As promised, here’s the second of a series of longer Q&As with the designers featured in this week’s fashion issue. More to come!
by Annie Rupp, 31
I started making organic underwear when my daughter potty-trained really young. So I just started making really cute little kids’ underwear and that quickly expanded into adult underwear, and a lot of organic, bamboo cotton. Then I started getting involved with some stretch lace, and then I bought some gold lamé, and everyone just went crazy when I started making swimsuits. I’ve been having a really hard time like getting an inventory, which has been awesome. I just started this spring, in April. I did the fashion show this — er, I wasn’t in the fashion show, but I vended some stuff and it was super fun.
So how do you describe your style?
The swimsuits are kind of a little pinup girl, a little maybe shiny Lycra edgy but kind of something that you can wear and be active in but still look super cute. I do a lot of custom stuff, and custom costumes for Burning Man.
And then the parasols — that was my original idea, like I’m gonna customize parasols, and then I started doing the underwear too. So the parasols, right now, I’m just doing monogram stuff, or if people want — like, I’m doing a bunch of Shady Lady parasols for the fashion show.
Do you have a day job, or is this your job now?
This is mostly my job now. I live on a farm, so I do … I don’t really make any money doing that, but it feels like a lot of work sometimes! And then I’m at home with my daughter all the time. So this is something — I really wanted something I could make money doing with her. … It’s been awesome.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I like the old style of pinup girls a little bit. I don’t know. Sometimes I’ll just start with a vision and then the actual suit I finish with is so different that I’m not even sure if there was a vision. Sometimes it just — they just come out. It just manifests itself, almost.
How many suits have you made?
A couple hundred, probably.
How long do they take?
I can make a suit in less than an hour.
I guess it’s not much material.
No, it’s not. It’s not much material at all! Most of them. So, yeah, they’re for people who aren’t shy, mostly!
That’s a good tagline. So are you part of a community of designers in town? Do you think that there is a community?
I think that there’s an amazing community and I would love to, you know, feel that I can include myself in that, because the girls down at the Redoux Parlour are so awesome and Laura Lee [Laroux] is the one that referred you guys to me and that was so sweet. And Mitra [Chester] at Deluxe and stuff — I’m just so inspired by those girls, and I think what they’re doing is so cool, and they’ve sold my stuff on consignment in the shop. So I’m just super honored and grateful and I just think Eugene is so cool that it can support local handmade stuff. There really is a market for it here.
Are those they only places where your stuff is available?
Currently, but I have an Etsy site, and a Weebly site and then I think Sweet Potato Pie will be carrying stuff too soon. And then I’m hoping to get some stuff in some boutiques, like down in Malibu. … trying to get it, you know, in areas where there’s a longer swinsuit season!
Are you working on anything new or upcoming, or sticking with swimsuits for a while?
I’d like to do more costumes. I’d like to — I’m involved with the aerial circus community a little bit, so I’m doing lots of like workout gear like leotards and yoga gear and stuff like that. Thre’s a bunch of people who wear that stuff every day year round, so, I want to market to them.
Is there anything in particular that you’ve made that you’re the most fond of or proud of?
Um… my daughter! Yeah. I don’t know. I mean, everything I make is like, I feel like I’m still learning so much so each piece is a little bit better than the one before. I’m learning to use my machine more, how to get the materials I want cheaper, or more local or recycled. I feel like it’s a total evolution and it keeps getting better.
So do you use recycled fabrics and such?
I try to. I’m always looking for cool fabric at thrift stores, and cool trims and stuff like that. … I spent a lot of time at the Springfield thrift stores because I feel like they’re less picked over.
So is there anything that we haven’t talked about, about your stuff, that you want to put out there?
I love custom orders!
You seem really enthusiastic about it.
Yeah. It’s been really fun. I feel like I’m playing Barbie.
Shady Lady is available at Deluxe, the Redoux Parlour and hopefully soon, Rupp says, at Sweet Potato Pie.