We at Bluntmoms had the opportunity to talk with Pinup Girl Clothing founder Laura Byrnes on a variety of topics we knew are important to our readers. She is a strong, successful woman who launched her popular and beautiful clothing line in 1997 and she had a lot of great insights to share with us.
How does feeling and looking pretty fit into your strong, empowered, fierce life?
I think it’s an integral part of it. It’s funny because a lot of times, my customers when they start wearing my clothing, they feel different. They start to get attention. The clothing is cut to flatter the figure so before, where maybe they were flying under the radar, now they’re getting attention from the way they’re dressed. In a way, for me, dressing in a way that makes you feel confident and gorgeous and gets attention actually takes some strength. Especially I feel for women that anything we do, people seem to scrutinize a little more than they would if it were a man.
A lot of our moms are lonely and feel like they don’t have a village. You’re someone who has built a community around your clothes, your style, and your brand. What’s your advice for finding your tribe?
It takes strength to be who you really are instead of listening to other people.The only way you can really find your tribe is to wave your flag. To find your tribe, you have to know who you are. Then you’re going to attract people who are just like you. It’s really about having the courage and the bravery to be yourself and also not being afraid to put yourself out there. Sometimes when we lose friends we’ve lost them because it’s time. We’ve grown in a different direction than they might have. But I try to see it as an opportunity.
You are crazy busy building an amazing brand. How do you take care of yourself in the middle of all that?
That’s been something that’s been hard for me to do, to be honest, and I feel as if I’ve just recently learned to do that. I think something that women tend to do is feel responsible for everything. Women feel like, “Oh, I’ll go in and help.” And that was a lesson I had to learn. I would be encouraging my employees to take a mental health day if they needed to, but I never did. Just recently I started doing that. I have learned that part of self care is saying no.
How can we as moms encourage our kids to explores careers in fashion and explore their sense of style?
One way is through encouragement and trying not to be judge-y. The thing that I think crushes artists and people who want to be creative is when people try to critique it. Art is what comes out of your brain, the beauty in art and creativity is there really is no good and bad. Whatever you make might appeal more to one person, but that goes back to finding your tribe.
A lot of our parents and kids are navigating dress code issues. Do you have anything thoughts on that experience?
Yes, I hate it and if I was in school right now, I would be so upset. I hate hearing “Those shorts are not okay, shoulders are not okay.” There’s nothing wrong with the human body whether you’re a man or a woman and the dress codes seem to first of all focus a lot on women and it gives people the impression that there’s something wrong with their bodies. And we are getting away from that culturally, slowly, to some extent but I feel that the root of much of the body image issues women have is women and girls being told that there’s something wrong with exposing skin when there absolutely is not. I think it’s ridiculous, if you’re going to school and it’s a hundred degrees out you should be able to wear a tank top and shorts.
Do you have any advice for women thinking about starting their own business?
I would say “Do it” when people ask for advice and ask, “Is it difficult?” I say, “Yes, anything that’s going to get you something good is going to take some effort and be a little difficult and you definitely have to be dedicated.” I always say, “Set small goals, you want to be happy at any little victory.” There’s a line in a Beastie Boys song that says “What we know always holds us back” and that really applies, so it’s almost better if you’ve never done it before. Understand that it’s always going to be, for the most part, slow going in the beginning. But I would say, “Hell yeah start a business!” and especially in this economic climate I would suggest anyone do anything except work for another company because I don’t think the stability is there anymore.
What is your favourite outfit or dress in your line?
There were certain things that I made specifically because I wanted something that I didn’t feel existed in the market and those are the things that I wear over and over. The Love Your Body jeans line, the capri, the fitted and the boyfriend, I wear them nearly every day. I love these jeans and they fit amazing and that’s why I did them because I could not find jeans that fit really well. Dress wise, I love all the high glamour stuff, I think the Gia gown which is an insane showstopper is my favourite. It’s hard to have a favourite. I wear the Gia, the Monica, a dress called the Angelique that I haven’t done in a while, I think it’s going to come back because it’s just a perfect little black dress with little flow-y sleeves. Of course there’s the Jenny but that’s like my summer dress if I’m going on vacation somewhere.
Lots of our moms struggle with body image, like their body after babies. It can be difficult to feel confident. What’s your advice on loving your body?
Love your body. And I know that sounds a little simplistic but what I say to women is what I said to myself, “Laura, cut it out. No one cares as much as you do.”
People will say, “That Laura Byrnes, she’s gorgeous” and it’s hilarious because up until my thirtieth birthday I thought I was hideous. I did not think I was good looking at all and before my thirtieth birthday, no-one ever said, “”That Laura Byrnes, she’s hot, she’s really good looking.” Nobody. But I remember just after my thirtieth birthday I was looking in the mirror one day and I really took a good look at myself and I thought, “You’re actually not ugly. You’re kind of hot.” And I remember making a conscious decision, “From this moment forward, I’m fucking hot.” And I meant it.
There I was 20 years ago, thirty years old, thinking that was old, and I’m going, “What am I going to die thinking I’m ugly? Fuck it, I’m hot. Even if I’m the only person who thinks I’m hot, I’m fucking hot.” And, my hand to God, I think I got hotter as a result of that. Because I just started acting like I was hot. I started believing I was hot. My demeanour changed, the way I started talking to people, and it really worked because I was like, “Why am I going to hate myself? I’ll leave hating me to my enemies. I’m not going to hate me.”
The magic of it is, how do you love your body? Just love your body. It’s magic but it works. You just have to start doing it and say, “I don’t fucking care. What’s worse case scenario? The entire world judges me? Fuck them.” Be strong and stop worrying about it. Life is too short.
How do you feel about turning 50?
I feel fantastic about it. When I was a child, I was interested in old people. I thought old people were great, but I didn’t know that they started out as kids. When my mom explained to me that you start out as a baby, then a toddler, then a kid, then a teenager, then a grownup, and my brain was like, “Wow! You get to be all these things. Hopefully if you live long enough you get to be a grandma. You get to be an old lady. I think that’s a blessing. So I almost feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life to be this age. And I guess I kind of have and I love it!
You can enter to win an Pinup Girl Clothing Gift certificate of your own and Laura has offered our readers a special discount code to save on their purchases so you can find something that makes you look and feel great.