Julia Church: Empowering Self Love, With Swimwear.

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Like a supportive friend or “a modern Marilyn Monroe”; that is how Canadian swimwear designer, Julia Church, wants her designs to make real women to feel when they’re shopping for swimwear.

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A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, this charismatic owner and designer of Nettle’s Tale swimwear has launched a collection that is targeted at the real beauty of real women. Tired of never fully feeling supported by swimwear lines produced for the masses, Julia brought Nettle’s Tale to life. The designs are produced locally in Vancouver, and intended to fit the unique body shapes of the women who partner with Julia to have their very own swimsuit designed.

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In addition to showing her creative side on the designer front, Julia has some seriously creative business acumen, and has proven how (as a start-up) to successfully execute an inspiring Indiegogo campaign. But enough background, let’s get to the juicy chat we had with Julia.

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SLM: What is your story? How did you get into fashion design?

Julia: I have always loved fashion, well more than fashion…personal style! I am the person who doesn’t care whether all the friends I took shopping are against something I tried on; if I love it enough, I am buying it. They will probably be asking me where I got it a month later—that’s the funny thing about fashion. I’m an improvisational performer and creator at heart, so this role is just wired into who I am as a person. Naturally, I have an incredibly do-it-yourself, spontaneous attitude towards everything in life. So when the idea dawned on me for the story behind the swimwear company, I didn’t overthink it. I literally dove in headfirst with some fabric, the closest women around me I could find (my roommates), and a sewing machine; and began working on the initial designs. I knew the technical brains needed for the process would follow for me.

SLM: What inspired you create Nettle’s Tale?

Julia: For years, I have had business idea after business idea swimming around in this brain of mine. I knew one day I would get an idea that had some depth to it, a meaningful “why” behind the company. A lot of my ideas have been close to this one, actually. Body image, the portrayal of women in society today and throughout history – that has always fascinated me. I think for most women it sometimes hits too close to home. Like many of the women who have become fans of Nettle’s Tale, I too, have had trouble finding swimwear that advocates for my body. When I sewed a replica of a favorite swimsuit (nearly to the point of disintegration), my roommate tried it on and it looked great on her. She felt nothing short of amazing, so I thought to myself: ‘Why are companies not doing more of this?’

SLM: Many aspects of your brand are truly special. What is one thing that you would say is the most important part of your brand?

Julia: That is such a good question! I would say it’s the authenticity (or the honesty) of the brand. In the Nettle’s Tale branding, women are portrayed accurately, doing the things they love. We manufacture and design our suits locally in Vancouver, BC and we invite the women who inspired the designs to pick a charity they are personally passionate about. This charity then receives 10% of the profits of her design.

SLM: How do you want women to feel in your designs?

Julia: I want women to feel that the swimsuit they are wearing doesn’t just make them feel ‘okay’ going out in public; it makes them feel like they’ve just found a new best friend and can’t wait to hit the beach together!

SLM: When you first meet the woman behind your next design, what do you want her to keep in mind when embarking on this project/journey with you?

Julia: I think a really important part of the process is trust. We’re all way too hard on ourselves. As a designer I can be that much-needed fresh perspective. At the same time, I’m not into trying to fight a woman’s insecurities with the design. If she wants a wetsuit because that’s what she will feel amazing in, then let’s make the sickest wetsuit anyone has ever seen! At the end of the day, what I want my customer to keep in mind is: if you want it, we’re going to do whatever we can to make it. And make sure, you feel great in it.

SLM: Tell us your favorite part of the design process.

Julia: There are a few stages that feel like Christmas to me! Getting the first sample in my hand will never get old. It amazes me when concepts floating around in my head become a reality. I also love the photo shoots. These women are always nervous (they’re not models!). However, by the end of the photo shoot, they feel great about themselves. Nothing feels better than being able to give that to another woman.

SLM: When you first launched your Indiegogo campaign, you set out with a goal of raising $10k, and you’ve since blown past this by well over 500%. What advice would you give designers looking to launch an Indiegogo campaign?

Julia: First, I decided to do a campaign because I knew a great videographer, not the other way around. It is amazing how impactful visuals are online. I receive emails all the time asking about things I thought were obvious in text I had written. When you’re sharing an exciting idea, there’s nothing more powerful than visual or a video. Second, I took a financial risk and invested in a PR/Media person I believed in. After our initial success, a lot of other companies came knocking wanting a cut of the campaign to take it farther with the media, but I instead continued to invest locally with the same person who had been with me from the beginning. I soft-launched the campaign the night before and messaged over 100 people that were close friends or had mentioned wanting to buy something and encouraged them to be the “first” to jump on board. This gives your campaign traction from the beginning. Lastly, I kept the campaign active with new images, video posts, and stretch goals with new perks for those who had already contributed.

SLM: What are the top three things you would tell a designer also looking to create and market such a custom collection?

Julia: 1. Find and gather your fan base/tribe. // 2. Focus on the voices of your tribe and be careful not to pay too much attention to the voices that aren’t fans…unless what they are saying is a valuable criticism, because sometimes a fresh perspective can be the most important. // 3. Don’t say, as much do. I can communicate to 30 fans that I am going to add another ethnicity to the shop or short-style bottoms etc., over and over again, or I can just do it. In the end, the customers think, “Wow, a brand that actually listens to me.”

SLM: You’re headed to a tropical paradise for some much needed R&R. What is the one item you can’t imagine leaving behind? Besides an amazing swimsuit, of course!

Julia: Top-notch pair of sunglasses.

SLM: Lastly, when life gives you lemons, you…

Julia: I’m like, “These could make a cute swimsuit print!” Or I could just add some slices to my water to make maintaining a healthy lifestyle a little more interesting.

A Nettle’s Tale from Nettle’s Tale on Vimeo.

Visit Nettle’s Tale at NettlesTale.com. Follow Nettle’s Tale on . Follow Nettle’s Tale on . Follow Nettle’s Tale on .


All Photos Courtesy of Nettle’s Tale

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