interview · lingerie · Missi Plus · My Retro Closet · small business owner

Missi Plus ~ Inspiring Woman ~ Abi of My Retro Closet and The Crafty Pinup

Hello darlings!
 
My Missi Plus segment is back and its that time again for me to share another inspiring woman with you all! 
This month I’m sharing another boss babe with you all! As a small business owner myself, I know the level of work that goes into running your own store. Also as a beginner sewer (I’m working on it but time feels like its always against me!) I’m in awe of this gals amazing sewing creations.
 
 
I’m talking of course of the gorgeous Abi, who is the owner of UK based lingerie brand My Retro Closet and her own sewing blog space the Crafty Pinup!
 
Abi, who is also a lingerie lover, recently answered some questions for you all about having your own business, a love of lingerie and her sewing skills! I hope you all love them!
 
Jayne Bed Jacket from My Retro Closet
Modelled by Rachel Francis and shot by Pinup Academy
Firstly, thank you so much for taking the time to have a chat with me and answer some questions! I know how busy running your own business can be. Now I know from reading your website that you started My Retro Closet after completing a degree in Lingerie design. But what made you pursue the degree initially? Where does your love of vintage lingerie come from?
 
Thanks so much for having me on your wonderful blog, serious fan girl moment for me! I chose to study Contour Fashion (lingerie, swimwear & corsetry design) at university after being totally turned off by regular fashion courses. During my year before of studying at art college, I ventured into the world of lingerie and vintage style for a project after admiring 1950s fashion myself, and I was hooked. Vintage fashion suited me and flattered me way more then modern fashion trends ever did, and being individual with my style was always really important to my identity. Retro & vintage lingerie felt like a natural progression.
I knew I wanted to design, create and expand my skills as a seamstress, but didn’t see myself in the fashion industry. As my interest in the 1950s and burlesque grew, so did my love for vintage icons like Bettie Page and Jayne Mansfield, where lingerie & nightwear play such a strong part in their iconic looks. It then became a part of my every day life and if my teenage self could see what I was doing now, I think she’d be very pleased indeed!
 
Where did the name My Retro Closet come from?
 
It’s a strange one really, after graduating, my sewing skills felt battered and I thought I’d never go near a sewing machine again! I was literally planning on creating a one-stop-shop pinup up style online underwear store with my favorite brands. It did start that way, but as soon as I introduced my handmade collections, My Retro Closet became so much more. I hope it conveys the range of items I stock (nightwear to lingerie through to stockings), but also leaves room for it to grow and develop further! 
 
Joan Babydoll in Black by My Retro Closet
 
What was the first handmade piece you added to My Retro Closet and how did it feel to see people wearing your design?
 
The first handmade piece I added to the store was my Joan Babydoll in Signature Black. I had the pattern in my stash from a babydoll I had designed as part of my final collection at university, and craved a little creativity. I posted a snap on Instagram not thinking much of it, and people were asking where they could buy it. I was still reluctant to start sewing items for the store, the feeling that you’re not good enough or unique enough is always a struggle. But everything was so well received, I would of been crazy not to continue with it. 3 years on, every time I see a new image of somebody wearing one of my handmade designs I feel so grateful and proud to still be creating.
 
Jayne Ruffle Lingerie Set in pink
Modelled by Chloe Kerley
What’s been your favorite piece to design to date?
 
My favourite is my Jayne Ruffle Lingerie Set. The ruffle set is a design I’ve wanted to create for years, inspired by vintage burlesque lingerie sets from the 50s and 60s, it’s a totally impractical set that just makes you want to dance about. When I made my first sample of the set, it was more just to finally satisfy my need for a ridiculously ruffley bra, I never expected it to be popular, but it’s actually turned it to my best selling handmade item ever! Every time I sew a set I can’t help but feel happy!
 
What’s your lingerie must have?
 
A sturdy and simple suspender belt! I love my Revival Lingerie 6 strap black suspender belt as it holds my stockings in place all day, it’s super comfy to wear and matches with so many underwear sets.
 
Dress made by Abi from her blog Post Cocktail hour on her blog The Crafty Pinup
 
You also sew your own clothing (for your own wardrobe!) which you share over at The Crafty Pinup which is equally as inspiring. As a gal desperately trying to get into sewing (when I eventually find the time) I find this space incredibly inspiring. What made you start this separate sewing space to share with the online community?
 
It was last April when I started The Crafty Pinup Sewing blog, after having a busy Christmas & Valentines Day at My Retro Closet with the launch of my Jayne collection and I was feeling burnt out and like I did nothing for myself. Whilst I spent nearly every day sewing, I realised I hadn’t sewn anything for myself in years. I wanted to claim back some ‘me time’ before I had a total melt down and dressmaking slowly became a weekly occurrence and the time I enjoyed the most. I decided to set up a blog & separate social media as I thought it would encourage me to keep up with it if I knew I’d be showing it to people. Diving into the online sewing community really helped spur me on to keep designing and taught me never to underestimate some selfish sewing time.
 
What has been your most rewarding experience with your business to date?
 
Every time somebody chooses to shop at My Retro Closet and tells me they love their new lingerie or nightwear is the most rewarding feeling. It makes all the hours at the sewing machine, drowning in ruffles worth it. I hope it continues!
Owning your own business is hard work! What advice would you give to someone who wants to take the plunge into the world of small business?
 
It’s certainly not for the fainthearted! But sometimes you just have to go for it. Be prepared for long hours and maximum stress, but it may just turn into the most rewarding thing you ever do. 
 
 
Do you have any advice for novice sewers out there?

 

 

 

 

 

It really is one of those things where you just have to start somewhere. Sewing is as complicated as you want to make it. There is a great range of simple sewing patterns out there (I recently did a video about my Easy Retro Sewing Pattern Picks for Beginners here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6MZJ61N3HM), and there are so many helpful resources online, hopefully my own sewing pattern reviews help in their own way.  You just have to go for it.
 
I hope you’ve all loved my catch up with Abi! 

Don’t forget you can find her store and blog in the places below!
 
My Retro Closet:
The Crafty Pinup:
I’ve loved having Abi on the blog and hope you have too. I’m excited to be back to bringing this segment monthly again.
Til next time darlings

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