Curve NY August 2009 photo by Larry Baglio
BTS guy: Everyone loves the name Between the Sheets, tell us where and how did the name come to you?
Layla: Well the first year we did the show, I wanted to come up with a good name. At first we said we wanted it to be all about New York fashion, and then I said, “It’s New York fashion- Between the Sheets“. Eventually it became just Between the Sheets, and then BTS… it’s all history from there!
BTS guy: Why start your own company? What made you want to leave your job and start this as a manufacturing business, did you not like designing for other people?
Layla: Not at all! I loved working on the brands I was working for, but there was always the dream of following my gut and making it on my own. I don’t know if I have something to prove to anyone else, but I definitely had something to prove to myself. I always pictured starting this being a lot of work… and investment, and oh my god it is, and more.
BTS guy: What was hard, I mean we watch shows on TV where they make evening gowns in a day or two, what’s the difference?
Layla: Well first, making headway with vendors and suppliers was a totally different experience on my own than as a representative of a big company. I’ve been so happy to have found the vendors that are willing to work with me, I mean it’s not like I don’t pay for what I get, but you’d be surprised how some will nickel and dime you for a sample of a bow for your library! I have to spend money to make money, but it was hard at first finding a lot of people wanted me to spend money where I knew it wasn’t needed. My experience in the industry definitely helped weed out which ones were serious about selling and would make good partners for future production.
Second, the steps you take to design a collection and bring it to production at a large fashion company are totally different than what you do as a small designer. Especially as a startup! I worked on start up brands where it seemed like the resources poured in were so out of sync with what the sales were in the first season, and even in the first couple of years. (really my only experiences in the industry were on start-ups or re-launches, I guess my entrepreneurial spirit worked well in that type of environment) In starting my own business I have done so much more myself and utilized all my skills to the fullest. I design, merchandise, pattern, drape, sew… and this has been a huge asset. My education at FIT was what gave me that ability. I don’t think everyone necessarily got that experience, but I definitely challenged myself throughout school by starting the BTS fashion show I committed myself to making a full 10 look collection while taking 22 credits and interning! I look back and don’t always know how it all came together… and I’m sure I’ll look back on these days and think the same.
behind the scenes, dressing Lau photo by Larry Baglio
Finally, I think emotionally it’s been hardest, especially with such a product development heavy industry where you work up to a year and a half out and don’t see any return! I mean, the emotional toll of that is in managing the stress. I knew it would be, but it’s another thing to almost be at the proverbial finish line and know you have to speed up and run to make it across… digging deep and finding that energy somewhere within. I don’t think there’s ever a true finish line in fashion, the moment you are done with one season you move on to the next! AND in reality you are really working on at least three seasons at once (design on one, sales on the next, production on the closest to shipping). As an entrepreneur you also have to deal with the numbers of how you’re going to keep it all growing… it’s daunting sometimes. I’m one of the hardest parts right now, the waiting/prep in between showing our first season and getting around to the first round of production, some days it’s just crazy busy, others agonizingly slow- makes life feel like a roller coaster!
BTS guy: WOW, well I’m not surprised, I knew what you do I get to see it everyday! 😉 What do you do to relax?
Layla: Huh?! What’s that? Lol Sadly I think focusing, buckling down, and working make me feel relaxed. I think I’m officially a workaholic. I think when the worst is over I’ll enjoy just reading, watching a movie, going out to brunch once in a while.
BTS guy:: Where do you find inspiration for your designs, what were your thoughts behind the brands? And really… why two brands?
Layla: For the shows I took inspiration from a lot of sources, for creating the lines I took a totally different approach. For Between the Sheets Collection I started with fabrics that I knew would be amazing to wear, trims that would feel good against the skin, and colors that were wearable across a wide range of skin tones. Then I worked on merchandising the line with a range of styles that would fit & flatter a wide range of body types. I wanted Between the Sheets Collection to really hit the widest audience/consumer.
I think the Layla L’obatti for Between the Sheets range was just an opportunity for me to show what I could really do, with amazing ingredients and smart design I think I’m proud of the crafstmanship and ingenuity of this range. I was really inspired by vintage pieces I had seen at a show here in New York a while back, and really lace is inspiring, knowing all the ways it can be applied and showed off is how I got started on designing these pieces. Each one is truly unique, and I think they will end up being heirloom pieces that are passed on. They really are unique.
Really the line I hope most women will wear/afford is Between the Sheets Collection. I really live in loungepants, shorts, camis, and soft bras, but I wanted things that were neither ruffly nor the basic black. I think I came up with a fun line that can mix and match and that won’t overpower your own beauty. One thing I learned from working with so many great designers and models during the Between the Sheets fashion shows was that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
another great shot of Lau from our S/S 10 shoot by Larry Baglio
BTS guy: Why not go plus size then?
Layla: I wish I could go to larger sizes, but it’s hard to justify those up front costs when just getting started. Also, if I were to do it I would want to do it right, meaning develop a line that was cut to fit plus sizes specifically. The shapes and lines are different, and I definitely see myself doing that in the future.
BTS guy: Why call yourself BTS girl… why not just write as Layla.
Layla: : well, this brand it’s really not about me. Maybe that’s another reason I started the Layla L’obatti range, because that is more personal… but for Between the Sheets we are all different “Between the Sheets” and this is just the voice/name I use to convey that personality on the web. I’m kind of obsessed with social/viral marketing too, and in doing that I think a good name does wonders.
BTS guy: I know you have big dreams for this… where do you see it going?
Layla: Ha, if I could only begin… I see soaps, candles, what else… I don’t know! The possibilities are endless, but let’s just get through this first step! I want people to be excited at each turn to see what we’re doing next. As a designer I have many more tricks up my sleeve, many new ideas to share. As an entrepreneur I’ll make sure to keep it all making sense within the larger scope of our brand… and if the brand isn’t big enough to handle all my ideas I’ll just start another one!
behind the scenes with a new shoot from Bob Nittoli…
we’ll show you closer to the holidays when this designer range hits stores!
BTS guy: We’ve had people asking for product now, what do you want to tell them?
Layla: Don’t worry!!! We’ll be out to you soon enough, I know it won’t be in time for the holidays and trust me I’m disappointed about the timing too, it sucks to hear people say they want it now and not to have it! I hope you’re all around in late January and ready to snap it up as soon as the stores put it up on the shelves! I’ll be traveling and doing trunk shows for whoever will have me, and I want to hear if you love it, hate it, or whatever! So be patient, we should hit stores as early as late January/February. Oh, and we do have some earlier deliveries of Layla L’obatti scheduled… I’ll keep you posted!
BTS guy: random question of the day- what’s your biggest underwear pet/peeve?
Layla: Well since I started shopping fabrics for the line I am sort of annoyed at how thin lounge pants are! I mean, no girl is totally cool with her body, but those thin materials are not flattering… not to mention when coupled with VPL [visible panty line]! I think I would say thin/see through lounge pants.