Not to brag or anything, but we basically have all the coolest bra-making ladies up here in Canada. It must be something about our long winters spent inside sewing/awesome northern personalities that drives us all to bra making.
As part of the Canada Cups - Cross Your Heart Relay, I am bringing you guys an interview with the fabulous Emerald Erin - bra making genius and twenty-something entrepreneur/girl boss from Belleville, Ontario! When asked to pick someone to interview for the tour, I just knew I had to try and get a hold of Erin - We have such similar styles, I knew you guys would adore her, plus she's totally the reason I got into bra-making. If you love talking about bras, business, and being pretty fearless, you're going to love hearing from Erin.
So without anymore chatter, please, meet Emerald Erin!
Hi I’m Erin, aka Emerald Erin. I’m a 25-year-old bra and swimwear sewing enthusiast living in Belleville, Ontario. Growing up, my grandmother was a seamstress, so I think you can say sewing is in my blood! I’ve never had professional schooling in sewing, but through high school and university I’ve always managed to find a way back to sewing through special projects in art classes, or volunteer charity fashion shows. After university, and my quarter-life crisis, I realized how important creativity was for me, and I got deeper and deeper into sewing, which lead me all the way to my favourite sewing – bras and swimwear, and the rest is history!
The Bra Making Journey
I got into bra-making after university. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, and I started a sewing blog to channel all of my creative energy. Over time I started seeking out more and more challenging projects, and I took a class on making swimwear- which lead me on the path to bra making. For me bra-making is the ultimate sewing. It’s where fashion meets function, and engineering meets sewing- to me it’s the best sewing, where the math side of my brain and the creative side of my brain are both satisfied. Learning bra-making is really like any other hobby- it takes practice, which is why I set myself a challenge to make a bra-a-week in 2015 (and again in 2016!), which is where I learned so much about making bras, what I like and what works- I also learned to make them much quicker too!!
When I started bra making, like many other interests, I think the most important thing is to know that you’re not going to be amazing at it right away, you’re going to be a bit shit at it for a while, and then you’ll get better and better. But one really simple tip for my beginner self would be- use better thread, don’t waste your time sewing with bad quality thread- it’s too heart breaking when it snaps!
BRA MAKING STYLE
I feel like I’m a little bit removed from the bra-making industry, but I do love my Pinterest! I see more and more bralettes out there, which I LOVE! But I understand that they don’t work for every body. But I think that’s also a good and important thing- I see a lot more variety in small brands now, that specialize in one specific body type and fit, small cups- big cups- small bands- big bands- but I think that’s the way forward with bra making. I love to see more specialization and more understanding of the huge beautiful variety of bodies out there and making better options for them!
Out of all the bras that I’ve made, well it’s very hard to choose a favourite- they’re all my babies. But I have to say that there’s a special place in my heart for my ‘Dreaming in Silk’ bra, my ‘Black Beauty’ and my ‘Lily of the Valley’ set : )
About The Emerald Studio
The Emerald Studio is my blog come to life. It’s a little studio in the heart of downtown Belleville. It was an old carriage-way, long and narrow, and it has exposed brick and heating, and at the top of the walls you can see the old circus posters that they put up in the 20’s! It’s the perfect mix of industrial chic with creative flare that gets my mind whirring with ideas! Between all of my blog activities, online bra & swimwear supply orders and classes it’s a very busy place! It’s where I sew up all of my samples bras and swimwear for the bra-a-week challenge, where I package up all my orders from my online shop, and where I teach my sewing classes!
STARTING A SMALL BUSINESS
It’s hard to say exactly when I decided that I wanted my own business. I think it’s an idea that gets into the back of your mind, and then stews there for a little while before all of the sudden you have ideas about the colour scheme of your new shop before you even fully realized you wanted one! It all came together pretty quickly for me- and I think it was finding that gap in a market doing something I love and wanting to be a cool part of this new DIY movement that I see happening. It was also realizing what I wanted in my life for myself and believing that I could make it happen. It was the best decision I’ve ever made, and I haven’t even had a moment to look back.
For me, making transition from a hobbyist to a professional is all about balance. When you have something as a hobby, generally it’s all fun- you do it when you want to, on your own time. With a business, it can’t really be your hobby anymore- it can still be fun and awesome- which is why you have to make sure you don’t over do it all the time! – but you have to plan more, take things a little more seriously and think a little bit more about your sewing community too! Even after two and a half years of what I would call ‘intensive’ bra making, I still love it more every day!
A day in the life of Emerald Erin, is very different day to day. Some days are very similar; I wake up and read all of your lovely emails and comments over my morning tea. Then I head into my studio (often with my mom and dog Gibby!), and I package and ship all my orders for the day. After that my day is split between all different projects like my next blog post, doing product photography for my online shop, ordering more inventory, or the ever-growing list of secret projects that I’m working on all the time ;) If I’m not doing that I might be out on a photo shoot with my mom & Gibby – which has been a great excuse to get to the beach more this summer! (as long as you don’t mind people staring at you as you’re posing and having your photo taken in a bikini!)
I feel like it’s been such a whirlwind, I haven’t had much of a chance to think about the studio in 5-10 years! I would love to have a whole series of sewing patterns, I would also love to be teaching more classes (and maybe travelling around to teach some classes too! That’s always fun!). But I don’t know if I ever want to expand into a huge empire or anything haha! There something about being a small business owner and having my own little studio that I love so much : )
There are so many rewarding things about having a business. I think one of the most rewarding was getting my studio. When I first decided to start a business, I was originally going to start it from home. But there was a competition happening in my town for a year of free rent at a downtown shop and I thought- if this isn’t a sign I don’t know what is! So I entered- my business plan, and a pitch to a panel of judges, and I won! They chose me! And that was a very rewarding feeling to know that they all believed in my business plan and I would have my own studio!
Being in business is definitely a challenge, and it’s a 24/7 kind of challenge. There are moments, especially on my hormonal days (lol) where I think ‘this is too hard!’ but usually a short break and a good piece of chocolate (or three) will cure it! For me it’s all about keeping things in perspective and remembering what is important to you and that there is always time- it’s not a race!
The advice that I would give anyone who wants to get into the bra-making industry is, firstly, try it out- make lots of bras and practice! Definitely make sure you love it before you jump in! The other thing that I would say is- do what you know, and make for yourself. What I mean by that is: with bras, specializing is one of the best things that you can do- learn your body type and how to fit it perfectly, and you’ll be way better at helping all the other women out there who have similar fitting issues to you. I feel like there is a niche for every breast type out there right now, and if you want offer something really great to one of those niches- you’ll make a lot of people very happy!
I have so many dreams for my business, and more than a few ideas. Sometimes I’m hesitant to share them- because when you mention them, people usually want them right away lol! But I really feel like the sky is the limit, there are so many things that I want to do with patterns, bra theory, classes, and bra and swimwear kits. There are also so many amazing posts that I’m looking forward to- and I would love to get into doing some video- tutorials and lookbooks! My mind never stops flipping through all the amazing possibilities!
If you want to keep up with all of my happenings and be part of my cool community!- the best way to do that is to follow me on my blog : emeralderin.blogspot.ca
Thank you so much Erin for taking the time to share your experiences with us!
If all this talk about bra making goodness is getting you inspired to start making something great, check out this giveaway! Craftsy is offering some awesome stuff up for grabs for you guys - so check it out! PS: I am a Craftsy Affiliate! If you buy anything using any of the links on this page, I'll receive a small commission.
Click the image below now for a chance to win a bundle of 3 Craftsy classes (your choice). This will teach you all the skills you need to sew your own lingerie, as well as many other sewing skills:Stay with us through to the end of the tour for a chance to win additional prizes:
- complete kits to make your own bra,
- bra- and swimsuit-making classes,
- fabric, and more ...
Follow the magical tour to see what we all have under our clothes// Please note that none of these post links are available before the scheduled date. If you click on one too early, you will get an Error 404: Page not found. You know about those, right? //
Sunday, September 11
Monday, September 12
- Valérie, la Élégantine, gets us airborne with some lingerie of her own, même en français & Her Bosom Buddy Michelle S. from Little Heart Threads, balances with more sweet lingerie
- Lisa who drinks Glitter in my Coffee brings us an Uplifting post
- Rachel of The Wild Stitch manages a little tête-à-tête with Emerald Erin
Tuesday, September 13
- Lisa fits right in as a new Pin Up Girl & Her Bosom Buddy, Shelaine, also makes her first bra
- Rachelle gets up close and personal with Carrie from With Love Lingerie
- Valérie returns with a whole new Bosom Buddy to tell us about Miss Maika Fabrics (This girl gets around!)
Wednesday, September 14
- Rachelle gets to the bottom of things with her review of a Craftsy class & Her surrogate Bosom Buddy Michelle N. from Michelle's Creations dishes on the same Craftsy class
- Jessica from Gracious Threads gets the skinny on our Fairy Bra Mother
- Deb of Sprouting Jubejube chats with Emilie from Jalie
Thursday, September 15
- Karin gets chaotic (twice!) with corsets at Mrs. Weaver's Finest Unmentionables & Her BB Marsha flies by the seams of her pants into the corsetry web
- Shelaine is up to something and we have no idea what
- Michelle gets Mrs. Weaver to talk about her Finest Unmentionables
Friday, September 16
- Wild Stitch Rachel tries her hands at designing her own assets & So does her Cross Country BB Jess from the west
- Valérie est du rétour avec une entrevue de Blackbird
- Michelle N. takes us to a secret spot in the centre of things
Saturday, September 17
- Michelle S. returns to talk to Wendy about her bespoke bras. Be what??
- Marsha gets a taste of what's behind Farthingales' corsets
- Meanwhile BBs Deb and Michelle N. go bottoms up in panties
Sunday, September 18
Whoohoo! It's giveaway day today!
Monday, September 19
Have you entered the giveaways yet? Today's your last chance.
Tuesday, September 20
Giveaway winners announced on all the blogs:
Life of a Fairy Bra Mother, Little Heart Threads, Glitter in my Coffee, Michelle's Creations, Mrs. Weaver's Finest Unmentionables, Braphoria, Gracious Threads, Élégantine!, Shelaine's Designs, That's so Venice, Sprouting Jubejube, Flying by the Seam of my Pants, The Wild Stitch, Farthingales Corset Blog
After September 20
- Come back to visit all the blogs for followup posts. It's always fun!
- Craftsy class discounts expire at midnight Sept. 30
I'll be back again on Friday sharing a review of a popular Craftsy class and some bra-making hacks you won't want miss - Until then, I hope you have a browse around at some of the other amazing reviews that are coming up this week! Pinky-promise, you won't regret it!
Until next time,
Creative lifestyle blogger, dedicated to the process of making new things and worrying about being perfect LATER. Lover of Instagram, making things, and wearing dresses instead of pants.
I post a new handmade garment every Wednesday!