. The winner will be announced next Thursday, April 19th. Good luck!
And for all readers, if you'd like to purchase a pair you can enjoy free shipping (U.S. addresses only) until the end of April by entering the code "Stevie" at checkout.
*Kori provided me with a pair of her Upitees and I am in LOVE. They are so incredibly soft and comfortable, and so, so cute!