Sophie Hines’ bras are a pillar of the Bluestockings collection. The minimalism, the edginess, the commitment to slow fashion: Sophie’s aesthetic has always been an ideal fit for us, and I’m ecstatic that y’all love her bras as much as I do.
Sophie recently graduated from college and moved to New England, but she’s been working for herself since she was 15. This kind of self-determination and sheer vim is the essence of indie designers in the lingerie industry. Today, we're talking lingerie and entrepreneurship with Sophie.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
Hello! My name is Sophie, and I am the founder and maker of the lingerie label Sophie Hines. I am a woman-run company, and I focus on making the most comfortable hand-made garments with the highest quality and coolest designs. My pieces are inspired by geometry, architecture, and minimalism. The best places to find me are on Instagram and Facebook, and I blog behind the scenes, new projects, and personal thoughts.
I started sewing at age three with lessons from my mom and graduated this spring from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelors of Science in Textiles and Fashion design.
Graduating means that finally, after eight years, I can go full-time with my business! Very exciting, mostly nerve-wracking, but it’s been so great working for customers who love to support handmade, slow fashion, and independent designers - people like Jeanna at Bluestockings!
The bestselling Basal Bralette
I make lingerie because I am super obsessed with it, but also, I am just plain For Women. I believe that every woman is a beautiful, wonderful, important, valuable member of society, and I love promoting our worth and value. I love providing women with such a radical luxury as comfortable underwear.So much of women’s undergarments and clothing is just plain uncomfortable, and I’m super over it. I hate it when media presents lingerie as something you wear to seduce someone, and I hate it equally when that same ‘sexy’ lingerie is uncomfortable. I believe that lingerie is something that belongs to the woman who wears it, whether or not she chooses to share it with someone else.
Every woman deserves to be comfortable in her underwear, and someone else’s pleasure is Not worth her discomfort. Because sex isn’t about looking pretty: it’s about having fun and making a connection with the other person, and that goes for all partners. Bottom line: You deserve comfortable lingerie. (No matter the brand)
On a more practical level, I love projects that I can sit down and finish in an hour or two, and lingerie is complex enough to be interesting even after making thousands of pieces! I make every single piece by hand to order, so staying interested in my own work is pretty important!
You interned at VPL. How did that experience impact your design aesthetic? Did it have an impact on you as a small business owner?
I did my school internship in the VPL Production department. This was really great because I got to learn the ins and outs of garment mass - production as well as the business behind the designs. If anyone is interested in starting their own label (and is as picky as I am in every single aspect of running the business) I would really recommend this.
As I already had my business in place for several years prior to the internship, working for VPL didn’t really affect my design aesthetic, but it did help me to be more adventurous in combining multiple colors in a single garment. If you’ve ever seen a VPL piece, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. They don’t have a single piece with fewer than four different colors and materials. I definitely shy away from color (How could you tell? Haha) so that experience helped me to branch out in color selection.
You model for your own lookbooks, which strikes me as both gutsy and really vulnerable. What prompted that decision, and what is the process like?
Thank you so much!
I was in Nebraska when I started, and there weren’t a lot of people around who wanted underwear pics on the internet, especially when we’re all in a relatively small town. So, initially it was out of necessity- the process involved balancing my dad’s point and shoot camera with a ten-second timer on a stack of library books. I was actually a model in high school, so I have that experience to draw on. And, when you’re a model, why not?
My target market is myself- if I wouldn’t wear it, it doesn’t get put up for sale. My brand is my vision and my style, so as my business grew, it seemed like the most authentic thing to do to keep modeling for the line. It’s kind of a way to stand by my products, to guarantee that I’ll never sell a garment I don’t believe in. I don’t do sexy pictures, because I don’t give a sh*t about the male gaze, and my customers aren’t looking for sex, they’re looking for underwear.
That’s another thing that is so crazy about a brand focusing entirely on comfort, instead of sex appeal - women’s bodies are so fetishized, that a woman’s body equals sexy, so lingerie equals sex. Which is just solidly NOT TRUE. We’re not sex kittens. We’re people who have lives including sex, not exclusively sex. My underwear is for doing whatever you want, no restraints. Netflix and world domination both need comfy underwear.
Cartesian Crop Top by Sophie Hines
What have been your greatest challenges as a small business owner?
Most of my challenges have revolved around finding help to get everything done - there’s just so much involved in running a business! I took a business law class in high school, and I spent my last semester of college working with law students in an entrepreneurial program, but the actual running of the business is still stressful. I couldn’t do anything else though; going to work for somebody else is just a nightmare. I’ve tried it a couple times; it is not for me.
My other nightmare is email. It’s just not in my wheelhouse, making my PR department a hot mess. It’s my main source of hate mail, but it surely keeps me humble!
What have been your greatest successes?
Graduating from college. It was truly a miracle. Praises to the Lord.
Honestly, every time I get an order in, it’s a massive validation and great success. I just still can’t believe people would trade money for my garments! How cool is that? Also, what a blessing that I have the guts to do this! I decided to be self-employed at age 15 and here I am! That’s probably one of the greatest successes. But I definitely wouldn’t be in the position to be able to do this without all the people who helped me and taught me things over the years- my parents, who taught me how to sew, encouraged my pursuit of a degree in Fashion, and never got upset that I have underwear pictures on the internet for my job; my modeling agents, who taught me how to model and direct a photoshoot; and my scholarship donor, who put me through college so I could work on my business in my spare time. Any success I have has to be shared!
Last but not least: if we looked inside your lingerie drawer, what would we find?
My own style is definitely minimalistic, lots of white tshirts, grey buttondowns, charcoal skinny jeans. The only place I have color is in my lingerie drawer, which is so much fun. I love that aspect of lingerie, that it doesn’t have to match your outfit. You can wear all black and have a neon yellow set underneath. Ow! I also love glitter and sparkles - my pink and silver sequin Princesse Tam Tam bra (google it, it’s to die for) is my all time favourite. My three underwire bras are Mimi Holliday, Princesse Tam Tam, and Oysho, purchased in Paris.
Otherwise, I have a lot of soft bras and bralettes from just everywhere. The garments I wear from my own line are the lavender Cevian, navy mesh Basal (pictured above), black Consecutive [Crop Top], and Hexa halter. I feel most comfortable in boyshorts and hiphugger panties, and am working on stocking my lingerie drawer with my own underwear. I only have a few pairs of my own, isn’t that hilarious? Oops. No time to sew for myself! My new collection is made up of pieces that I want in my wardrobe - mostly basics, but some fun pieces too! I’ll also be expanding on the elastic harnesses, so hold onto your hats!
P.P.S. Shop Sophie Hines at Bluestockings!