I recently met with Lynda Adraste, founder and owner of French Lingerie Shop.com. We had a conversation about female beauty, starting a business, lingerie and living in Singapore. Here’s what we talked about as well as a photo that I took of Lynda. All the other photos were provided by Lynda.
Amber: It’s a pleasure to meet you Lynda. As a business owner with a focus on women I noticed your company a while ago, and have been looking forward to hearing your story. Could you tell me about yourself?
Lynda: I grew up in Paris and studied marketing at business school. I then worked for various advertising agencies doing online marketing for banks. In 2008 I had my son, stopped working for advertising agencies and launched my own business. It was a busy year! We moved briefly to London then 5 years ago we came to Singapore. Now I also have a delightful daughter who is 3 years old.
Amber: When did your passion with lingerie start?
Lynda: Lingerie is an integral part of French culture and tradition. Even as a teenager I was passionate about lingerie, spending all my pocket money on it! Everything about it fascinated me, especially the fabrics used to make them: silk, lace, net, satin, cotton, plumetis, Lycra: I love all of them!
A: What was your motivation to set up your company?
L: Three reasons. Firstly I didn’t want to work for a company any more, I felt like I was working hard for little recognition and questioned whether anyone was truly benefitting from all my hard work. I wanted to work for myself and to create something. Secondly I wanted to work in my passion and to help small designers promote their fabulous products, to promote products made in France as well as export the ‘savoir faire’ that the French have in the lingerie industry. The third reason was to have flexibility because I was starting my own family. I wanted to be there for my kids every time they need me, to have the opportunity to be a mother and run my business in the same time.
A: What makes French Lingerie Shop special?
L: I offer women high-quality lingerie that builds self-confidence: that is the biggest difference between French Lingerie Shop and the major players in the industry. All women have difference sizes, shapes, body types and tastes and we do not fit the stereotypes that we see in magazines. Because our lingerie is custom-made it fits each woman perfectly and makes her feel confident and beautiful. That is my mission!
In addition I was the first online underwear store focusing on designers as opposed to brands. My lingerie is designed and hand-made to order by small independent French designers, mostly located in Paris. One British designer just joined us so her lingerie is made in Britain. We offer a range of materials, designs, sizes (up to 38J and 20) and lingerie types, covering organic, maternity, fashion and romantic. Great attention is given to the intricate details that make each item unique. Orders are shipped worldwide straight from the designer to the customer. I am proud that not only am I supporting small designers to become more well-known, I am also providing my discerning clients with unique, luxurious and custom-made lingerie.
A: What is your definition of female beauty?
L: It’s a combination of personality and the physical attention that a woman gives to herself. Having an open smile, being happy and positive gives someone a glow even if they are not classically “beautiful”. It changes the line of the face; when a person is not happy on the inside it shows on the outside. Also I think that women are more attractive when they make an effort to look their best. It shows that they value themselves, which to me is beautiful.
A: I always think that French ladies look so stylish – they have a certain way of dressing and carrying themselves that exudes glamour and style. It seems to come naturally too!
L: I think that French women know that wearing nice clothes makes you feel confident and beautiful and that starts with the lingerie. I know it helps me to walk a bit taller. I’m always telling women that feeling beautiful starts with you – underneath what you show the world. However women do need to wear underwear that fits properly and makes the most of the features you are proud of. As with normal clothes your lingerie should always fit you well, suit your skin/hair colour and be the best style for your shape.
A: What have you learnt through the challenges of being a female business owner ?
L: To trust myself more in my decisions. When I was setting up my website, logo, design, packaging etc. everyone had different ideas. I was pulled in all directions and confused. Eventually I went with what I liked. I trusted my own instincts and now my brand really is a reflection of me. Although I value other people’s opinions I’ve learned not listen to other people’s ‘helpful’ or negative comments about my business, which women do a lot.
A: What advice would you give to anyone starting a new business?
L: Delegate and outsource more. Find people to help you with things that you don’t want to do and work with experts to help build your business faster. Trying to do things yourself takes much more time when you have no experience eg. design, Photoshop. I would have been more efficient in the early days if I had thought of this!
A: How do you balance work and family life?
L: When I started the business I was quite focused on my family. Now that my little one is older I’m ready to give the business more attention. I think there are 3 sides to my life right now: social, as a spouse and as a mother. There is also my work life. It’s hard to keep it balanced and sometimes one part gives more than other. Thankfully living in Singapore enables me to delegate house work and focus on the business. It also helps that the weather is great and I can spend more time outdoors!
A: How do you like to relax?
L: I haven’t read a book since I had kids! I like to go out for a nice lunch or dinner with my friends. I love to cook, to create special meals and share them with my husband (only when the kids are taken care of!) Otherwise when the kids are around I love having family time going to parks and exploring Singapore.
A: What’s your favourite restaurant?
L: The Tippling Club at Tanjong Pagar for lunch – amazing food at a nice price. Jaan, at the top of the Swissotel, serves amazing artisanal French cuisine and the views are incredible. I also like the Bistrot du Vin in the Shaw Centre, the Cliff on Sentosa and Mex Out for lunch, it’s close to my office at Far East Square so you’ll see me there a lot!
A: Do you have a favourite fashion brand?
L: In Singapore I like Massimo Dutti, the fabric is good quality, the pants fit me well and the style is quite European. The price isn’t too bad either, for Singapore!
A: What plans do you have for your business?
L: I’m focusing on building up my website as currently my biggest markets are the USA and Europe. I hope to see more interest from Asia and am trying to build my business here online. I would also like to hire an intern to help me. I can’t do it all by myself so I’m looking for extra help with communication, design, administrative, web management etc.
A: If someone wants to order how does it work with sizing?
L: You may be interested to know that around 70% of my clients are men, looking for gorgeous underwear to give their spouses or partners. I ask the client to send me her (or his partner’s) measurements and I select the best size based on my knowledge and long experience with each designer. I can even recommend the shape of bra depending on what type of support, shape or feel the client is looking for. I have lots of sizing information and conversion charts on my website here.
A: Which pieces of lingerie are the best sellers?
L: In term of designers the most popular are Assia and Maud & Marjorie. One of Assia’s best sellers is the Elfe range: it is a transparent nude tulle embroidered with black elfish faces, which creates a tattoo effect on the skin. The second popular line from Assia is the Butterfly line, ‘Papillon’. This range is made with an amazing blue tulle and adorned with their famous embroidered butterflies.
The Fever range from designers Maud & Marjorie is very popular. They update it every year with new colors and fabrics. The Pouhpouhpidouh line is also one of their best sellers – the mix of silk with black lace gives the lingerie a vintage feel and is one of the classic combinations for lingerie lovers.
A: Lynda, thank you so much for introducing me to French Lingerie Shop. The lingerie that you offer is beautiful and I love that we share the same mission: to enable women to feel good about themselves regardless of their shape, size, age or looks.
L: I’m excited to offer any clients that book a photo shoot with you a 15% discount code on my beautiful lingerie, and look forward to seeing my lingerie in your portraits!
To contact Lynda Adraste:
Phone: +65-8163 0102 and +33 6 1944 6453