Lemon has enough energy to fuel a small suburb of London. All smiles, vibrant short blonde hair, juicy couture trackies and oodles of charisma. I met up with the founder of Lemonade Dolls, the newest and most inspiring underwear brand on the market, to talk about shaking up the industry and making sure inclusivity is more than a buzz word. In their own words, they’re not just an underwear company; they’re a girl army. Naturally, Lemon is also Master instructor at Psycle, so we grab a coffee before her next class – I find it hard to drag myself to yoga once a week, but for this force of nature it’s just part of lemonyworld.
Tell us about Lemonade Dolls, what do you do for those who may not know?
My names Lemon, I created Lemonade Dolls from an idea that came about four and a half years ago. I’ve been in the entertainment industry for a really long time, and I got to the point where I was sick of it and want to create a brand that I had control over. Whilst I was living in LA, a few things happened that made me realise it wasn’t what I wanted to do and I wanted to create something that meant a little bit more. Something that would allow me to be in charge rather than other people telling me what to do.
I wanted to do something that promoted female talent, so I came back from LA two and a half years ago and decided to put my head down full-time and get this underwear brand going. This was when Victoria Secret was at its height, dominating 70% of the market. Did you know that?? 70%!
I noticed my nieces growing up in a very different era from when I did, we had the spice girls and girl power. I saw a gap in the market with underwear, there wasn’t a brand at the time that was celebrating all types of women and being inclusive. Three years ago it was all underwire and chicken filets, and I didn’t want to wear that anymore – I felt like there was an area for me to try and make girls feel great, and help them realise that it’s not about how you look but what you do.
What was the inspiration to start, and how did you make those first steps?
So, I have a book. I’m going to show you actually.
*Lemon pulls out a scrapbook, that is full of materials and the cutest drawings.
I made a book of drawings and ideas. How hysterical – this is where it started from.
You need to frame that.
I know. So, I had all these fabrics and glitter flying about when I went to see one of my current business partners, Caren Downie, who’s basically Vivienne Westwood of the high street. I met her with my book, the owner and director of Finery, and I was a bit naive but very enthusiastic. She said it was the most refreshing thing she’d seen in a long time but that I needed to go away and hone it. That meeting gave me the validation that my ideas were good and the motivation to peruse it. I went away, found a branding company to help me, found factories, persuaded people to do samples.
A lot of people now are like how have you got into Topshop in two weeks? Like, no, it’s been 4 and a half years of building relationships. It hasn’t started overnight. It was stop start stop start, it’s all about persistence. I worked full-time trying to fundraise for over a year, so things like Topshop were easy in comparison.
That’s so important to state. An overnight success story doesn’t happen.
Yeah, I come from a very normal background – it’s all just been me being a bit mad and going for it.
We love how positive and inclusive your brand is, what made you want to make that a core principle?
For me, it’s really obvious. Girls come in all shapes and sizes, why wouldn’t I cater to all my friends? Secondly, I don’t get the idea of this ‘perfect body’ that society and the media jump on – I don’t want to be any part of that.
Everyone matters, so it’s for everyone. Not this ‘ideal’ – I don’t get that ideal. The ideal is what every individual wants to be. We’re promoting a community and the women involved, as much as we promote our product.
What would you like to change about the industry?
I’d love for more brands to not jump on bandwagons, and just put a token plus size girl in. I’ve seen a massive change recently, two of the girls in my campaign Kelly and Sonny, couldn’t get jobs a few years ago – and now they’re everywhere. It’s maintaining that rather than it being tokenism. I just want the industry to keep going.
We love tongue-in-cheek slogans, what’s the mantra you live by?
My life mantra is “wherever you are on your journey, you’re exactly where you’re meant to be”. And my favourite slogan of Lemonade dolls is “my pants my rules”, it’s really important for young girls to take ownership of their bodies with some sass.
What advice would you give other women wanting to start a business?
First and foremost, trust yourself and your gut. Be persistent and don’t take no for an answer – if I took no for an answer I would have stopped this business 500 times.
If you had to summarise yourself and Lemonade Dolls in 3 words?
For myself, I’d say loyal, determined and a little bit crazy. For Lemonade Dolls, I’d pick empowered, celebratory and girl power.
Now, for the question we ask everyone, what would you go back and tell your 16-year-old-self?
Enjoy the journey, be patient, trust yourself.
Get your pants, HERE.
Follow Lemon HERE.