Interview with freelancer bra expert Kimberly from Kimbralisa

Finding advice about starting your own lingerie line, or simply becoming a lingerie designer can be time consuming and tiring. With conflicting information, or information that isn’t in depth enough. You can loose hours on the internet trawling through to find what you need.

Grading a brief (image from van Jonsson Design).

Grading a brief (image from van Jonsson Design).

That was one of the reasons I began to freelance and support start up brands by writing about the technical side of lingerie, something that can be lost and taken over by just the design side.

It’s always lovely to meet fellow freelancer lingerie designers, there’s not many people out there you can talk about volumes of cups or debating how much the apex of a bra can grade by, but Kim from Kimbralisa (and Bra tutor) can talk about lingerie with such passion and knowledge that it’s encouraging to hear another person speak out about the technical side of lingerie without overwhelming you. (Kim usually does a live talk on Facebook and Instagram at 2pm GMT).

I caught up with her an put forward seven question to learn a bit more about what she does and what she can offer start up designers.



kim from kimbralisa

1. What year did you start on your own?

I started offering freelance services as 'Kimbralisa' in 2017. 


2. What's your most favourite part of working in the industry (technical side, designing, seeing a whole project through etc)?

I really enjoy the technical side of things like the pattern cutting and grading, as it's such an interesting challenge. I like experimenting with things in CAD and testing out the fit on the body to see what works, and what doesn't work. Getting feedback from customers after a product has launched is definitely the most rewarding part of the process. 


3. Did you have any formal lingerie design?

I started my career initially as a bra fitter and sewing bra alterations all the way back in 2002, then progressed to learn how to make bras at home before deciding to enroll on the Contour Fashion course at De Montfort University. Always more keen to know how things are made, I focused my studies on pattern cutting and understanding grading and CAD systems, rather than drawing and designing. 


4. What three things did you find hard when starting out?

Managing my time as a freelancer, securing new clients and finding my confidence. These three things are still challenges I constantly encounter. 



5. What services do you offer people?

With my broad experience, I can offer people anything from quick consulting calls to taking on the entire product development process, from finessing an idea all the way to delivering a finished garment in their hands. My previous retail experience and marketing career also come in very handy for small brands needing help understanding other areas of their businesses. 


6. Where do you see yourself in five years time in the industry?

If I could choose anything, it'd be helping brands develop new and exciting products for the G+ market. I think it's a segment of the market with tremendous growth opportunity as regions become more aware of bra size and fit, and it has the technical challenges that I enjoy. I also want to focus on education and training for young designers and startup brands to ensure they're getting the support they need to build better bras for their markets. 


7. What words of advice would you give aspiring designers?

My best advice is to learn as much as you can but to keep your focus on a select few areas. You can't master everything, so choose to excel in one to two key areas, and grow from there as you uncover your passions. If you want to be a designer, then understand trends and colour, and how to communicate these through your illustrations. If you want to be a pattern cutter and grader, you need to understand fit and construction and start making garments. These are very generalist statements, but sometimes, just getting started can seem overwhelming, so start with the one area that interests you and let it expand from there. 




Website: https://kimbralisa.com & https://bratutor.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimbralisa/ & https://www.instagram.com/bratutor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kimbralisa.design & https://www.facebook.com/bratutor




When to give up on a design

Let's talk about quitting on a design, or shelving it for a later time. That design you've invested so much time to, the one which is about finished and if you just maybe work on it for a bit longer give it that final push you can move on to another design right?

Yes? No? Maybe?

This is always a hard one for me, there's the logical aspect of designing and timing then there's the designing which feels right, where you can lose time, get in the flow. I usually follow the second aspect though my head screams at me sometimes, just commit to this idea, it's nearly finished.

I'm there right now, the Harper soft bra, is a pattern I produced last year. I've spent hours on it, making it, fitting it, re-making it, re-fitting it. Changing the pattern so the seam which when into the apex now goes into the underarm for easy sewing. I've graded it, mapped out the pattern pack, and now just need to draw it up and lay it out. So the hours left to invest in this bra is less than the hours I've already committed to it. 

when to give up on a lingerie design

Yet something isn't right. And I don't know what it is. I've even changed the named the name of this bra pattern, it started out as Hemmie, and now it's Harper - to see if it was that (I know right??)

So I'm pulling it. It's standing in my way of new things. Every time I start a new pattern, I keep thinking of the soft bra pattern that I haven't finished. Just get it out the way then I can move on my brain thinks. But every time I head back to it, every alteration is slow, every sewing procedure stalls.  

I've learnt through experience that when this happens, it's best to shelve it. Not get rid. Just put it away ready to head back to it if I so desire. It's by making this choice that I can embrace new patterns to make available, that my work can hopefully speed up to the level I like to work at. 

It's hard letting go of something you've invested so much time to, but once you make that decision, a whole lot of new opportunities become available.

Try it. What have you been stalling on?