MEET-UP MONDAY // Karolina Stysiak

There are many ways individuals can make others fall in love with themselves and be confident in their own skin. Today, so many coaches are warranted for the great work they do with people wanting to supercharge their life. I am most interested in the subtle ways that individuals are working to increase self-worth in others. Meeting with Karolina and learning how she is using lingerie to inspire, empower and instil value in women has been on my agenda for some time now! I am so excited to share Karolina’s work and wise words with you and hope you leave a little more inspired and open to knew ways of creating a sense of value and self-love in YOUR life. Karolina’s brand is evoking sensualness in so many women, including myself, and the expression of her values in her work is moving and amazing and game-changing.

So tell us a little about Karolina Couture…
Karolina Couture Lingerie is a luxury handmade lingerie label designed and made in Perth. The concept behind the brand is making women look and feel like the exceptional women they are. I’m very much about supporting other women and creating a sense of value and self love. There are so many absolutely astounding women out there who have no idea how incredible they are. It’s time they realise this and celebrate it.

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Was there a defining moment in which you decided to take the big leap and start your own business?
I’d always wanted to have my own business and I studied fashion a while ago with the plan of starting my own label when I was ready. I was working full time and I had given myself a time limit of when I wanted to quit and start my business. I’ve always loved gorgeous lingerie and I noticed that there wasn’t much on offer in Perth besides the mainstream brands. I would always search for something different and special and when I saw what was available overseas I thought why don’t we have that here? I don’t know that there was a really a defining moment as such, it was more gradual but there came a point where I thought, why don’t I start a lingerie label and make the things I wish I could buy. I thought there must be other women wanting the same thing. Lingerie combined my love of detail, celebrating the female form, using exquisite silks and lace and is something I bought more of than clothes or shoes. I was talking about it to anyone and everyone for about three years whilst learning and researching. I decided I need to stop talking about it and start doing it. I was absolutely itching to get stuck into it. After working for a number of small businesses, it was time for me to work on my dream.

How do you feel putting yourself out into the public so openly (and honestly!)?
I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase my work and also open up people’s minds about lingerie. The more I do, the more I realise how differently people view lingerie and how much ground there is still left to cover in terms of informing people about the art form of it. I don’t tend to post much about my private life or myself wearing lingerie as I like being the woman behind the brand and it’s nice to keep that part of my life for me. So in terms of being out there openly and honestly, it’s more about getting my designs, styling and what I believe strongly in to the public such as the importance of valuing ourselves and being exceptional women.

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I am dying to hear your take on lingerie and flaunting sexuality…
I find this is so topical amongst people. I get a little frustrated with the commonly held belief that lingerie is purely a means of showing off your body in order to get sex. I know the media has a lot to answer for when it comes to this so it’s so wonderful to see a strong community of lingerie creators, stylists, bloggers and lovers on social media explaining their viewpoint and what it means to them. I wrote a post about this called ‘Lingerie is not a dirty word’ because unfortunately a lot of people and media still feel uncomfortable with the word because they have such a narrow view of it. To me lingerie is about the woman wearing it. I wear it to make me feel and look good. It’s a confidence booster, it makes me feel feminine and empowered. Wearing high quality, beautiful fabrics against my skin is a daily luxury that I don’t want to go without. And yes of course it makes us feel sexy and incredible, so does a well fitting dress and killer heels but these items are not sexualised as much and are deemed more ‘acceptable’ to be seen as items we wear to attract someone. I have no issue with women wearing lingerie for their partner in fact I encourage it, but first and foremost always wear it for you. It should be a reflection of your personality and what you love, and you should be wearing it to make yourself feel fantastic. It’s not about making someone else feel good nor should your choice be about what you think someone else likes.

What advice would you give someone wanting to take a risk and follow their passion?
I would say really narrow in on what it is exactly that you want to do and then do your research. Work out what makes your passion unique and make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Doing something purely to make money is not following your passion and it will show to your customers. Be genuine, learn as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you decide it’s really what you want to pursue and you are committed to putting in the energy, dedication and work that is necessary, then go for it!

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What inspires you?
I get inspired by a whole myriad of things. Travel is always a good eye opener, I can see beauty in seemingly everyday objects I couldn’t see when too wrapped up in my day to day life. A whole design can also come together just from spotting a gorgeous lace or trim. And music, films and books give much food for thought. I’m big on stories. The ones that make you re-think your stance or widen your perspective. I find creative mediums stir emotions in me that I like to explore. Lately the inspiration has been coming from some incredible women I’ve met that embody the spirit of Karolina Couture Lingerie. Talking to these women drives me like nothing else. They are one of the major reasons I am designing and making lingerie and I have absolutely no doubt that they are women that are going to change the world for the better. What could possibly be more inspiring?!

What is wellness to you?
Wellness is being healthy inside and out. It’s really important to feel a sense of peace and happiness in ourselves and not feel like we are just coping. Taking the time to relax, have time alone away from the noise of social media is needed. I also put a lot of value into what I put into my body. Heavily processed foods and junk food do not really interest me. Yes I have the occasional indulgence in these but I actually do prefer homemade goodness. I love organic teas, fruit and vegetables and organic meat from the farmers market. It makes a difference to how things taste and when they taste this good you feel nourished and don’t crave junk food. Exercise is also key. Even just going for walk a day refreshes you and gives you your daily exercise. It stimulates your mind and makes you work better. To me, the ultimate feeling of wellness is feeling completely relaxed, capable and happy without forcing yourself to feel this way.

How do you find balance?
Balance is always a tricky one for me and I’m still trying to get on top of it. At the moment I’ve given myself a bit of a daily routine to manage myself better. Things that I find need to always be in my life to maintain a happy equilibrium are time for myself doing what I love that isn’t work related such as reading a novel, completing a crossword puzzle or cooking. I also need time to just chill out or go on dates with my partner, and time to talk to and also go out and see my friends and family. Besides that, going for a run each day to make sure I get some exercise and knowing when to switch the computer or sewing machine off. Rest and sleep are essential as are days off. I still have a long way to go as I’m a bit of a workaholic but I’m self aware and trying to improve.

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What does a day in the life of Karolina look like?
My days are pretty varied due to the nature of my work and because I have so many different things to stay on top of. I’m not much of an early morning person but I like the feeling I have when I see how much I’ve already completed by midday. And it’s so peaceful in the morning before all the emails and messages start coming in so I can work without distractions. I’ve taken some advice I read about which was in order to feel like you are achieving things, don’t give yourself too many things to do in one day otherwise you just end up feeling like you didn’t achieve anything. So I give myself three main tasks that need to be completed. If I finish these and have time to spare, great! I can get onto the lower priority items or slot in some emails I need to reply to ect. What I’ve tried to set out is a couple of hours in the morning answering and writing emails, and doing any computer related activity. Then work on product development and sewing orders or new designs during the day. In the late afternoon/evening I’m back on the computer. Then out for a run before dinner time. On any given day I may need to quickly send lingerie to a magazine to make it for an editorial deadline or work on an urgent order that’s come through. I also have days where I’m draping a new design on a mannequin and I get completely lost in it, losing all sense of time because I’m so inspired and can’t wait to finish and I love having days like this. Some nights I do admittedly spend scrolling through Instagram and chatting to friends that live interstate until late, otherwise I’m in bed with a book before hitting the pillow.

Wow, I am leaving a little wiser and more open now! Thanks so much for stopping by Karolina!

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For more information and to peruse Karolina’s amazing lingerie, see http://karolinacouture.com.au/

Claire Hargreaves