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Good Housekeeping Interview

Thursday Aug 06 2015

Our founder and designer Leanna has been profiled in the September 2015 issue of Britain's bestselling lifestyle magazine, Good Housekeeping, in a feature all about overcoming adversity to reach your dreams. For the full feature, see the magazine (available throughout August) or see below for the story behind the beginnings of Harlow & Fox.

"I loved my job as a registrar. I registered births, deaths and marriages and felt so lucky to be connected to these moving occasions. So I was distraught when government cuts meant I was made redundant. Suddenly, it didn't matter how hard I'd worked - I felt completely powerless. My family were supportive, but I felt lost. 

I wanted to make sure this never happened again, which drove me to think about setting up my own business. I've always had an adventurous spirit, and it felt like this would allow me to take charge of my life. It was daunting, but less scary than having someone else dictating my fate.

I knew that if I was going to take all this risk, it has to be for something I was passionate about. I'd always loved lingerie, it has the power to make you feel like a different person. At 32G, I struggled to find my size in luxury stores. Frustrated, I realised I couldn't be the only woman with large breasts who wants to wear something truly beautiful.

I'd never been to fashion college, so it felt like I was facing a huge wall. The scariest thing was not knowing what I didn't know! I took a couple of lingerie design courses and started researching. I found my pattern cutter, Catherine, and she introduced me to others who could help. It's a small industry, and if you're honest about needing advice, people are happy to help.

Harlow & Fox started trading in November 2013. I chose a name that felt like the products we were offering: traditional, elegant and sophisticated. A year later, I was sitting at the UK Lingerie Awards after being shortlisted for Full Bust Brand of the Year. I couldn't believe it when my name was announced as winner.

There are hard days, and I'm still learning from my mistakes. But the more dead ends you go down, the closer you come to finding the right path. Being made redundant taught me not to fear failure. When I face problems now, I think; I got through that, so I can get through this. 

I loved my old job, but there wasn't any further for it to go. Now, I'm doing something amazing every day. It's more than just work: it's the people I've met and seeing a product go from my vision to something worn by a real woman. I've learnt that as long as you're passionate, even if you don't end up where you plan to, it will be somewhere good."