Hello, gorgeous! I have a real treat for you today in the form of our first EVER guest blog post, featuring one of my favourite UK based luxury lingerie designers, Vivienne Lynch of Miss Vivienne Lingerie. Based in the Scottish Borders, they create beautiful handmade-to-order lingerie that is not only inclusive in sizing but also eco-conscious in production, using elastic, components and printed materials sustainably sourced from either local Border based suppliers or UK stockists to support the other UK small businesses. Even their packaging is 100% recyclable right down to the packing tape! I’ve been following the brand for a while via Instagram and a couple of weeks ago a solo story post caught my eye about a workday in the life of Vivienne on Instagram Stories, who has a condition called endometriosis.
If endometriosis is a completely new word to your vocabulary then let me give you a quick overview of the condition: Endometriosis is where cells similar to the ones in the lining of the uterus decide to go rogue and grow outside of their designated living quarters. These cells act in exactly the same way to the well-behaved cells in your uterus, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. However, whilst the well-behaved cells can exit the body in the form of a period, the rogue cell matter has no way to escape.
Endometriosis UK describe the condition as ‘a chronic and often debilitating condition that can cause painful or heavy periods. It may also lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems. Around 1.5 million women in the UK are currently living with the condition. Endometriosis can affect all women and girls of childbearing age, regardless of race or ethnicity. The impact can also be felt for life.’
With endometriosis affecting 1 in 10 women and those assigned female at birth, it got me thinking that there must be so many more of you reading this right now that would benefit from hearing Vivienne’s story. As March also happens to be Endometriosis Awareness Month, I invited Vivienne to join us on the blog today to tell you about her lived experience of working and running a successful luxury lingerie business whilst managing her endometriosis, alongside a few images from our recent Virtual Branding Shoot…
Hello lovely people, my name is Vivienne Lynch. I am the owner of Miss Vivienne Lingerie, which is a luxury, sustainable, made to order lingerie brand based in the beautiful Scottish Borders. My main goal with Miss Vivienne is to inspire confidence in womxn through the power of well-fitting, quality lingerie that is made to last.
In all honesty, I never actually set out to start my own business. I was a young graduate in a competitive industry struggling to secure my first design job. I was working in retail to pay the bills but was hellbent on finding a glamorous job in lingerie. On one of my days off, I decided to rustle up a couple of bralettes in the leftover fabric I had from my graduate collection. I uploaded a few images of the pieces onto my social media accounts telling people I had enough fabric to sell a few and… hey presto! Miss Vivienne was born! I became inspired by all the wonderful women I came across in the lingerie community and beyond. The messages I get from my customers telling me that they have found their confidence again after putting on their Miss V pieces are what inspires me to constantly create. If each new design I release empowers just one woman, you bet I’m going to keep designing!
Like most women suffering with endometriosis , it took a looonnngg time for me to be diagnosed. I started experiencing horrendous pain with each period straight off the bat. I think my parents thought I was being dramatic for the first couple of months (I don’t blame them, I am rather dramatic). However, they soon realised what I was experiencing wasn’t normal. I bled heavily, I cried and screamed all night long and going to school felt like an impossible task. After a few years and many appointments with a tonne of specialists (bone surgeons, physiotherapists etc) I was finally referred to a gynaecologist who diagnosed me with endo. I was around fourteen years old at the time therefore they spoke predominantly to my parents about my condition meaning I spent most of my young adult life not knowing much about it. This then in turn meant I started Miss Vivienne Lingerie at age twenty one without realising just how much my endometriosis could interfere.
It started to become more and more of a problem at age twenty two and I came to realise I needed to put some measures in place to cope with everything a bit better. I keep a hot water bottle and co-codamol in the studio at all times. I also factor in one or two sick days amongst my 21 day lead time to ensure no orders are dispatched late. If I’ve had a bad nights sleep, I’ll have a lie in and to avoid feeling guilty about it, I will work a bit later in the day. There’s probably a lot more I should be doing but it can be hard to find a balance when trying to build a business.
For the most part people are very understanding. However there are people out there who believe endometriosis is just a case of ‘bad periods’. I wish they knew just how painful it is, how exhausting it is and how upsetting it can be.
If anyone out there has been recently diagnosed with endo, please know that you are not alone. There are options out there and if you need help in choosing the path that is right for you, there are loads of support groups and individuals who are more than willing to chat. There is an army of us (10% of the female population!!) and we are all here for each other. What’s more, is that you know your own body and its limits so look after yourself. Show yourself kindness and be strong.
Having Endometriosis can make goal setting difficult, but it’s important to still set those goals regardless. At the end of the day, it is a condition some of us have to live with but we can’t let it get in the way of the things we want to achieve. I am immensely proud of how far my business has come despite everything. Having to shut my online shop last month after reaching maximum order capacity in thirty six minutes has got to be one of my proudest moments so far!
People always ask what advice I’d give to someone starting a business and I always say to LOVE what you do and LOVE the people who are buying into it. The three P’s; passion, people, product. If you happen to suffer from endo, the above still applies but I’d maybe add a fourth P. PAMPER! Try to practice self care as much and as often as you can. Rest up when you need to and hit the ground running when you feel you are able. It’s all about knowing your limits.
For now, I am still trying to figure out my own routine. I am 100% overworking myself and I’m trying to figure out how to best to balance work/life. However, one thing that always calms me is sitting with my sketchbook, pencil and a nice big glass of wine! I am currently working on some new ranges which will be arriving in the summer and I can not wait to share them with everyone!
Looking for more information on Endometriosis?
You can find a wealth of information, resources, and support at Endometriosis UK, as well as the opportunity for your business to join their Endometriosis Friendly Employer Scheme and take a proactive approach to developing better practice and support for employees with endometriosis.