Make the most of your time

Whether you have to juggle full time work with working on your dream job in your spare time or whether you're juggling work with looking after children, time is something that seems to slip away. Over the years I've found what works for me. A question I got asked recently is how do I fit everything in so I thought I'd share an insight into how I manage it all.

I am a list maker, if i have it written down on paper what I have to do then it's out of my head and then when I get to my desk I know exactly what I have to do.

Usually what stops us is the thought that we'd never finish what we need to do in one sitting. Too often we have a list of projects we need to complete rather than list of tasks. 

After making my list I now break each part down into tasks - a task I class as completing in a certain amount of time - mine is anywhere from 15-25 mins. Before I had distractions (i.e. children) I would just work through each part of the list but give myself only 30 mins which made sure I had to concentrate and just go for it. Nowadays though each part is broken down so when I reach my desk I know exactly what I have to do. I now aim for the completion of at least five things (tasks) on my list which is do-able and makes me feel like I've completed something and moved closer to my goal/dream, even on the days when it feels like I'm getting nowhere. 

For example - if I'm designing a new style of brief and need to make a sample, on my list would be: Make brief sample - a way to break that down would be:

- cut front, cut back, cut gusset, sew gusset in, sew side seam, attach elastic to leg, attach elastic to leg, attach elastic to waist, trim. 

So if you follow the five-a-day task completing, that sample of briefs that you want to make, will be completed in two days, and you've been probably putting it off for weeks. Also by breaking everything down you can see where you either need more help in a certain area, or if you have to complete something else first - like buying elastic.

If you're still having trouble making time, sit down and re-draft where you want to be, by focusing on the end point, it can keep you going when everything seems to be going slowly or wrong! Remember a year will pass whether you are working towards something or not, better to be closer to our dream than stood with just your thoughts of where you want to be.

Below is an example of how my diary looks most weeks. It includes all work for the week, personal things I need to complete and also the time in which I spend on clients work.

make most your time designing

START your lingerie label - use the resources you have

A tidy up around the office led me to find the first copy of the book "How to become a Lingerie Designer" and let me remember how far I had come with this business, and how it all started, telling people that I was going to write a book before I had even attempted or started it.

I think that we all need to be reminded that sometimes you need to remember you have all the resources to need to start. If you are waiting for your life to be less busy, have more money, more time, better ideas or more experience then you are forever going to be waiting. It's been seven years from when I first started to write "How to become a Lingerie Designer" and if I had of waited for conditions to be right then I would have just been seven years older. Full stop.

The truth is there is never enough time and the timing will never be right. Fact. You never see what goes on behind someone's creation of their work, you just see a finished product and wish you had the resources to be where they are. Well you do.

Use the resources you already have

I had the idea for the book for 2009 and it took me three years of writing, re-writing it, and questioning myself over it. Working in a non lingerie based job and writing before or after work. 2012 came around and I got sponsorship to move to Melbourne, Australia to lingerie design, so new country, new work, shock to the system about my lack of internet where I lived, but I managed to finish the book. Now what? Keep going. Yes it's hard, yes you may want to stop, yes you may question it all and problems will occur that you think you don't know how to solve but remember....

Use the resources you already have

being a lingerie designer using resources you have

For example: I needed a front cover and didn't really know anyone enough in Australia to design me one - so I used a model shot I had previously done from my label and the wording - well in all honestly there are fridge magnets, I wrote "How to become a Lingerie Designer" on the fridge, took a picture and then used photoshop.  Not the idea I had in mind when I first started the book, but since then I've been able to get the book re-drafted, and have a new shiny front cover which is more in line of the ethos of the brand and far more professional, but if I hadn't have started and kept going, I would never have been able to update, re-brand and write more books, I would have just been looking for more time, more money and more ideas to write the first. 

Your lingerie label that you keep wanting to start, will always be in the future if you don't simply don't start it, be that either ordering fabrics, practising sewing, or attempting to make a pattern. It's easier to keep things moving than it is to start, so if you start tonight - well you've done the hard part.

*How to become a lingerie designer"  book available here




Six traits successful lingerie designers have in common

Lingerie Edit contacted me and asked me to do a piece on becoming a Lingerie Designer, so I thought I'd take you through the six traits which I think successful lingerie designers have.

Below is a copy of the piece.....

Author of ‘How To Become A Lingerie Designer’, Laurie van Jonsson had an un-extraordinary start to her lingerie design career; graduating with a BA HONS in Fashion & Textiles in 2000 she went on to run a successful lingerie brand. Everything was text-book perfect. Until life took a rather extraordinary turn and Laurie found herself at a career cross road. Today, she is sharing with you some of her personal experiences in the industry, some start-up brand top tips, and, six things you NEED to become a successful lingerie designer…

So, you have an idea that you think will change the world of lingerie. Or, you are simply so infatuated with lingerie that you dream, sleep and want to design it.

How do you become a Lingerie Designer and showcase your brand at Lingerie shows like The Lingerie Edit? Do you need any sewing experience? Do you need the ability to draw? Do you need any knowledge of the industry? Where do you start?

Before I answer those questions, let’s go back a few steps. From my experience of running my own brand, freelancing for start ups, providing one-to-one tuition and giving talks in universities; I have noticed that those who make it tend to have a six things in common.

Have a PLAN

So where do you start? The main advice I give to people is to start out with a plan; something written down that can start you on your path to achieve your dreams.

My plan/my dream was to have my own label and I started on the very traditional route – I studied contour at Demontfort University, then worked in a UK manufacturer design studio designing for UK high streets. Then from working abroad I went on to produce my own label Vanjo catering for smaller backs and bigger boobs.

After 8 years of dreaming of my label I finally had it. I worked feverishly to grow the brand and then it seemed I had hit all my goals. I don’t say this to be big-headed, I say this as a warning; keep extending your plan, always have a bigger dream. I went on to close down my label as I had arrived at crossroads where my brand was too big for just me but maybe too small to extend – I didn’t know as I didn’t have a strategy.

Make a plan of all the things you need to know and research, read, attend shows, attend workshops and if you don’t have the ability in a certain section, seek out a professional to help you.


Do your research – what do you like or don’t like about the lingerie that is already out there? What will your brand offer? What value are you adding to the market? Working out exactly what your brand is or offering, will save you time and money and give you a stronger sense of your brand.

You will never conquer TIME

This is still one I struggle with, I have a list of all the things I want to complete (my plan!!), a list that I map out in my diary. And whilst I hit the majority of my timeline, many things slip through and get pushed further and further back.

Life happens; new projects take over, other work is done so bills can be paid. For example before my son was born I wrote a three part book series, ‘How to spec a Bra and Brief,’ ‘How write a Bra and Brief tech pack’ and ‘How to grade a Bra and Brief,’ I just needed to add all the diagrams, edit and artwork the book. My son turns two at the start of the New Year and it’s only just the second book that’s about to be released.

As I’m doing other things though, I never panic about it, I know from my plan how to get there, and it’s a question of my timing and work timing and trying to get the two of them to meet. Talk to any independent lingerie brand, and I bet all of them will tell you that it took a lot longer than they thought to get where they are now.

Remember there are no shorts cuts to any place worth going.


I work a lot with start up brands or do one-to-one tutorials with people wanting to start their own brand. Those who I meet, that have sorted fabrics; have made a few contacts, or know the difference between a zig-zag stitch and straight stitch are more likely to get further, than the ones I meet, that just have a vague sketch and no idea of which direction they want to end up in.


Feel it and take a LEAP

Sometimes you have to take a leap, you’ve followed the first point and got that plan – great, but now I’m throwing you a curve ball, all that planning will hold you in good stead when you land that first gig but sometimes you just have to feel it and go for it.

Its time to take action, remember you only have to know how to take the next step, if you go in a different direction than your plan, change it. It doesn’t have to be drastic actions, it could be ordering fabric, attending a show, making a contact but it has to be some action.

Though when you do take drastic leaps the world does become better place, you are pushed out of your comfort zone and you have to keep going.

The two major times in my life I’ve taken that leap.

1. Selling my house, quitting my design job and buying a one-way ticket to Thailand, I just thought I’d travel, return back and get a job. I ended up not returning to live in England for 10 years and worked around the world designing for different lingerie companies.

2. Closing down Vanjo – this was such a hard one, with no plan to hand I did so many brainstorms, and pros and cons lists that it made my head spin. Upon answering yet another email from a person asking me how I started my brand and for advice, I realised that there wasn’t anything out there at the time regarding lingerie, there was plenty of Fashion start up books but not lingerie.

I closed down Vanjo, moved in with a friend, took a part time job at Urban Outfitters and began to write. Six months was my plan, but that pesky thing called time got me again, re-writing, researching, and doing interviews with other UK brands meant the book was another three years in the making. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that, keep going, time will pass no matter what, so you might as well be working towards something amazing.

Surround yourself with INSPIRATION

Inspirational words can get you through times of doubt, look on Instagram and you’ll see quotes or inspirational words appear on many designer’s feeds. At my desk I personally have these:

Dare to be you?

Come to the cliffs he said.

They said – we are afraid.

Come to the cliff he said.

They came.

He pushed them. And they flew.

-Guillaume Apollinaire

And in brief the answers to those questions previously –

1. Do you need any sewing experience? No

2. Do you need the ability to draw? No

3. Do you need any knowledge of the industry? Learn as much as you can.

4. Where do you start? Those wishing to start and know more about becoming a Lingerie Designer, but don’t know where to start the website has tips, trends and tutorials covering all aspects of the lingerie industry. Also the books are available to buy to get you started.