The great thing about my job is learning about lingerie brands, retailers, and bloggers from all over the world. One of those people is Estelle Puleston of Esty Lingerie.
I first ran into Esty Lingerie when stumbling across their extensive lingerie blogger database (which I included in my book). It's a fabulous resource, whether your interest is in established or indie brands.
But there's much more to know about Esty Lingerie. It's not only a lingerie retail website, but Estelle is a designer and an active blogger. And lucky for me, she'll now be a contributing writer on The Breast Life.
Discover more about Estelle and how she got her start in the lingerie business in my interview, below:
Estelle Puleston of Esty Lingerie
Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing about lingerie? What made you launch an online boutique?
I launched Esty Lingerie in 2009 during my degree, because I was studying business management but didn’t feel like I was learning the nitty-gritty details of how you actually run a company. I’ve always been both entrepreneurial and creative---I sold handmade jewelry on eBay as a teen, for example---so it just felt natural to start something like this.
I began by importing stuff from China but quickly discovered the handmade lingerie scene and realized I was more passionate about supporting and selling indie brands. I was already dabbling in sewing clothes for myself, so over the next couple of years, I experimented with making lingerie and eventually added my own designs to the shop too.
Trailing Flowers Embroidered Suspender Belt by Esty Lingerie
Initially, Esty Lingerie was purely a retail site, but in 2012 I added a blog because I’d heard it was good marketing. It turns out, I love writing! Earlier this year I redesigned the website as primarily a blog, but the shop is still there too.
Amathia Collection by Esty Lingerie
That makes it around five years now that I’ve been writing about lingerie. And as of last month, I quit my day job to do it professionally. I’m only five weeks in but I think I can safely say it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!
How is reviewing lingerie on your blog different from choosing lingerie for your eStore? What are the challenges to both?
A lot of the lingerie I review is stuff I buy, so my main priority is “do I like it?” For the shop, I need to think about what my customers like and that won’t necessarily align with my own tastes. For example, I love bold colours and yet 90% of what gets bought from my shop is black. Though I don’t carry items I actively dislike, because I get more excited about promoting lingerie I genuinely find pretty.
Impish Lee Robe Review
I designed a harness once and wasn’t really happy with how it turned out aesthetically. But I put the sample up for sale and it sold right away. So I made more, and it went on to be my best-seller for about two years! That’s the most challenging bit---predicting what’s going to be popular. It’s a big risk because you can’t just return wholesale stock in the same way you can return a personal purchase. And as much as I try to make an educated guess, there’s always something that I bought minimal stock of that sells out, and something that I thought I’d sell a ton of that gets met with tumbleweeds.
Ted Baker Pure Peony Chemise Review
Blog review challenges? Writing succinctly! I often get carried away and write 2,000 words on a bra set. Most people don’t want to read all that, so I’m forever going back and editing my reviews to get the same information across in less text.
In addition to running your own business, you also provide a copywriting and digital marketing services. What have been the biggest challenges to maintaining your brand and promoting your services?
The fact I have a lingerie blog has actually been a massive help in promoting my services! It’s a ready-made portfolio. When I approach lingerie and swimwear brands, I can say, “Hey, here’s a link to a few hundred articles I’ve written on the topic." It makes an impression.
The biggest challenge is time, i.e. getting all of the client work done without neglecting Esty Lingerie. I’ve found it helps to treat it like it’s another client, setting aside time in my schedule specifically to work on my own brand.
Katy Rose Embroidered Flower and Gold Elastic Ouvert Knickers by Esty Lingerie
What’s a typical day like you? Do you have any tips for solo entrepreneurs? How do you balance the work/family dynamic, especially as a new mother?
I used to wake up at 7am to go to work, and I’ve kept that up. I love my sleep and it’s very tempting to have daily lie-ins if I choose. But it feels great getting to lunchtime already having crossed half of my to-do list off. A tip: if you’re an alarm-snoozer by nature like me, schedule client calls for early in the morning!
Part of the reason I decided to choose self-employment was to spend more time with my son. I make sure we do something together every day---baking, swimming, popping to the nearby park, etc. I get a break from work and he has fun. Plus, he gets worn out. So afterwards he’ll nap and I have some peace and quiet to do those tasks that require my full concentration, like writing articles.
Pivoine Choker Strap by Esty Lingerie
What advice would you give to someone who wants to break into the fashion or lingerie blogging business? Is there room for new voices in the fashion and lingerie blogging world?
There is absolutely room for new voices in the lingerie blogosphere. I maintain a public database of lingerie blogs, and at last count there were fewer than 100 currently active. Contrast that to the fact that there are literally tens of thousands of fashion and women’s lifestyle blogs!
My advice would first be that you need something that sets you apart. That can be focussing on a specific niche such as lingerie or evening wear, having a cool photography style, or something else. It would be very difficult to ‘make it’ as a fashion blogger nowadays without a unique angle. There's just too much competition in the ‘generic fashion blogger’ category.
And my second piece of advice would be to seek out other blogs like yours and start talking to them. Twitter’s great for that. As a blogging newbie, getting your content shared by someone who’s already established can be a real boost. But don’t be spammy about it. Take a genuine interest in their content, create great stuff yourself, and it’ll just happen naturally.
I'm looking forward to Estelle sharing her expertise and perspective in upcoming blog posts. And if you have any specifics topics you'd like her to cover, let me know in the comments below!
All images copyright Esty Lingerie.