Another Beautiful, Organic Cotton Bra Exclusive to FaeriesDance.com

I’m so excited to introduce the exclusive, limited edition:

In addition to working with Love Nature in Italy on our exclusive distribution arrangement, we’ve also been working with Occidente in France.  Occidente’s line is a bit more whimsical.  They have fun, fresh lingerie more suited to special occasions rather than everyday basics.

We fell in love with the outline of this underwire bra with tie straps, and had them design one for us with the lovely butterfly fabric (GOTS certified, of course) from our favorite Forest Faery Dress.  (And what better item to wear it with?)

The only downside is that it is a limited edition.  So once they’re gone… well, you know.

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FaeriesDance.com to be the Exclusive Distributor for Love Nature Organic Bras and Panties

In February we announced that Love Nature was rethinking their line and might discontinue production.  Months later, with a lot of negotiation, I’m extremely excited to announce that FaeriesDance.com will be exclusively selling a limited selection of Love Nature favorites.

Our agreement spans 5 organic cotton bras and 4 panties.  We’ll be getting the largest quantity of the all-time favorite Alba line including:

Two pieces from the Princess Line:

One bra from the Fairy Tale Collection:

And a matching bra and panty set:

  • Daisy Padded Underwire Bra (currently sold out)
  • New bikini style to match this bra

We specifically tried to focus on bras that had features unique to Love Nature.  That’s why 4 of the 5 are their signature organic cotton padded bras with polyester-free, cotton padding.  The Alba No Wire bra, our best-selling bra of all time, rounded out the fifth (shown left).

Love Nature is a subsidiary of the Italian lingerie brand Lormar.  While Lormar has decided not to move forward with Love Nature, they still have access to the production facilities.  The most difficult issue we faced was ensuring that Lormar could still source all of the incredible eco-fabrics that were used in the Love Nature line.  So their production team had to check each style for availability of the fabrics, the cotton paddings and the trims.  That, combined with the high quantities required to produce each style, forced us to stick with just a few designs.

For a small business like ours, the quantities are staggering.  We’re literally getting thousands of bras and hundreds of panties.  Even at our most ambitious growth predictions, we should have stock the next 3 years.  However, this agreement was a one-time only offer from Lormar.  So we don’t expect to be able to restock again once these are gone.

That said, there are a couple of minor negatives.

  • We expect a small price increase due to the high Euro to Dollar rate at the moment and the cost of warehousing all this stock for an extended period.
  • No more cute, embroidered linen drawstring bags.
  • The upfront cost of this endeavor is delaying phase 3 of our in-house manufacturing project.  This means we won’t be producing men’s underwear for a while longer.  Good news, though – we’ve found an excellent alternative for the guys (but that’s a post for another day).
  • Sadly, the other 60+ Love Nature organic lingerie items – including all of those lovely PJs and nighties – are still discontinued.  Don’t wait to get the one you’ve been coveting.

We hope you’ll appreciate our efforts.  The most common complaint we hear is when a favorite staple – be it bras, underwear or socks – becomes unavailable.  Of course, we also hope this will bolster our business for the next few years while we scour the planet for more eco-undies.

We expect these items to be available for sale in October, 2014.

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The First Green Tree Organic Cotton Panties are in!

Green Tree Organic Bikini Panty

We’re so excited to share our new Organic Bikini Panty and Organic Hi Cut Panty.  Both styles are available in five colors from x-small to x-large.

Way back in August of last year I made the decision to have Faerie’s Dance start its own line of organic intimates and loungewear in order to keep consist stock of our highest turnover items.  It took a couple of months to get an ambitious plan in place, but lack of experience and a little bad luck had us riddled with obstacles and delays.  Finally, almost a year after the initial idea was formulated, we have our first 2 styles on sale.  For me, it’s a momentous occasion. 

These two designs are first for one simple reason – we were able to iron out the fit details and get them stylish and comfortable with just 2 rounds of prototyping.  Some of the other styles have been more problematic.  The two printed designs from the original plan are now in their fourth prototype sewing.  But the point is to put out a style that will be comfortable and fun to wear.  So producing something that doesn’t have exactly the right fit isn’t an option.

We’re also still learning some surprising lessons.  For example, some of the colors “behave” differently than others in sewing.  We’ve even found that stretched fabric (it’s stretched a little when it’s rolled into bolts) will “ease” after cutting and sewing.  So you have to adjust the machine tension a little from the first couple of sewing days to the last.  While most of these little details have now been worked out, you will find that there’s a 1/2″ size difference from some colors to others in the same size.  And while that is apparently considered “normal” in sewing, we’re working with our producer to really hit a consistent size, stretch and tension every time so that you as a customer will know exactly what you’re getting.  If you like these panties, we want you to be able to buy them again 3 years from now and get the exact same fit.

At this point, our original Phase 1 and Phase 2 plans have been combined.  We’re currently in varying phases of production on 10 additional pieces including panties with covered elastic, a few sleeker styles, some lace panty versions, a cami with bra, leggings, and a bralette.  Our goal is to put out 2 additional styles approximately every 6-8 weeks.

Once we round out this dozen, hopefully in early 2015, we’ll have professional model photos taken of the entire line.  I apologize that it’s taken so long and am at the same time immensely grateful for all of you who’ve been watching this journey and stuck with us.  We’re offering these first two styles for $1 off for a very short time as a Thank You.  (Oh and quick hint: our 9 year anniversary is coming up soon, so watch for something extra special in the July newsletter.)

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The Zen of Organic Panty Manufacturing

Last August, I announced that Faerie’s Dance would start manufacturing their own line of organic cotton panties.  By October, we’d put a down payment on our fabric and had our first patterns. At the time, I posted that we’d launch those first few designs in late January or February.

It’s April, and many of you (including myself) are wondering, where the heck are these panties?! Good question.  Let’s recap.

When we left the deposit on the fabric, the manufacturer (a small, family-run, GOTS certified manufacturer in India) told me it would be about 60 days to completion.  So I lined up our Stayton, Oregon based seamstress for end of December and our Portland based printer for early January.  And for about 2 or 3 weeks, we were on schedule.

Once we were ready to get our low-impact dyed colors done, I learned I needed the Pantone color numbers to proceed.  I’d already picked the colors to match the latex-free elastic trims.  Unfortunately, the elastic seller wasn’t able to tell me what the Pantone numbers were.   And it turns out, buying what I thought would be a swatch card is actually a reference encyclopedia running about $900.  After a bit of a confusion and scramble, I mailed pieces of elastic to India and they were able to match the colors that way. 

This small glitch put us 2 weeks behind.

Being a small business owner, I’m aware that things can occasionally (read: regularly) go wrong.  So when a machinery part broke down at the fabric manufacturer and they told us (very apologetically) that there would be another two week delay, there really wasn’t much I could do.  (Other than lament that the Hearts A’flutter panties wouldn’t be ready in time for Valentine’s Day.)

At this point, we were 4 weeks behind.

Now, we do a lot of importing.  Our best-selling bra line is from Italy.  When you ship small, lightweight items, they generally need to go by air because there’s not enough weight and/or volume to justify hiring all or part of a sea shipping container.  So I really (really!) should have known better.  But in my excitement of getting our first custom made fabric, I did not account for the time delay of shipping sea versus air.  Air usually takes a week, two tops.  Well for 1300 lbs of fabric, you really can’t ship by air.  (Unless you want to pay a ridiculous amount of money and waste a lot of jet fuel, neither of which are high on my priority list.)  So my allotted “shipping week” was taken over with special forms required for sea shipments.  Then the actual shipping time took an additional 4 weeks.

Suddenly, we were 2 months behind.

Ok, but February 27th is the big day – fabric is arriving!!  I figured a few days for customs clearance, and I would be able to get the fabric to the seamstress first week in March.  I make calls. I schedule.  The fabric arrives!  And I am the lucky winner of a special Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) exam.  If you just clicked that link, yes, the winner of a VACIS exam also wins the right to pay extra for the exam – even if the cargo is deemed legal and no contraband is found.  To make a way-too-long-story short, customs finally released my fabric on the afternoon of April 4th.  They held it more than 5 weeks. My business was required to pay nearly $400 in additional exam fees, and no contraband was found.

Et voilà, we were now 3 months behind.

So I call the seamstress, and guess what?  She’s in the middle of someone else’s project.  This was not at all unexpected, and I was really grateful that she (a small business owner herself) was still willing to work my project in.  I’m sure some of my delays had her scrambling to find other projects.  She worked in all of the sample sewing and fittings (which are now done! yay!); and is able to start full production April 28th.

And just like that, we are 4 months behind.



Jaime, our Patternmaker, verifies the measurements of the first samples


I’d love to offer you all a list of the lessons I’ve learned during this experience, but it’s a blog post, not a novel, and room is limited.  And for the sake of all the issues I still haven’t run into and the fact that I haven’t even called the printer back yet, let’s just call it 5 months behind and hope for a July launch.  Just in case.

That said, the single biggest, most overwhelming, really smack-in-head, light bulb on, ah-ha lesson that I’ve come away with is… humility. 

I am humbled by the efforts of the fabric maker, customs broker, seamstress and patternmaker in support of my project. 

I am grateful to the many customers who’ve asked about the panty status, and who’ve not only been understanding about the delays, but even outraged on my behalf over the extra customs costs.

I am overwhelmed by the vast effort that goes into bringing the simplest of items to market.

And most of all, I am embarrassed by all the times I’ve been frustrated with manufacturers over delays they’ve had.

I’m going to go a little easier on folks from now on, including myself.  How many of you are harder on yourselves than you need to be?

Combining this with the experience of getting judgmental e-mails, I’m going to make an extra effort to be a bit more empathetic all around.

And just like that, I found a little peace through adversity.

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Modal is touted as the new eco-fabric; does it live up to the hype?

I’ve been seeing a lot of eco-fashions made from the new fabric, Modal, recently.  Some of the designs are super cute, but I wanted a little more information before jumping in.  I bet you do, too.  Modal is yet another play on Rayon.  It’s got that fabulous rayon drape and soft, silky feel, but is it sustainable?

I was pleased to learn that Modal was developed by the Austrian company Lenzing, developer of the eco-fabric Tencel. Like Tencel, Modal has earned the European Union EcoLabel for having a reduced environmental impact throughout its life cycle.

Modal comes from Beechwood trees. Beechwoods are self-propagating which means no artificial irrigation or planting is required. More than half of the wood used by Lenzing comes locally from Austria and the remainder is from neighboring countries. All of the beechwood used for Modal comes from forests that follow sustainable harvesting methods.

Notably, Modal is the first fabric considered carbon neutral in its production process.  This is possible due to the generation of excess energy during fabric production and the recovery of component parts of the wood.  Even the pulp production is self-sufficient in terms of energy and is an important supplier of energy for the entire operation. Lenzing also boasts that up to 95% of the production materials are recovered and reused, which sounds very much like a closed-loop production system.

The key part of the production cycle is Lenzing’s Edelweiss technology: oxygen-based chemistry that eliminates the need for harsh and/or toxic production chemicals.

In summary, Modal passes the environmental criteria we set out to meet: sustainable input materials, very low waste production and no harsh or toxic chemicals.  Of course, we also source clothing from manufacturers who use low-impact dyes on the fabric and do not add harsh finishing agents.  With that in mind, our first Modal-based garments are now in and this batch has the bonus of all being designed and sewn in the USA.  Like Tencel, we still plan on using the fabric sparingly in our offerings; but a few awesome pieces are sure to add a bit of variety to your wardrobe.

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Organic Cotton Panty Update – Status of Our New Endeavor

In the back of my head, I’d wanted to start my own organic clothing “brand” for some time now.  But it took repeated loss of some of our best selling items for me to finally take the plunge.  I have to say, my initial trepidation was not wholly unfounded.  Designing and manufacturing are a completely different animal than retailing.  There has been so much to learn, including a whole new vocabulary that I was completely unfamiliar with.  Not unexpectedly, spending nearly 3 months focused on learning something entirely new and thus not spending that time on marketing, press releases, creative newsletters, web updates and other normal business tasks has had its effect on sales.

However, my SO has likened the effort to that of a trebuchet being loaded.  While I at first thought he was nuts, I loved his explanation of the slow crank of the trebuchet actually moving the (let’s call it) stone-of-progress away from the goal only to eventually slingshot it forward all in a massive rush.  Being tickled by fantasy novels, Renaissance Faires and period movies, the trebuchet imagery makes me smile and keeps me turning that crank.

While it looks like my goal of having the first organic cotton panties for sale before the holidays is definitely not going to happen, we’re now far enough along that I can provide some details of what’s coming.  Here’s what we’ve got so far…

There are still some vagaries in the schedule that could cause even more delays, but if all goes well, the initial launch of our new brand, Green Tree Organic Clothing, will be in early 2014.  The roll-out of products will be in 3 phases spanning the entire year.

Phase 1: Five panty designs derived from previous best-sellers and a little inspiration, launching in January or February 2014

Phase 2: The addition of panties with lace trims, probably a thong style and possibly our first sports bra and/or cami – some time in Summer

Phase 3: Men’s underwear and whatever else on our list people have been asking for – maybe a simple unisex tee in more color options – hopefully in early Fall

Phases 2 and 3 are *very* vague still and could change.  Phase 1 however, is really coming together.  Here’s what to expect.

Classic Bikini

A Classic Bikini and a Hi Cut Brief in 5 colors (black, sweet pink, deep plum [bordeaux], white and undyed natural).  Taking heed of feedback we’ve had on these styles, we’ve kept the same basic shape, but are using a slightly heavier fabric that will not only make these softer, but should also make them last longer. I’ve heard and experienced that the versions we currently carry get threadbare faster than some of the other styles. The new fabric has more cotton per square inch, and while it’s a tad more expensive, it should alleviate that issue.  We’ve kept the same fold-over elastic styling that does touch the skin, but are using a latex-free version making them accessible to more customers.

Hi Cut Brief

For those with more acute sensitivities, we’ll have a Hipster style with completely covered elastic in black and undyed natural and have changed the design to include flat seam stitching for more comfort.

Hipster

The last 2 are really fun styles and my personal favorites.  We’re recreating the printed Eat Organic bikini from years ago and also adding a new printed style called Hearts A Flutter, which will be fun all year round and make a  particularly awesome Valentine’s gift.  The body is a bikini/hipster hybrid similar to the Contrast Trim Bikini.

Printed Panty Body

I wanted to do the whole process right here in Oregon to keep it local and have more control over the quality.  I mostly succeeded.  The designs and pattern making were done in Portland.  Tags are being produced in Portland as well.  The cutting and sewing are being done about an hour away in Stanton, Oregon by a family-run shop that’s been in business for more than 20 years.  Both the Pattern maker and cut and sew house are very small, home-based businesses just like Faerie’s Dance.  I had to outsource the elastics and after a ridiculous amount of research and time, decided to have our organic cotton fabrics custom made in India.

While I had hoped to find a US-based fabric manufacturer, I found that the minimum orders for each color were substantially higher in the USA.  More importantly, even though they were knitting here, all of the certified organic cotton was coming from Turkey or India anyway.  (The USA does not grow enough organic cotton to meet its own usage.) By having it knit at the source I was able to get original documentation of the GOTS certification, work directly with a family-owned fabric maker who also does herbal dyeing (a good resource for future projects), and have the fabric made at a reduced price with substantially lower minimum quantities.  In the USA, only 2 colors would have been feasible on the same upfront investment.

So that’s where we are so far.  I hope some of you find this useful.  I’ve heard a lot of suggestions already for Phases 2 and 3, but please keep them coming.  The point is to design and manufacture what you are looking for, so please let us know.

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The End of Bgreen or Where Have All the Organic Panties Gone?

In the last few years, we have continued to lose best-selling panty styles.  First the cheeky Eat Organic bikini creators moved on to other ventures.  Then the whole line of PantyBoo bamboo underwear was discontinued.  Perfectly Imperfect, with their adorable lace-trimmed organic cotton panties and cross-your-heart thongs, went out of business.  Ecoland got mired in manufacturing issues and has not re-made their very popular hipster 2-pack in over a year.  The Love Nature Alba Bikini gave way to the more expensive ribbed version.  And finally, we’ve just lost our bgreen account.

After we’d been a wholesale client with bgreen for about 4 years, they decided to start selling retail.  Sadly, a few years on and they’ve now decided they can earn more money and better control pricing along with how their brand is portrayed by ONLY selling retail.  And alas, we can no longer restock any of their products including our #1 bestselling item in the entire store for the last 3 years running – the organic cotton Classic Bikini. 

As a quick side note, I have a lot of respect for bgreen.  They’re a vertically-integrated, eco-manufacturer working entirely in the USA and that’s really commendable.  However, one of the reasons they have a solid brand that they are concerned about maintaining a good reputation for, is that small businesses like mine have been selling and promoting their products and brand for many years.  So being cut out as it were, is very disheartening.

Over the course of the last 7 years, we’ve brought in a whopping 105 different styles of women’s panties. 37 are already permanently gone and 27 of the ones we’re still offering cannot be restocked.  And while my Things To Do List is already quite full, I’ve decided to make designing and launching our own organic panty line a priority.  I’m looking into branding it with a different name, (because I don’t think when we get to men’s underwear many of them will want to wear boxers labeled “Faerie’s Dance”… 🙂 and am hoping to launch the first couple of styles before the holidays if everything goes smoothly.

It will likely take more than a little while to bring in all the styles, fabrics and designs I’ve got in mind.  But the patterns and specs for the first two panties are complete and fabric samples are now rolling in. Thank you all for your continued patronage.  I hope you’ll love the new panties and look forward to getting started on this new venture.

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Get an Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift: Sundrop Jewelry Give-a-way

We’re thrilled with our newest line of recycled glass line from Sundrop Jewelry.  While Smart Glass offers somewhat more artistic styling, Sundrop is simple and classy with a wonderful story behind it that will have you talking about your earrings to everyone you see.

Sundrop Jewelry makes their unique glass droplets using focused sunshine!  The heat of the sun is focused by a three foot tall magnifying glass (technically a fresnel lens).  Artisans put recycled glass pieces under the concentrated heat and then let gravity form the droplets. 

This creative process is all done right here in the USA in a Minneapolis back yard.  Of course, we love supporting small, eco businesses, so Sunglass Jewelry was an easy choice for us to offer.  Best of all, we’re giving away a matching set of earrings and necklace to one lucky winner for the holidays.  There are 4 color options to choose from.

TO ENTER:  Leave a comment on this blog post by Thursday, December 15, with your e-mail address, phone number or some way for us to get in touch with you.  If you don’t want to leave contact info, you can comment with your name and then e-mail us your contact info.  If we don’t know how to contact you, we can’t give you the prize.  The drawing happens December 16th and will ship as soon as we hear back from the winner.

To really appreciate this great line, take a look at this video of a Sundrop being created.

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Latex-Free, Spandex-Free Organic Cotton Underwear for Allergy Suffers – Give-a-Way!

We’re thrilled to announce a new line of organic cotton underwear purposely designed to help folks with chemical sensitivities and skin contact allergies.  We have 7 products in this new line (2 for men) and we’re giving away a few items for our customers to try out and review! 

Give-a-way 1 – The Allergen-Free Drawstring Bra

This bra is not only latex-free and spandex-free, but it actually contains no elastic whatsoever, using a drawstring design instead to hold it closed.  Sizes are marked 34B, 36B, 38B, 38C, 40C, 42C and 40DD, though the manufacturer claims they run a little on the small side.  We’ll work with you to pick the right size and then hopefully you can provide some feedback on the fit.

Give-a-way 2: The Allergen-Free Front Close Bra

This bra is does contain a small amount of elastic at the straps and under the bust.  However, the elastic is fully covered in organic cotton and contains no latex or spandex.  Sizes again run from 34B – 40DD.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this blog post including an e-mail address or phone number or some way to get in touch with you. (Note, if we can’t figure out how to tell you that you’ve won, we’ll have to pick someone else.) Contest ends Monday, April 25, 2011. Drawing will be held on Tuesday with the winner announced in the comments section.

There will be 2 winners – 1 for each bra. If you only want to be consider for one of the bras, please let us know. Otherwise, everyone gets in the draw for both picks.

Allergen Free Design Features:

  • Latex free and spandex free for sensitive skin
  • Bra #1 is also completely elastic free
  • Bra #2 has hypo-allergenic plastic front closures for easy wear
  • Purified organic cotton process
  • Double-layered cotton lining
  • Covered Seams prevent rubbing and agitation
  • Irritation-Free label for sensitive skin
  • Textile Dye-free & Resin-free for sensitive skin

Please, please pass this contest info along to anyone you know who might have skin contact allergies.  We’re excited to get feedback both from women who just want to try them for fit and also from anyone who really needs the extra attention to what goes into their clothing.

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Organic Cotton, Fair-Trade Soul T Give-a-Way From PrAna

Our first give-a-way of 2011 celebrates the addition of PrAna Clothing to FaeriesDance.com.  PrAna’s newest line introduces the Fair Trade Soul T.
 

TO ENTER:  Leave a comment on this blog post including an e-mail address or phone number or some way to get in touch with you.  (Note, if we can’t figure out how to tell you that you’ve won, we’ll have to pick someone else.)  Contest ends Monday, March 28, 2011.  Drawing will be held on Tuesday with the winner announced in the comments section.

There will be 2 winners – 1 for each color.  If you only want to be consider for one color, let us know.  Otherwise, everyone gets in the draw for both picks.

To date, we’ve focused on smaller eco-designers.  But mid-sized companies like PrAna can make a huge difference with their larger reach.  PrAna has been focusing on sustainability more and more each season with a growing line of organic cotton and recycled apparel.  For Spring 2011, they’re working with the Liberian Women’s Sewing Project to offer a fully Fair Trade Certified women’s T.  Their Fair Trade endeavors will be expanding into Fall 2011, and we couldn’t think of a better time to add their fabulous clothing to our line up.

The many women benefiting from the Liberian Women’s Sewing Project.
Good luck!
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