A few years ago, Leanna Williams was living in Brighton, England, and working a 9-5 at the Register Office of Birth, Deaths, and Marriages. While she enjoyed her work, she harbored a secret dream of designing a line of lingerie exclusively for full-busted women like herself.
It wasn’t until 2011 that Leanna began turning those dreams into reality. After taking courses at De Montfort University and the London College of Fashion, she started sketching out what would eventually become her first lingerie collection. Today Leanna is the founder and creative director of Harlow & Fox, a British-made lingerie line catering to women who wear a size 30-38 DD-G bra.
We asked Leanna five questions about her inspiration, her favorite beauty products, and what’s next for Harlow & Fox. Here’s what she had to say:
What inspired you to make such a huge career change? I can’t imagine it was easy to transition from a desk job at a government agency to founding your own lingerie line.
I was actually made redundant, so it was somewhat forced upon me. Looking back, this really was the best way it could have happened though–as much as I loved the work, it would have stayed the same forever, and not really had anywhere to go with it. Having that push into the unknown, as scary as it was, made me realize how much I was capable of, and how exciting a future was possible. I went from thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if those beautiful bras were in my size?” to thinking, “I’m going to be the one to make that happen.” Of course, it’s been terrifying and stressful at times, but it’s also been the most liberating and empowering experience I could have imagined.
What do you enjoy the most about working in the lingerie industry?
The constant buzz of every day being different is amazing and seeing every aspect of the business from the component sourcing to the photoshoots to the administration work. It makes for a lot of juggling, but it means I get to have a much better understanding of each process. Above all of that though, the people I’ve met have made it for me. Everyone is so friendly and supportive, and the network I’ve formed has been incredible–not only from a work perspective but for the opportunities it’s brought me to really enjoy it and share that with others just as passionate as myself.
What inspires your designs?
For me, interiors are very inspiring. I actually very rarely buy fashion magazines, but will always have an interior one around–I love tearing out pictures of beautifully curated rooms, and imagining my customers within them, wearing my designs. The materials I use are a constant inspiration to me also–the Viola collection, for example, came about entirely because I fell in love with our particular signature lace so much, I had to find a way to use more of it. I came up with a longline bra band and skirted lace thong that could showcase it better!
What is your summer fashion and beauty philosophy? Do you have any favorite summer beauty products?
As I have very pale and very sensitive skin, the most important thing for me is sunscreen. Even in cloudy little England, I will always have on Ultrasun 50+ sunscreen if I go out for the day. It’s the best one I’ve found for excellent protection and being non-irritating. Makeup-wise, I like to keep things fairly natural. I swear by Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream for light coverage whilst still being really moisturizing. I also like a little mascara for definition, and Trilogy rosehip oil lip balm for added sheen on the lips.
What’s next for Harlow & Fox? What professional goals do you still have on your bucket list?
We’ve got some interesting plans afoot for some new customer events. There really isn’t anything better than being face to face with women, to show them all of the details close up, have fittings, and find the perfect style and size for them–along with a glass of something sparkling, perhaps! On the professional bucket list? To be stocked in Harrods–surely every designer’s ultimate dream!